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Experts Help Troops, Veterans With Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues

Courtier-Journal, by Laura Ungar A team of Kentucky military and health care experts will work on finding better ways to help troops, veterans and their families cope with substance abuse and mental health problems. Gov. Steve Beshear announced the effort on Wednesday, saying the team will work with officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. They’ll travel to Washington, D.C. next week to spend 2-and-a-half days with similar groups from other states, examining strategies that have worked in other places. “When those who have sacrificed so much already need help with substance abuse or mental health issues, we have to be ready with resources to support them as they heal,” Beshear said in a statement. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 335,000 veterans live in Kentucky, which is also home to about 45,000 active-duty military personnel and 8,400 members of the Kentucky Army National Guard and Kentucky Air National Guard. Members of the task force include, among others, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky adjutant general; retired Col. David Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs; and State Rep. John Tilley. “I think Kentucky does a good job when it comes to helping those in the military in these areas,” Tilley said, “but there is always room for improvement.”