Office of National Drug Control Policy

Strengthening Military Families and Veterans

Strengthening Military Families and Veterans

"I want every service member who's deployed to know that when you're over there taking care of the country that you love, your country is back here taking care of the families that you love. I want every military wife and husband to know that we're going to help you keep your family strong and secure. I want every military kid to know that we're going to be there for you, too, to help you grow and to live your dreams."

—President Obama, January 24th, 2011

On January 24, 2011, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden put forward nearly 50 commitments by Federal agencies responding to the President's directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive Federal approach to supporting military families. These commitments, detailed in the Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America's Commitment report, represent the work of Cabinet Secretaries and other agency heads who have come together find better ways to provide our military families with the support they deserve.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy stands with the President and our fellow agencies in furthering our commitment to the dedicated military families and veterans who serve our Nation. Far too many brave men and women who have risked their lives in service to our country are now suffering from physical, mental health, and substance misuse problems. We have an obligation to care for our military families and veterans and to improve their lives by increasing access to vital treatment services specifically geared toward our military heroes.

ONDCP's Commitment to Support Military Families and Veterans

The Obama Administration has a renewed emphasis on expanding access to drug treatment for active duty military and veterans.

This effort comes at a vital time. According to a recent survey conducted by the Department of Defense, one in eight active duty military personnel are current users of illicit drugs. This is largely driven by prescription drug abuse, reported by one in nine service members—more than double the rate of the civilian population.

  • 1 in 8 active duty military personnel are current users of illicit drugs
  • 60% of the 140,000 veterans in Federal and state prisons struggle with substance abuse
  • $541.7 million dollars in Federal funding has been requested for veterans' treatment programs in fiscal year 2012

Additionally, a survey of incarcerated veterans conducted by the Department of Justice found that an estimated 60% of the 140,000 veterans in Federal and state prisons were struggling with a substance use disorder, while approximately 25% reported being under the influence of drugs at the time of their offense. Many of these issues can be connected to the trauma of combat and other service-related experiences and, for this reason, require appropriate measures to address them.

The Obama Administration has requested significant resources to assist in strengthening military families. The President's FY 2012 Budget request includes nearly $9.0 Billion in Federal funding for early intervention and treatment services – an increase of $99 million over FY2010. This includes $541.7 million – an increase of $33.8 million dollars over FY 2010 enacted – in direct support of veterans' treatment programs that provide effective, safe, efficient, recovery-oriented, and compassionate care for veterans with substance abuse disorders and mental illness.

Spotlighting Veterans Treatment Courts

As Americans, we must keep in mind the enduring debt we owe our country's military veterans. While news accounts remind us daily of the dangers our military men and women confront in combat, the serious challenges facing our veterans when they return home, particularly substance abuse and psychological health problems, often go untreated. Sadly, these challenges can sometimes lead to criminal or other destructive behaviors.

Veterans Treatment Courts seek to treat veterans suffering from a substance use and/or mental health disorder, while helping ensure public safety. These special courts combine rigorous treatment and personal accountability, with the goal of breaking the cycle of drug use and criminal behavior. Veterans Courts promote sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response involving the traditional partners found in drug courts and mental health courts, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare networks, the Veterans Benefits Administration, State Departments of Veterans Affairs, volunteer veteran mentors, and veterans family support organizations.

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