Breaking News
More () »

Program helps veterans recover from addictions

Nearly three dozen veterans were honored with The Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal for their service Monday in Covington.

NEW ORLEANS — Veterans are twice as likely to become homeless than citizens who have not served in the military.

They are also at a higher risk of developing addiction disorders and other mental health problems.

But there's a treatment that is turning their lives around.

Monday was a day to recognize the thousands who died on 9/11. And in Covington, there were more reasons to recognize American heroes. Nearly three dozen veterans were honored with The Louisiana Veterans Honor Medal for their service. 

Along with a medal, they got a letter from the governor thanking them for sacrificing for a cause greater than themselves. But there was an important reason the ceremony came to Avenues Recovery. Over the past few years, Avenues-Louisiana has treated countless veterans for addiction to alcohol and drugs, becoming the program most used by the regional VA.

“Getting sober means having my family back in my life, getting my son back in my life, having no depression, and having peace,” said Nicole Hoag, who served overseas in the U.S. Army as a supply specialist.

When asked where would he be without the Avenues program, Trey Landry let out a big sigh, and said, “I don't know. I don't know if I'd even be alive without this program to be honest with you.” He served in the U.S. Army as a field artilleryman. 

“I would have lost everything, everything I love in this world.  So, it's giving me the opportunity to live freely once again, and know that it's OK to struggle,” said Michael Watson, who played in the U.S. Marine Corps band.  

A quarter of patients at Avenues are veterans.

“I think because of all the stuff we've been through, and a lot of us have been through combat, and a lot of the things that they have seen in wartime,” said Hoag. 

“Trauma, some of the stuff they saw during war, and once they got back to stateside, and trying to get back to society,” said Henry Green, who served in the U.S. Army 

and in the Air Force Reserves and is now a behavioral health technician at Avenues. 

Some counselors, like Henry Green, are graduates who then stayed to treat others.

“I figured I had lifelong experience, that I help others, and I felt the satisfaction of doing that,” said Green.

The Louisiana Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Joey Strickland, reminded everyone that there's a relief fund of up to $10,000 for each veteran. He also said that after Hurricane Ida, they were able to help veterans keep their homes. They gave away as much as $200,000.

That is a reminder that the country's heroes do not have to struggle alone.

Last year there were 88 veterans in Louisiana who took their own lives.

For more on the Avenues addiction program:   


Click here to report a typo.

 Get breaking news from your neighborhood delivered directly to you by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.

Before You Leave, Check This Out