GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A new partnership in Greenville is serving those who served our country.
On Tuesday, leaders from The Phoenix Center, an Upstate facility that helps those struggling with substance use, and Upstate Warrior Solution signed an agreement to work together.
“Substance use is such a huge issue right now and especially with veterans,” said Zach Goff, a justice involved warrior advocate for Upstate Warrior Solution.
Leaders said more than one in ten veterans struggle with substance use disorder.
“Resources are huge, especially with veterans. Not every veteran has access to the VA, depending on their type of discharge,” said Goff.
Leaders from the two groups said they’re going to be able to connect veterans struggling with substance use disorder with support and treatment. It’s an issue Goff said he sees often.
“I work with justice-involved veterans and I’d say about 80-percent of those veterans are dealing with substance use issues, so having the resources to get them the help to hopefully not re-offend, for my job specifically, it’s extremely important,” said Goff.
Some said there’s a stigma around the issue, which can make it difficult to find help.
“With substance use specifically, a lot of veterans are coming out of service with the issue and it’s something that they had to hide for a long time and they’re trying to function,” said Kelly Burgess, the Veterans Counselor for the Phoenix Center.
Leaders said a key part of this agreement is adding a counselor, Kelly Burgess, to screen and assess veterans. Burgess said it’s going to allow the two groups to work hand in hand.
“A lot of times, veterans come to Upstate Warrior Solution and they come for housing or they come because they need a job, but then you start talking to the veteran and you realize that they’ve lost several jobs, or they’re having trouble staying in a house because of their substance use issues,” said Burgess.
Burgess is a veteran herself and encourages people who are struggling to reach out for help.
“I am humbled and honored to be able to serve my fellow veterans. I’ve known and had a lot of friends who have struggled and who have lost to their struggle,” said Burgess.