Substance abuse treatment @ VA - can it be reported back to home unit?

Discussion in 'Warrior Transition Units/MTF's' started by DragonFly757, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. DragonFly757

    DragonFly757 PEB Forum Regular Member

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    A friend of mine is having a problem and I need some help, if you can give it. If a soldier who is still in the military goes to the VA for assistance in recovering from a substance abuse problem, can the VA, in turn, contact the home unit and report the situation to the Army? I need to know, as soon as you get a chance. Google has been most unhelpful in giving me information that wasn't just lawyer-written a$$ covering.

    No offense to lawyers here, of course. :p Thanks!
  2. DragonFly757

    DragonFly757 PEB Forum Regular Member

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  3. Jason Perry

    Jason Perry Site Founder Staff Member

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    Would need more info to know....but, as a baseline, the Privacy Act applies. Question is whether the VA's action violated the PA.

    Another important factor is knowing what the person's concern is (i.e., do they want to sue, do they want the information stricken from their records, or do they want to suppress the information in a disciplinary hearing).
  4. DragonFly757

    DragonFly757 PEB Forum Regular Member

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    Thanks Jason.

    The person concerned is NG and is avoiding treatment because he is afraid his home unit will be notified of his "problem" and thus cause irreparable harm to his career. His PTSD is rearing its ugly head and he is having trouble coping with his transition back from the sand box. I can cover a lot of areas that would help him in addition to getting SA treatment, but don't have "first hand" experience on which programs are best for SA treatment. My experiences with the VA have been less than stellar, so I am leaning toward referring him outside the VA anyway.

    Anyone know of a SA treatment program that is OUTSIDE the DoD that I can refer him to? I know there are tons of them, but wondered if anyone had positive first-hand experience.

    Feel free to PM me if you wish to keep the info private. Thanks in advance!
  5. carnelli53

    carnelli53 Moderator Staff Member

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    Dragonfly,

    I know you are specifically looking for SA programs outside DoD/VA, but just as an aside - is this Soldier receiving treatment for PTSD? It sounds like the implication in your post is that his/her SA issues are secondary to PTSD. In the case he/she is receiving PTSD treatment, I would advise (disclaimer: I am not an expert) that he/she stay in-house of whatever program they are currently under...I'm just thinking in terms of continuity of treatment.

    Obviously if this person is receiving PTSD treatment at the VA, I understand that disclosing a SA problem may not be an option. I think this presents a potential dilemma, at least from a financial perspective. If this Soldier is not on orders for treatment (and has no civilian healthcare) they will be paying out of pocket for any medical expenses. Just thinking out loud here, I'm sure you've already gone through all these scenarios.

    As far as the outside SA programs, I think the best options depend on the specific substance. If this person is having an alcohol problem, AA and similar tenant programs could be helpful...but I am not sure how much this person could relate their PTSD/combat issues with other civilians who are suffering from alcoholism. In lieu of one of the forum members/moderators offering their thoughts, I would consider contacting the DAV to see if they have any thoughts/programs available.

    I hope this Soldier gets the help he/she deserves and everything works out. Good luck.
  6. DragonFly757

    DragonFly757 PEB Forum Regular Member

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    The soldier is realizing that PTSD is the primary issue, and SA is secondary to that. He's finally broken down to ask for assistance, but has no trust in the system. I honestly don't know how to overcome that obstacle other than to recommend treatment outside the MTF's or VA. Without any level of trust, I don't expect his treatment to be as successful as it needs to be. I know with my own husband...if the SM doesn't trust the clinician, nothing gets accomplished.

    Thanks again everyone for your help. I hope to nail down someone from the VA to pose this question about how a SM can trust the system that treats them. I actually chased Sec. Shinseki through a back kitchen at his last speaking engagement trying to gain some face time to ask...but realized that it looked a little odd having someone chase him through back exits. LOL!

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