Hereford veterans to get specialist support for alcohol and drugs

Veterans across Hereford will get specialist support for alcohol or drug problems thanks to Addaction and The Royal British Legion.

Addaction Hereford, which provides drug and alcohol support in the area, has been awarded a £32,000 grant by The Royal British Legion to fund a project aimed at helping the county’s large number of veterans.

As part of the project, an Addaction outreach worker will work directly with local military services to offer training in alcohol and drugs awareness, and provide one-to-one and group work for those who need support, including families and loved ones.

Hereford service manager Alex Crawford said: “We already have more than 20 clients who are either military or ex-forces and we believe the number of people who would benefit from our service is considerably larger than this. We understand that ex-service personnel often have to deal with both the transition from military to civilian life, and from substance misuse to abstinence or recovery. Having people to support them who are trained to be aware of this, who can speak the same language and work to the same military ethos and core values will increase the likelihood of people sticking at it and overcoming any issues.”

Addaction’s Lee Flowers will lead the project. Lee was an engineer in the RAF and toured Afghanistan. He has also overcome his own alcohol problem, which led him to study addiction counselling and research treatment for veterans.

Lee said: “We’re arguably dealing with a different culture when it comes to the military and that means serving and ex-members of the armed services sometimes not accessing services like ours. The aim of the project is to use the strengths of the military culture to help people overcome any barriers and feel more comfortable getting support and being able to thrive in civilian culture.”

Addaction Hereford is already working with the Herefordshire Veterans & Families Mental Health Network, which includes members from RBL, SSAFA, local veterans’ charities, dedicated veterans’ mental health support and NHS 2gether Trust, and the proposed project will increase these links to benefit more people.