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A Salute to Military Veterans and CADCA's VetCorps Program

by Arthur T. Dean

The following post was originally published on the White House Blog on November 19, 2012. Arthur T. Dean is the Chairman and CEO of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, and a retired Major General in the U.S. Army.

The annual Veterans Day observance holds special meaning for veterans and military families across the Nation and around the world. It also has deep significance for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA). We work closely with the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force and have a long and special partnership with the National Guard Bureau, which has a counter drug mission. We honor the service of all active-duty military and veterans and salute their dedication and commitment.

Many of our returning veterans struggle with substance abuse and addiction, along with a host of other challenges. We wanted to help, and as we sought ways to make a positive difference in the lives of these people we found an exceptional partner in the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). With funding from CNCS, and in partnership with the National Guard Bureau's Prevention, Treatment and Outreach Program, CADCA launched its own VetCorps program on Veterans Day 2011.

CADCA's VetCorps recruits members, particularly military service personnel and veterans, from the AmeriCorps State and National program and from AmeriCorps VISTA and places them in substance abuse prevention coalitions throughout the country. Our goal is to work through coalitions to bridge gaps and direct veterans and military families to the services and support they desperately need – from substance abuse and mental health services to housing and employment opportunities. Providing these essential services is a prevention strategy that builds resiliency and hope among these individuals and families.

Through CADCA's VetCorps, coalitions are forging new partnerships and leveraging resources. By teaming up with local mental health service agencies, faith-based community organizations, media outlets, government agencies, and non-profit military-serving organizations, coalitions have begun training family members to provide peer support for other military and veterans families. Some coalitions are providing workshops and creating comprehensive local resource guides, and others are establishing post-deployment re-entry support plans offering training and employment information. These are just a few examples of the ways VetCorps is following the AmeriCorps motto of “getting things done.” (CADCA was honored to have our new VetCorps program profiled in ONDCP's 2012 National Drug Control Strategy.)

There are many opportunities for community coalitions to participate in VetCorps, particularly since program members rotate on a two-year volunteer commitment. In fact, grantees in ONDCP's Drug Free Communities Support Program can use grant funds to support this effort and bring a VetCorps member to their hometown.

For more information about VetCorps, contact Tanya Hills, CADCA VetCorps Program Manager, at thills@cadca.org.

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