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.