Many veterans turn to drugs or alcohol to avoid thinking about what they saw and heard during combat. One out of 15 vets struggle with substance abuse. Typically these vets also struggle with either post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental health issues. You’d think they could simply get therapy or rehab, but even that is hard for these servicemen to get.

While there are treatment plans like therapy, group therapy, and medications, the veterans have to be covered by the VA health care system; 55% of veterans say that getting covered by the VA is difficult. It can take up to a month and sometimes even more for vets to even get the option of therapy. Why is it so hard for a struggling veteran to get help?

We need to make it easier. Since you can’t see their injuries, the VA is more likely to give health care to vets with physical injuries than to people struggling with substance use disorder or mental health problems. These vets end up getting put farther back on the wait list.

I think we can start veteran therapy groups in our communities. That way, veterans can talk to other people going through the same things they are. Just a simple therapy group could help veterans going through substance abuse by just knowing they aren’t alone.

I think if we support our servicemen the problem could be reduced. We need to get these veterans the help they earned and need.

Heidi Quist

Grade 8