- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A new program in Indiana aims to help National Guard soldiers struggling with substance abuse.

Fairbanks Hospital, Community Health Network and the Indiana National Guard announced the “Mission: Recovery” initiative Tuesday, the Indianapolis Star reported . It aims to help guard members without veterans insurance benefits find the care they need in a place that understands their military background.

Staff members at Fairbanks Hospital have received training in military culture in order to help understand service members. Training included learning basic military vocabulary and learning about military life.

“The real difference is just a true understanding of their unique challenges, barriers to recovery and being culturally competent,” said Robin Parsons, Fairbanks’ chief clinical officer.

The program is designed to focus on the unique needs of service members, said Major Scott Edwards, behavioral health officer for the Indiana National Guard.

“We need places where we can send our people and know they will get the care they need,” he said.

Fairbanks will provide $120,000 a year in care to guard members without insurance. Those funds could help about four service members a month, Parsons said.

About 10 percent of the approximately 13,500 members of the state National Guard are randomly selected for drug testing every month. About 300 to 500 tests usually come back positive for drugs, said Major Derek Sutton. Marijuana and opiates are the most common drugs found during the screenings.

Soldiers who test positive may be discharged, though the National Guard gives soldiers the chance to recover.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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