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The White House
For Immediate Release

Readout of White House Drug Policy Director and U.S. Representative Yarmuth's Visit to Robley Rex VA Medical Center

Louisville, Kentucky – Today, White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske and Congressmen John Yarmuth (KY-3) spoke with veterans at the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville to learn about their experiences in treatment for substance abuse and barriers to recovery. During the visit, Director Kerlikowske and Congressman Yarmuth toured the facility's residential facility and observed how the Center provides treatment for substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and counseling designed to address other co-existing mental health problems. The Center’s Substance Abuse Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (SARRTP), has provided treatment to more than 560 area men and women who served in the armed forces.

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 compared to the civilian population.

“Nearly 75,000 men and women in Louisville have served our country in the armed forces, and it is a top national priority to ensure each of them has every opportunity to succeed in and out of the military,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “By helping veterans overcome substance abuse, this program is a critical part of that effort and a vital investment in the continued strength of our community and our nation.”

“Too many veterans of our armed forces are suffering from substance abuse problems,” Director Kerlikowske said. “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.”

In January, President Obama announced an unprecedented amount of support for the well-being of our country's military families from agencies across the government. The newly announced Presidential Study Directive: Strengthening Our Military Families, which works to bring together Federal government resources around this effort, includes ONDCP's renewed emphasis on expanding access to drug treatment for active duty military and veterans and addressing drug addiction as a disease. The Administration's FY 2012 Budget request includes nearly $9.0 Billion in Federal funding for early intervention and treatment services. 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.

Shortly after their visit to the Robley Rex VA Medical Center, Director Kerlikowske and Congressman Yarmuth joined more than 60 representatives of area law enforcement to discuss anti-drug trafficking measures in Louisville and throughout Kentucky.

Director Kerlikowske’s visit to the Center is part of a week-long tour through Kentucky and West Virginia, where prescription drug abuse and diversion is highly prevalent. He will discuss the Administration’s response to the public health and safety threats posed by drug abuse, specifically the prescription drug epidemic, and drug-related crime.