Drawing Vets In—Without Alcohol

Newer veterans’ groups are addressing alcohol abuse among young soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan by holding alcohol-free meetings. NPR reports that with alcohol abuse becoming a major problem with younger veterans, groups like Dryhootch in Milwaukee are trying to attract these vets with coffee instead of beer.

Dr. David Rudd, scientific director at the National Center for Veterans Studies, Utah University, tells NPR that nearly 20 percent of current vets suffer from anxiety disorder or depression, and many self-medicate with alcohol. This fact, coupled with the waning membership in traditional veteran groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, is driving the new alcohol-free approach.

Dryhootch, founded by Vietnam veteran Bob Curry, offers peer-to-peer counseling programs, which have received some federal grants. Peer mentor Mark Flower tells NPR that his goal is to engage veterans without pressuring them. The group hopes to expand later this year.

2 Responses to Drawing Vets In—Without Alcohol

  1. Bernice Carver | April 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Hopefully there will be some de-caf and tea available also! Maybe an exercise gym too! Caffeine by nature increases anxiety. In our tobacco cessation groups we have people cut their caffeine usage as an aid to nicotine recovery. It also helps with other addictions. We want people to reduce stress–not increase it. Exercise, nutrition and stress reduction are also essential. A good step in the right direction.

  2. Al Benalli | April 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    As a Viet Nam Vet in Recovery, 12 step programs have always been available to us, but clubs or organizations that can assist Vets with a place to call home, a support mechanism, we should do ok. Coffee and donuts are always a good lure. The theraputic value of peer to peer counseling is great. In Albuquerque with the VA we have PSR which is available to any returning veteran with the current wars. Sometimes with all the help they can receive, I think we only reach a minimal amount. With Dr. Rudd from Utah State (Go AGGIES) alcohol will always be a natural way for us to sedate any of our problems. Sometimes we think our meds are not doing the trick. For you vets out there, help is available, but sometimes you have to get into action, and go to where the wellness is. They call me “DOC”.

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