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Addiction Recovery for Veterans Supported by Court Program
Local government officials have established a new program to help veterans with mental health and substance use disorders.
The program, named the Rappahannock Veterans Docket (RVD), was created by Virginia Sen. Bryce Reeves and local government and law enforcement officials. In recent years, county judges and the public defenders office noticed that numerous veterans with no criminal records were entering the court system. They later found that many of them had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health disorders.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, diagnoses of substance use or mental health disorders among veterans who utilized Veteran Health Administration services increased to 41 percent in 2015.
In addition, a scholarly article published in Law and Human Behavior found that PTSD symptoms were related to violent criminal charges for veterans with a history of PTSD and substance use disorders.
Many criteria can contribute to a veteran's PTSD and substance abuse, including combat injuries and self-medication for chronic pain.
Reeves stated that intervention is paramount to helping veterans transition back into civilian life.
The RVD is similarly structured to the region's drug court program. If veterans complete the program, they may have their charges reduced or dismissed.
The Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) will provide treatment and counseling services for program participants.
RVD will also pair participants with other veterans who have been trained to mentor people in addiction recovery. Program officials are seeking additional funding and additional mentor volunteers. They hope to expand to nearby cities in the future.