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Vin Baker's Bouncing Back, in New Program, Offering Help for Veterans With Substance Use Disorder

April 28, 2021

For every 100 military veterans, 11 to 20 will experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Of those veterans with PTSD, more than 25 percent also struggle with addiction. The numbers are staggering – but help is available. Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network is partnering with Bouncing Back: The Vin Baker Foundation to help veterans with substance use disorder. Bouncing Back: The Vin Baker Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the impact of addiction and promoting sobriety. The foundation was founded in 2018 by U.S. Olympian and four-time NBA All-Star Vin Baker. The Old Saybrook native and University of Hartford graduate, now an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, uses his own experience in recovery to help others. “The pandemic has made a bad situation worse by creating isolation, cutting off access to services, and causing financial difficulties,” said Baker. “When we talked about how we could help, we zeroed in on the veteran population pretty quickly.  Then the team at Hartford HealthCare put their hand up and I was able to launch this program in the communities where I was raised and where the people have given so much to me.” Beginning May 1, Bouncing Back is offering a program directly aimed at helping veterans. The program aims to raise awareness of veterans with substance use disorder and raise money to provide direct services to up to 25 veterans in need. [embed]https://vimeo.com/519689043[/embed] “Veterans are at greater risk for substance use disorder if they’ve been in combat, have had multiple deployments and particularly during reintegration into civilian life,” said Dr. J. Craig Allen, medical director of Rushford, part of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network and vice president of addiction services. Dr. Allen also noted that untreated substance use disorder in the military community is associated with a greater risk for suicide. It is essential to screen and treat veterans for mental health problems and substance use as they typically go hand-in-hand, he said. “Within our Behavioral Health Network, we are sensitive to the issue of helping veterans, and we have expertise in treating veterans,” Dr. Allen said. Some treatment options offered by the Behavioral Health Network include outpatient services, Medicated Assistance Close to Home (MATCH), Recovery Support Specialists and the mobile app TryCycle. Services are available both in-person and virtually. “We ask our active-duty soldiers to protect and defend our country,” said Dr. Allen. “It’s crucial that we take care of them when they are at their most vulnerable. At Rushford we treat veterans' substance use disorders and mental health issues.” To donate to Bouncing Back’s program for veterans, click here.