New Report States U.S. Military Substance Abuse a Public Health - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Report States U.S. Military Substance Abuse a Public Health Crisis

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DOVER, Del.- A public health crisis is happening on the nation's military bases.

According to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine, prescription medications given out to veterans have skyrocketed since the Afghanistan War.

It is something Vietnam veteran Howard Bryant knows all too well.

He says he got hooked on drugs and alcohol after he came back from war.

"I lost my wife. I came home she got a divorce. She couldn't cope with my stress that I was putting on her. Now I understand why she couldn't, because I was a different person," said Bryant.

Bryant said he is now working as a mentor with the Delaware Veterans Court to help others beat their addiction.

"I try to advise the younger Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans to seek help for their condition because they are at risk of a lot of substance abuse," said Bryant.

Researchers say that according to data from the Pentagon, one in four troops who served in the Afghanistan War last year admitted to having a drinking problem.

The report also suggests that officials should reduce the number of places where liquor is sold on military bases, and limit the hours of operation. 

Researchers also suggest that military doctors need better training to recognize the problem in troops, and encouraging more  troops to enter substance abuse programs.

"When you come home from a war you don't know how messed up you are. You just walk around until you listen to other veterans tell you that you need help," said Bryant.

Bryant says there are more programs available for troops today, but many do not take advantage of them.

He said when he got the help he needed, his life changed for the better.

"It's the best thing that ever happened to me. My whole life changed. I've been sober for about 12 years," said Bryant.

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