19% of veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have been treated for drug or alcohol addiction. To offer a bit of contrast, just 9.3% of individuals in the general population were in need of some sort of addiction treatment in 2009. These points allude to a disconcerting reality inherent in the United States social landscape: our veterans are coming back home in need of some serious help, and most often, they’re just not getting it.

Currently, “Around 30% of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression, mental illness or another cognitive disability,” and most troubling is that only about half of these veterans receive any treatment for the PTSD that so pervades their day-to-day lives. Said PTSD is a huge driver in a veteran’s resulting drug and alcohol addiction as a means of coping with the baser truths seen upon facing combat.

You’re a Veteran’s First Line of Defense against Addiction

While there are calls for further funding of programs geared toward veterans, citing that “Every dollar invested in evidence-based care for veterans with untreated mental health disorders results in $2.50 in savings over the following two years,” the fact remains that public aid of veterans suffering from mental-health disorders and addiction are lacking. This makes support at home and among friends toward identifying addiction and its underlying problems all the more important.

Each of us is a veteran’s first line of defense.

If you suspect that a loved one who served us overseas may be suffering from PTSD and the substance abuse to which it sometimes leads, don’t be afraid to make your voice heard and to push for addiction treatment. It is imperative that we all take the necessary steps toward combating PTSD and drug and alcohol addiction among veterans, to do our part on behalf of the individuals who so bravely did theirs.