USA lessons for those working with addicted war veterans

Published: 25 Sep 2015

USA lessons for those working with addicted war veterans

Jacquie Johnston-Lynch, Head of Service at Tom Harrison House in Liverpool, the UK’s only addiction treatment centre for military veterans, has just returned from the USA after completing a Churchill Fellowship.

The USA is currently the only country worldwide to have specific centres providing addiction treatment for military veterans and emergency service personnel. Jacquie visited Samaritans Village in New York and the Errera Centre in Connecticut to research the potential for similar exclusive treatment settings in the UK.

 “I learned so much about how the USA model works and intend to present it to Mark Lancaster, the Minister for Veterans Welfare,” said Jacquie. “It is essential that this government take seriously the needs of addicted ex-service personnel and their families.”

Roy Kearse, Vice President of Recovery Services and Community Partnership at Samaritans Village commented, “It was a pleasure to have Jacquie alongside us. We are so happy to support the growth and educational needs of Tom Harrison House and to support Jacquie’s desire to make veteran-specific addiction treatment a clear and evidence-based model in the UK.”

Jacquie now has plans to twin Samaritans Village Veterans Programme with Tom Harrison House, and create a transatlantic learning and cultural exchange project. She says, “Whilst I was there we ran some Skype sessions online with the guys in New York and Liverpool. They were a great success and we want to continue to do this on a monthly basis to maintain our connections.”

Paul, a graduate of Tom Harrison House, commented, “It was great that the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust funded Jacquie to go, because it will ripple out a whole load of new opportunities for us. I was in the Irish Guards and felt that after two tours of duty in Northern Ireland I wouldn’t ever get back to reality, then, after nearly 12 years on the streets drinking and using, I’m now 13 months clean and sober and ready to take on employment in this field. With the information gleaned in America Jacquie will be able to make that possible for me and other veterans like me”.