Peer support available for veterans fighting addiction, mental h - Tucson News Now

Peer support available for veterans fighting addiction, mental health issues

Veterans who fought addiction and have recovered from mental health issues tell their stories at the Tucson VA. (Source: KOLD News 13) Veterans who fought addiction and have recovered from mental health issues tell their stories at the Tucson VA. (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The dark reality of veterans fighting addiction, mental health issues, and suicide was brought to light Thursday, March 9, at the Tucson VA.

DeWayne Raulerson retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1988. He was an alcoholic for years, but sobered up six years ago.

The 72-year-old hit rock bottom when he woke up next to a dumpster behind a local bar he drank at regularly for 30 years.

“I remember the last stages of addiction. I was angry. I was not polite, I was rude, I was not a nice person,” Raulerson said.

He stressed his problems weren’t connected to his military service. Instead, abuse from childhood. He reached out to the Tucson VA for help and has since recovered from alcohol abuse.

“This place saved my life,” he said.

Now that he’s recovered, he’s giving back.

The Tucson VA hired him to be one of seven peer-support specialists, veterans who have beaten their own addiction and mental health battles and are now giving back to help others do the same.

Part of his job is to relate and listen to their stories and find resources to help them through their struggles.

“The definition of courage is doing the next right thing even though you’re afraid. That’s how you get here. If you got a problem, ask for help,” he said.

Raulerson helped deliver that message at today’s VA’s “Life Worth Living” recovery fair.

If you’re a veteran wanting to learn more about the Tucson VA’s addiction and mental health services, call Bonner Raskob at 520-792-1450.

If you know of a veteran in crisis, call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

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Copyright 2017 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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