New Non-profit Combating Veteran Addictions and Suicide
MOBILE, Ala. —
The numbers are staggering – one in four military veterans suffers from mental health issues, and 22 veterans commit suicide every day. With more than 5 million military veterans living in the Gulf Coast region, the second largest concentration in the country, a new group is leading the charge to help local veterans overcome their issues and addictions before it’s too late. Veterans Recovery Resources is an up and coming non-profit, organized by veterans for veterans, who understand the special needs of those who once fought on the frontlines.
When soldiers leave the battlefield, their battles are far from over.
"There's shame, and there's guilt, and there's so many mental illnesses that surround the things that we do and the things that we've seen. So how do you cope with them? Well the easiest thing is to stay drunk or find some drugs, or just medicate it away," explained Lt. Col. John Kilpatrick, executive director of Veterans Recovery Resources.
Kilpatrick knows because having served 30 years with the US Marines and ARMY, he battled his own addictions.
"There needed to be a way to connect veterans in recovery with other veterans in recovery," added Kilpatrick.
So that’s why he has started Veterans Recovery Resources, a local organization to help veterans on the Gulf Coast deal with substance abuse and PTSD. He’s assembled a team of psychologists, attorneys, and business partners. But the vital roles are veteran advisors, there simply for support.
"It’s almost like every emotion at once happening at once, and your brain just doesn't know how to handle it," explained Cpl. Christ Montgomery, who lost both legs and injured an arm in Afghanistan, and is now serving as a veteran advisor.
Montgomery also lost four members of his company to suicide since they returned home in 2011. He spent the holidays visiting a comrade in Montana who was on the verge of also taking his life.
"This guy trusts me. We shared blood on the battlefield together. He actually worked on me after I was blown up, and so there’s a special bond there,” explained Montgomery. "It's a lot easier to accept help from these guys that have been through it."
It’s that vet-to-vet connection they hope will prevent veteran suicides, and give our heroes the life they deserve.
"I'm hoping that if they see me being happy, it'll give them a purpose, and they can find their own purpose," added Montgomery.
Veterans Recovery Resources is currently taking calls and connecting veterans to resources. They have a bank of veterans and doctors willing to speak with someone at all times. They plan to incorporate a web-based system that regularly checks-in on their veterans. And the ultimate goal is to operate a 20-bed residential facility for vets in need of help.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Veterans Recovery Resources.