How Peer Support Helps Veterans in Recovery

Published On: April 26, 2023|Categories: Peer Support|
A mid adult woman shares an informational handout for veterans with an army vet in a wheelchair.

Veterans face unique challenges when they leave service, including increased risk of substance use, loneliness and isolation, suicide and suicide ideation, mental health disorders and more. 

According to the National Institute for Health:

  • Veterans with substance use disorder are 3-4 times more likely to receive a PTSD or depression diagnosis
  • Between 37-50 percent of Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans have been diagnosed with a mental disorder.
  • The suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times greater than for civilians
  • About 30 percent of Army suicides and over 45 percent of suicide attempts since 2003 involved alcohol or drug use.
  • Veterans comprise 20 percent of national suicides

These challenges require veteran-centered solutions and treatment that include several treatment modalities such as clinical intervention and social support. Peer support is a veteran-specific support program that is used in conjunction with traditional therapeutic treatment to provide veterans with connection and support through the understanding of shared experience.   

What is Peer Support?

Peer support is an evidence-based program where veterans support each other as they manage an array of challenges such as substance use, returning to civilian life, mental health disorders, PTSD and more. Programs may be group-based or one-on-one and employ a certified peer specialist who is experienced in the unique challenges that veterans face.

These groups provide connections between veterans in a moderated environment that may not be available in traditional peer support groups as they navigate challenges and disorders that stem directly from their military service. Through open dialogue and a supportive environment, peer support allows veterans to learn from other service members who are also pursuing recovery.

 The Role of a Peer Support Specialist

 A peer support specialist is a veteran who is actively engaged in their recovery and has completed training and certification to help other veterans in recovery. They work as part of a cohesive treatment team with therapists and case managers. 

Their shared background with veterans combined with experience in their own recovery gives peer specialists a unique ability to bond with and encourage vets to engage in their recovery. Peer specialists can assist other veterans in identifying specific life and recovery goals, help with self-management of mental health, find social support and other resources in the community and identify strengths and skillsets. Peer specialists model tools and behavior that help in recovery, and they serve as an inspiration to others who are beginning their recovery journey or may be struggling.

The Benefits of Peer Support

Peer Support:

  • Complements traditional recovery methodologies by providing veteran-specific social support
  • Normalizes symptoms and experiences unique to veterans
  • Facilitates recovery by providing camaraderie that veterans may be missing in their transition back to civilian life.
  • Provides mentorship and positive role modeling through the peer support specialist
  • Provides a collective understanding and validation of the hardships many veterans face when leaving service.
  • Increases likelihood of initial treatment and adherence
  • Provides continued support in recovery after treatment ends  
  • Instills hope

Pyramid Military Therapy & Recovery Programs is proud to offer peer support as part of our extensive recovery program. Our non-judgmental, caring and compassionate staff welcomes veterans with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders with open arms. We’re here to help you find your path toward recovery and a healthier, happier life, and we understand how vital community and social support are to the veterans in our program.

Peer support is part of our continuum of care and is available to veterans during and after completion of their initial treatment, for as long as they need it. At Pyramid Military Therapy, you never have to go through recovery alone.

To learn more about our treatment offerings for veterans, call us at 814-631-5676.

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