New substance abuse treatment will target Hoosier soldiers outside the VA

INDIANAPOLIS – Touting it as potentially one of the first-of-its kind public and private partnerships in the country, health and military officials unveiled a new program aimed directly at treating drug and alcohol addiction within the Indiana National Guard.

The program called “Mission: Recovery” is a new option for servicemen and women that combines the resources from the Indiana National Guard, Fairbanks Treatment Center and Community Health Network.

The pilot program refers Hoosier servicemen and women with a substance abuse addiction to private treatment at Fairbanks, not affiliated with care offered at the VA, where Fairbanks staff members have recently undergone new intense training on how to work and treat members of the military.

“People are looking and longing for this kind of care outside the military system, outside their chain of command,” Maj. Matt Hall said, director of veteran services for the city of Indianapolis.

Beyond unique treatment within the confines of the general population, Fairbanks announced Tuesday it has decided $120,000 annually to “charity care” which will offer treatment services free of charge to soldiers and airmen who quality and current don’t have insurance.

“Having that specified training, being culturally competent to the military culture is crucial in providing services,” Robin Parsons said, chief clinical officer at Fairbanks.

Officials with Indiana National Guard said it’s difficult to track exactly how many Hoosier soldiers battle substance abuse addictions but underscores the need for new treatment alternatives.

Men and women will be refereed to the program through a variety of means, whether it be a failed drug test or simple request by the solider to seek help.

“It’s a very significant threat to our readiness here in Indiana,” Maj. Scott Edwards said of the overall drug crisis, the director of behavioral health with the Indiana National Guard. “So we’re very motivated to help soldiers recover.”

Program directors said Tuesday several guard members have already used the service as a major campaign kicks off to make all Indiana National Guard members aware of the new option for treatment.

“We’ve already seen a few people come through and it gives us a lot of hope that we’re going to reach people that might now have otherwise have stepped up and said I could use a little bit of help,” Parsons said.

Organizers said they are already discussing expanding the program statewide if results prove successful.

“We’re not out to put you out of the military,” Edwards said. “If you have an issue, you’re part of our family.”

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