Content reviewed by Nicholas G. Glines, Executive Director at New Hope Ranch
For veterans struggling with a mental health or substance use disorder, their experiences are unique because of what they have endured during and after active service. Still, veterans have a reputation of being prideful, strong and almost super-heroic and because of this, many people, including veterans, have allowed stigmas and taboos to shape how they respond to getting help, if ever.
Veterans need help, too. Providing the right treatment requires using the right resources. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started a benefits program designed to provide adequate healthcare resources for a serviceman or woman to address and manage symptoms of a mental health or substance use disorder related to any trauma-induced during their time of service. It has helped rehabilitate and heal these men and women. While these services provide great options, not all veterans are eligible.
Where can a veteran go to get the help they need?
Eligibility for Veteran Health Care Benefits
Upon finding the best treatment, you will want to explore your VA service options to see about your eligibility. In accordance with the VA services eligibility guidelines, “if you served in the active military, naval or air service and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, you may be eligible for health care benefit”. Other contributing factors that could influence whether you qualify include:
- Discharged for a disability caused or made worse during active duty
- Discharge for a hardship or “early separation“
- Served before September 7, 1980
There are also enhanced eligibility options that include:
- Former Prisoner of war (POW)
- Purple Heart recipient
- Medal of Honor recipient
- Recently discharged combat Veteran
Ineligibility for Veteran Health Care Benefits
If none of the above apply to you, you may not qualify for benefits. Any dishonorable discharge or bad conduct is immediate grounds for disqualification.
If you apply for VA benefits and discover that you do not qualify, that does not mean that your mental health and substance use disorders are any less worthy of help than a Veteran that does qualify.
Finding the Right Help for Addiction
Any trauma-related experiences while in active service will not go away. Neglecting your health needs will worsen symptoms and could lead to co-occurring disorders. While there are many options for treatment, without the help from VA benefits programs, finding treatment that will speak to the experiences of servicemen and women might be difficult. If you attend treatment programs not qualified in helping veterans, you might feel like an outsider compared to other peers.
The first step to treatment requires that you don’t settle for any kind of treatment program but a treatment program that will speak to your needs.
Specialized Services for Veterans
Since veterans have unique needs, you will want to find a treatment center with an established veterans treatment program designed to provide long-term care. Another important aspect of finding the best care is to look for treatment centers that can treat co-occurring disorders. Such programs should include a mixture of both conventional and holistic approaches to care, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Discussing your motivation for change
- Teaching coping skills that speak to you
- Educating you on substance use and how it relates to PTSD
- Providing resources for ongoing support
Treating Substance Use
Veterans are more susceptible to opioid addiction because they tend to suffer from chronic pain. Since 2014, veterans’ overall opioid overdose rates have increased from 14% to 21%. It is important to seek treatment that can diagnose, treat and educate veterans about opioid addiction as there is a dire need for overdose prevention among servicemen and women.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Addiction Treatment
Each has its benefits. Deciding which is right for you depends on many factors. The severity of your addiction, familial support, insurance options and personal preferences will all influence your decision. Common treatment options to consider include:
- Outpatient counseling
- Intensive outpatient treatments
- Residential inpatient treatments
- Weekend programs
- 12-step programs in Texas
Peer-Supported Addiction Treatment
A community of peers that share your experiences is a cornerstone in building a support network to help you on the road to recovery. Find a facility that provides the appropriate setting for veterans to learn how to manage their mental health and substance use disorders. In treatment, you may find a community of those who understand what you are going through, further helping your treatment. Being in this environment will help you develop lasting relationships and confidence in knowing that you are not alone. Perhaps the crux of any treatment program is about finding the right community
At New Hope Ranch, we understand the complexities of treating veterans, which is why we offer programs specifically designed to meet your needs. We work with most insurance plans and will help you navigate all financial options to find the best one for you. Our family programs help educate the families of veterans about the unique challenges that their loved ones face. Our beautiful 49-acre ranch will provide you the space and inspiration to get away from daily stressors and get in touch with your emotions. When you complete treatment, it does not end there. We provide resources to transitional living homes and community-based activities and programs so you never feel like you don’t have support. To find out more, call (737) 600-8565.