$3 million center for treating veterans with PTSD and addiction opens in Upstate New York

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St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers, in Saranac Lake, NY has opened its $3 million, 25-bed intensive residential treatment facility for male veterans suffering from addiction and PTSD. The veterans' residence is one of just three such facilities in New York State.

Before coming here, I completed a 28 day program elsewhere, but it just didn’t take. St. Joe’s program had all the components, not just the addiction part, but handling the PTSD, parenting, getting my VA benefits in order, spirituality, all of it. -John C.

After over a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 300,000 veterans have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is often accompanied by depression and substance abuse. To begin to address this national imperative, St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers has constructed the Col. C. David Merkel, MD Veterans Residence for the treatment of addiction and PTSD, one of just three such facilities in New York State.

St. Joseph's established its 10,000-square-foot facility on their deeply forested 26-acre campus in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains with funding from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, (OASAS), and support from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

The $3 million facility has the capacity to treat 25 male veterans who will be in treatment for up to a year. OASAS also provides the larger portion of the facility's $1 million annual operating budget.

"Even those we look to as our symbols of strength, our veterans, are not immune to this disease (addiction)," OASAS Executive Deputy Commissioner Sean Byrne stated in his dedication address. "The Merkel Residence is breaking new ground in treating PTSD and addiction simultaneously while being aware of the triggers and vulnerabilities of military trauma survivors."

St. Joseph's veterans' services include trauma-informed therapeutic approaches, recreation and sober socialization skills, physical health restoration and somatic therapies, reintegration with family and community, educational and vocational assistance training, and family therapy and support. There is also a strong emphasis on assisting in the renewal of the family unit.

The formal dedication of the facility occurred near the time of the program's first graduate. John C. is now pursuing studies in political science at the State University of New York, Oswego and relates, “Before coming here, I completed a 28 day program elsewhere, but it just didn’t take. St. Joe’s program had all the components, not just the addiction part, but handling the PTSD, parenting, getting my VA benefits in order, spirituality, all of it. My life was like a puzzle with the pieces spread all over the floor. This program helped me to put it back together.”

Veterans from all states and with all categories of discharges are considered for acceptance.

The coming together as a cadre, forming a familiar culture, has been demonstrated to be of significant importance to veteran healing. As Bob Ross, St. Joseph's President and CEO notes, "One of the outcomes we are particularly pleased with is, that in addition to meaningful positive behavioral change, the men have joined to support each other as a unit similar to when they were in service to their country."

Ross also shares that, "All St. Joseph's staff, from clinicians, to administrators, to support personnel, have received training in trauma-informed awareness." At its core, a trauma-informed approach can be defined as how an agency thinks about and responds to those who have experienced, or may be at risk for experiencing trauma.

In addition to the veterans supporting each other, businesses in the surrounding communities of Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, and Lake Placid have generously donated new equipment and furnishings, including local vets providing the labor to install air conditioning throughout the facility.

Numerous dignitaries attended the facility's opening, including Congressman Bill Owens, Representative for New York's 21st Congressional District, and State Senator Betty Little (45th Senate District).

In her remarks, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, of New York's 115th Assembly District, noted, "In the last five or six weeks I have received more phone calls from veterans and or their families than I have received in the last few years and I don't know why, but I do know that I was able to say to them, 'Hang on. Help is on the way," referring to St. Joseph's new program.

"The majority of our Residents served during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and the two Gulf Wars," says Veterans Program Director, Zach Randolph, an Army veteran with an 11-year career of both active duty and Reserve components. "But we also have a small number of men who fought in Vietnam, a time when PTSD and related mental health disorders were less recognized."

For over four decades, St. Joseph's has served as a leader in addiction treatment with a highly favorable, supported by outcome studies, rate of sustained sobriety.
Among the agency's keys to success include its emphasis on spirituality as a major component of recovery, and the core belief in the inherent dignity and worth of each individual.

St. Joseph's established the first Family Program in the State, and most recently has invested a significant level of resources to treat young people seeking to recover from heroin and opioid addiction.

The agency was also one of the first health care organizations in New York to create an internal curriculum to help employees explore their potential and to prepare as future leaders for internal succession. St. Joseph's program, the Leadership Academy, runs for 12 months, with an average of ten staff in each class.

St. Joseph's received designation as one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2015.

The Agency is located in Saranac Lake, NY, a village long associated with healing, having been the center for worldwide tuberculosis research and care from 1873 until the end of WWII. In addition, Lake Placid, the site of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, is located within ten miles of St. Joseph's main campus.
For additional information regarding St. Joseph's new veterans' addiction and PTSD treatment program, contact Jim Grant at (518) 891-3950 ext. 248, or visit http://www.stjoestreatment.org.

About St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers
Founded in 1971, St. Joseph's, based in Saranac Lake, NY, is a leader in the addiction treatment field having provided substance abuse treatment for over 12,000 men, women, and their families. St. Joseph's comprehensive continuum of care includes Inpatient, Outpatient, and Aftercare facilities, and the 4,000 members of the Fellowship - St. Joseph's alumni/ae organization. St. Joseph's received designation as one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York in 2009, 2011, 2014, and 2015.

Contact Information
Jim Grant, Communications Director
St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers
jgrant(at)stjoestreatment(dot)org
http://www.stjoestreatment.org
(518) 891-3950 ext. 248

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Jim Grant
St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment & Recovery Centers
+1 (518) 891-3950 Ext: 248
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