Substance Abuse In The Military


Working with Veterans is important

In the 10 years since Frank L. Greenagel Jr. was discharged from armythe Army he has taught English at the largest high school in America, started his own counseling center for drug abuse, chaired a task force to curb youth heroin and opiate use in New Jersey and run a recovery house at Rutgers University.
On the side, he worked toward a master’s degree in public policy and kept a brisk schedule of speaking engagements and meetings for the half-dozen associations on which he serves.

So donning Army fatigues again was one of the last things Greenagel thought he’d ever do, especially considering he is 38 — an “old man” by military standards — and describes himself as a reluctant soldier, not exactly gung-ho about military culture, taking orders or shining his boots.

But Greenagel says he is concerned about substance abuse in the military, particularly prescription drugs, and wants to guide soldiers through recovery and help shape military policy to address what he views as a “massive problem.”

Oct 24th, Greenagel reprots for duty with the PA National Guard, where he will serve as a behavioral health officer counseling soldiers with substance abuse problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Greenagel, who lives in Piscataway, was strongly influences to rejoin the military by one of his former student at Rutgers who served in the Middle East with the Marines, was wounded and prescribed painkillers. The student became addicted, was discharged under other than honorable conditions and fell deeper into addiction by using heroin. After getting clean, the student sought help from Greenagel, who placed him in the Rutgers Recovery House he managed.

The rate of narcotic prescription use among U.S. troops coming out of combat is more than three times the rate for civilians and more than 44% of service members complain of chronic pain lasting longer than three months.


February 28, 2015

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