The National Guard via Flickr

OPINION – While some of you may have recently heard of ‘Flanders Fields’ thanks to their amazing efforts helping rescue Americans and Afghans abandoned by our government (along with other groups such as PLAN B- The ARC) – you may not know that their primary mission is to help our veterans fight drug addiction often brought on by the stresses of war.

After a year of record-breaking veteran drug overdose deaths, the largest seizure of fentanyl in U.S history, the botched Afghanistan retreat, and an unprecedented rise in veteran crisis center calls, the need to help veterans fight addiction has never been greater.

It’s no secret that veterans are disproportionately affected by alcoholism and addiction, but few understand that the well-publicized #22aDay (the average number of veterans lost to suicide each day in America) does not include intentional overdoses or addiction related deaths.

The harsh reality is that any veteran who has ever been prescribed opiates, and any veteran who has struggled with addiction, will rarely choose any other means of ending their own life.  Using a bottle (of alcohol or pills) is no different than pulling the trigger with a firearm.

And the truth is that the ACTUAL number of veteran suicides per day could be DOUBLE what we’re hearing.

Numerous factors conspire to create dramatically under reported numbers: lack of identifying victims as veterans, and not ordering toxicology reports in death investigations, are just two.

When people, including veterans, fall into a life of addiction, they generally become ‘dregs of society,’ stripping them of any status or recognition they once held, this includes being proud American veterans.

Flanders Fields has been a valued partner of American Defense News in highlighting the issue of veteran suicides and removing the stigma surrounding veteran addiction, which is the leading cause of both veteran homelessness and suicide.

Over 70% of both cases involve substance abuse of some kind.

America must do a better job of making it ‘OK’ for veterans to reach out for help and recognizing that many of our service members have to fight their own ‘war after the war.’

Today, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is Giving Tuesday. Every year, on this day people take the time to kick off the Christmas and holiday season by giving back to their community — whether it is by donating money to a charitable cause or volunteering.

And I can’t think of a better cause than this.

Use today (and the rest of this year) to spread the word about organizations such as Flanders Fields who are fighting the good fight to end veteran addiction. And please make a donation, you will be glad you did.

Flanders Fields is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 charity organization.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AmericanActionNews.com


Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 month ago

Unite Nationwide Hoorah Yes