The wounds of war last long after the soldiers return.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.


Memorial Day.
Photo courtesy of

Military parades don’t tell the whole story.

Today is Veterans Day in the United States. Various countries will celebrate their military veterans on other days.

On each of those veteran’s day’s, there will be parades and speeches and sometimes a lot of saber-rattling on the part of politicians.

It’s appropriate for people who served in the military to be honored today. Some will march in parades, and some will be honored with flags placed on their graves.

What we shouldn’t do is forget about these veterans the other 364 days of the year.

The physical wounds of war have become more pervasive.

The list of wars America has fought continues to grow. They used to be periods of peace between our wars, and we tried to believe that future generations wouldn’t have to fight. Unfortunately, across my lifespan, the periods of peace have grown shorter. We have reached the point where Americans have been fighting somewhere in the world continuously for the longest time in American history.

Many of the physical wounds of war today’s soldiers endure, traumatic brain injury, for example, are much more common today than they were in the past. It’s fashionable to spend money and manpower to win a war. It is a much lower priority to spend money and effort caring for the wounded warriors of America’s many conflicts across the remainder of these veteran’s lifespan.

The invisible wounds of war appear more common now than before.

PTSD and other psychological injuries are more common among today’s veterans than they were in past generations. At least that’s what the statistics tell us. It’s very likely that many cases of PTSD went unrecognized or underrecognized among veterans of World War II and Vietnam. It’s also probable that the more protracted wars, more frequent deployments, and the changing nature of warfare has made PTSD more common than it was before.

Homelessness among veterans remains much higher than it should be.

Politicians are far too willing to appropriate funds for new weapon systems to fight wars then they are to provide adequate resources for treatment and housing of those who have made the sacrifices to fight those wars.

Alcoholism and addiction are an occupational hazard among military veterans.

Medical facilities, particularly the VA, see many patients who are former military and whose medical issues have been caused by or made worse by, untreated alcoholism or drug abuse.

Substance abuse treatment facilities encounter a significant number of former military personnel who has struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction during and after the military service. For some former military personnel, drugs and alcohol have been their way of coping with the traumatic experiences they encounter during their military career.

However you celebrate Veterans Day, I hope during the day of parades, speeches, and ceremonies you don’t lose sight of the long-term personal costs borne by those who served their country, their families and friends, and the rest of our society.

Next week’s post will pick up where we left off in the series of posts about what drug counselors do on the job and the core functions of substance use disorder counselor.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Five David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead is the third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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Drug Counseling Video #8 the drug counseling field.

Drug Counseling #8 An overview of the drug counseling field.

Drug counseling involves a lot more than just talking to clients or giving advice. This video explores some of the skills and knowledge a drug counselor needs to develop to be successful on the job. Topics include: what makes drug counseling effective, working with mandated clients, the differences between drug counseling and mental health counseling, modalities, ASAM patient placement criteria, what happens after treatment, and collateral services.

Drug Counseling Video #7 Records and Ethics.

Drug Counseling Video #7 Record-Keeping and Ethics.

Drug and alcohol counselors need to know about record-keeping and ethical issues. Record-keeping includes documentation, writing monthly reports and preserving copies of intake paperwork, assessments, and treatment plans. Counselors need to know about their specific code of ethics as well as general ethical issues involving scopes of practice and competency and boundaries.

Drug Counseling Video #6 counseling sessions.

Drug Counseling Video #6. Individual and group counseling sessions.

Drug and alcohol counselors need to become skilled in both individual counseling and group counseling. They should be familiar with best practices, multicultural counseling, counseling theories, counseling techniques, and feelings work.

Drug Counseling Video #5. Case Management, Crisis Intervention, and Education.

Drug Counseling Video #5. Case Management, Crisis Intervention, and Education.

Drug counselors need to understand the tasks involved in case management, crisis intervention, and education. This video discusses how to determine the dangers in the situation evaluate client’s resiliency and the process of placing clients on a legal hold or involuntary commitment. Drug and alcohol counselors often need to provide education to the client, their family, and the community.

Drug Counseling Video #4 Treatment Planning.

Drug Counseling Video #4 Treatment Planning.

Treatment planning for drug and alcohol counseling. Planning for treatment of all the parts of the client’s life that have been affected by a drug and alcohol use disorder. Services the drug program will provide, and services to which the client will be referred. The difference between referrals and linkages. Consent to release confidential information. Referrals and consultation.

Drug Counseling Video #3 Clinical Evaluation.

Drug Counseling Video #3 Clinical Evaluation.

Drug Counseling, Clinical Evaluation, Screening, Assessment, and Crisis Intervention. In drug counseling when is assessment done? Types of assessment, how to assess. The two types of collateral and why it may be important. Diagnosis of drug use disorders. Recognizing behavioral addictions.