Many service veterans face daunting challenges in transition to civilian life


Former US Army Major Brett Simpson says many service veterans face mental health challenges making the transition to civilian life.

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. (WDVM) — We celebrate the return of service veterans from their deployments. But this Veterans Day we also take stock of they challenges they face in starting a new phase of their lives.

For many after a tour of duty in the miltary, there is a dangerous road ahead. It is a pretty much a proud moment, completing a tour of duty. But that tight social infrastructure from service days is gone. New experiences await, often causing deep anxiety triggered by PTSD. Returning soldiers may turn to alcohol, drugs to cope. It explains the high suicide rate among returning vets.

“It is a very difficult transition,” says former Army Major Brett Simpson. “And a lot of time soldiers suffering with post traumatic stress, an injury or something along those lines, fall into seclusion.”

In the eastern panhandle the Mountaineer Recovery Center, which specializes in mental health and substance abuse treatment, has expertise to help these struggling veterans. Dr. Jonathan Hartiens compares the disipline of military service to that of fighting an addiction.

“Recovery doesn’t have an endpoint,” says Hartiens, “and neither does the defense of our county.”

And that is why Dr. Hartiens and Major Simpson are reaching out to let returning veterans know there are support groups and professional help.

“The more we can get them to recovery centers,” says Major Simpson, “the more we can spread the message that ‘hey, you’re not alone,’ there are others out there and there are ways to overcome these problems.”

The Mountaineer Recovery Center serves Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties.

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