Substance abuse among veterans continues to be a growing concern in the United States.
A recent study shows drinking and driving among those who have served our country has been increasing in recent years.
The study was done by the American Addictions Center as it analyzes veteran substance abuse. The study says PTSD or other traumatic emotional and physical experiences could lead to substance abuse in veterans. It’s a nationwide issue that has a local impact.
“It’s an everyday struggle,” said Martin Longoria, an officer at Nueces County Veteran Services. “And each veteran is unique in their own way.”
The study also says drunk driving among veterans has gone up nearly 65% since 2014. Longoria says to cope with their feelings, many veterans turn to alcohol.
“It’s easy. It’s accessible,” Longoria said. “It’s one of the easiest ways that a veteran can cope with.”
Retired army veteran Dominic Franco was involved in a serious car accident when he was enlisted. He was seriously injured, left the military and found it hard to transition back into civilian life.
Franco eventually turned to alcohol to cope.
“It was something I saw as social. I didn’t really see it as a problem until I got in my legal trouble,” said Franco.
Franco was eventually arrested two times for DWI’s.
“With the drinking, that’s an outlet for vets to kind of deal with it,” said Franco.
The holidays could also be a time of reflection for many veterans, which could be another trigger for drinking.
Fortunately, Franco’s arrest turned his life around. He’s currently going through veteran court to get his life back on track.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and ways to go about handling whatever issues I do have in a better outlet,” he said.
Franco is now the founder of a local organization called Lifting Vets, an apparel company helping other veterans like himself.
The Corpus Christi Army Depot is offering a hotline number for veterans in need. They can be reached at 361-961-6570.