Veterans seeking substance abuse treatment in Corydon, Indiana may benefit from a new program.
The program is known as the South Central Indiana Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). The Department of Corrections fund VTC through an annual grant. The Washington and Harrison counties’ court systems partnered up with the Hoosier Hills area Prisoners and Community Together Inc. (PACT) location to offer the program. Founded in 1971, PACT works with community organizations to implement efforts to rebuild crime-affected communities and assist local residents as well as people in the criminal justice system.
Plans to implement the program began in 2016. The program began accepting patients this year.
VTC resembles a drug court program but it is exclusive for veterans convicted of non-violent felonies.
Veterans who go through the program may have the chance to have their sentences mitigated. The program is structured in three phases. Participants are in the program for a minimum of one year, although it may up to two years to graduate. While in the VTC program, veterans will be required to take regular drug tests as well as attend meetings with program facilitators.
VTC supervisors will work with veterans on a case-by-case basis in order to determine the causes that led to their convictions and current situations. These reasons may be socio-economic in nature such as homelessness or unemployment; the result of substance abuse or mental health issues caused by post-traumatic stress disorder and other forms of trauma. After taking everything into account, the best course of treatment will be determined.
Behavioral health among veterans has become a growing concern in the U.S. According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, veterans accounted for nearly 15 percent of countrywide deaths by suicide in 2015.
The rate of veterans utilizing Veteran Health Administration (VHA) care being diagnosed with mental health or substance use disorders increased from 33 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2015. Veterans with mental health or substance use disorders who used VHA services had a higher risk of suicide — nearly 38 percent — than those who did not receive VHA care.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 1,518 drug poisoning deaths occurred in Indiana during 2016. Opioids were present in more than half of statewide drug overdose fatalities. Residents between the ages of 25 and 34 were among the most affected demographic. Washington County experienced four drug poisoning deaths and 98 nonfatal emergency department visits for drug overdoses. In comparison, Harrison County — where Corydon is located — reported 15 drug poisoning deaths and 133 nonfatal drug-related emergency department visits.
So far, numerous local veterans have expressed interest in the VTC program.
VTC is currently looking for people interested in serving as mentors for veterans in the program. Mentors will receive training and can provide support for veterans in multiple areas, including finding housing, becoming involved in local community organizations, and securing employment.