Veterans Services Focus of DA Early’s Prevention and Support Network Meeting

November 9, 2023

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lindsay Corcoran 508-368-7252 or 774-670-8811

SHREWSBURY – The services available to veterans for substance use disorder and mental health were the focus of the first meeting of the newly formed Prevention and Support Network, formerly known as the Central Mass. Opioid Task Force, organized by Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s office.

The Prevention and Support Network met Tuesday at Independence Hall, Veterans Inc.’s treatment facility specifically for veterans located in Shrewsbury.

“As we come upon Veterans Day, we need to do more than just attend parades and memorials, we need to actively help our veterans,” said Mr. Early. “More than 1 in 10 veterans have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder. These veterans deserve the same kind of compassion and support that they showed us during their service.”

Cory R. Ahonen, Chief Engagement Officer from the Executive Office of Veterans Affairs, spoke at the meeting about the state’s veterans’ health services. Cristen Comptois discussed Clear Path for Veterans’ innovative programming. Program Director of Alyssa’s Place Jackie Blanchard, a veteran who has experienced addiction, also shared her personal story of recovery.

The Opioid Task Force was formed in 2015 by Mr. Early and now includes more than 800 partners across Worcester County. The office recently renamed the task force to the Prevention and Support Network to be more inclusive of the work that is being done to address all the different root causes and impacts of the polysubstance use crisis in our country, including addressing mental health and trauma.

“We know that mental health challenges and trauma lead to substance use and vice versa, that people often use substances to self-medicate to treat a mental health disorder. This creates a vicious cycle of pain and suffering,” Mr. Early said. “With the community we’ve built through the task force, we’d like to now work as a Prevention and Support Network to offer people a way out of this cycle.”

Anyone can join the Prevention and Support Network and attend upcoming biannual meetings by emailing info@worcesterda.org.

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