Impact of Veterans on Shelters & Substance Abuse Facilities


Impact of Veterans on Shelters & Substance Abuse Facilities

Community centers and substance abuse facilities offering residential and outgoing treatment programs for addiction (drug abuse, alcoholism, etc.) and behavioral issues (bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, for example) as well as shelters are experiencing a shift in the scope of the services they provide. Several key issues are driving the shift that’s taking place including, but not limited to, the return of war veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan with specialized needs.

Stresses of military service, combat, and reintegration upon returning home are all contributors to increased risk for substance abuse and other behavioral health problems. The most abused drug is alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 27% of Army soldiers were found to meet criteria for referral to treatment when screened within 3-4 months after returning home from service in Iraq. These soldiers were found to be at high risk for such harmful behaviors as drinking while driving and use of illicit drugs. Another problem, according to a study by the Department of Defense, is overmedication of soldiers recovering from combat injuries. Overmedication can take the form of multiple medications that result in excessive dosages. The meds may be taken for different or the same condition.

What’s more, nearly one in five service members returning from deployment are thought to have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depression, according to a study by the RAND Corporation. A similar number are thought to have sustained traumatic brain injury.  Additionally, according to USA Today, a study conducted in 2009 revealed that 136,334 veterans spent at least one night in a homeless shelter — a count that did not include homeless veterans living on the streets. The urgency of the problem is growing as more people return from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These statistics reflect a growing problem that has strained the VA system, as more of our vets come home. Additionally, you have an increased number of young veterans seeking care from the system than had been anticipated. As a result, the VA is looking to nonprofits at the community level to help provide and augment the specialized services our men and women will need. Funding is being made available to these organizations to provide the dollars required to implement effective programs and hire specialized clinicians needed to carry out treatment.

Community mental health centers are faced with a host of new challenges in treating the veteran population. While addiction is prevalent, PSTD, traumatic brain injury, homelessness, and an increased level of suicide among this population will require qualified clinicians and staff that specialize in the unique issues that veterans face. Coverage and loss control will be needed that are tailored to those centers providing these new services.

Caitlin-Morgan understands the challenges your clients face every day in the administration of a shelters, substance abuse facilities or other public help facilities. We provide a portfolio of insurance solutions for community centers, shelters and substance abuse facilities. Give us a call at: 877.226.1027