Campaign Urges Service Members To Act on Alcoholism


California service members are being encouraged to reach out and seek help if they feel like they're having trouble with alcohol or substance abuse issues. Real Warriors, the organization behind the campaign, say they want to help reduce the stigma of psychological health concerns and encourage service members, veterans and their families to seek help if they believe they need it. 

With more than 130,000 active service members, over 56,000 members in the reserves and another 60,000 military civilians in California alone, Real Warriors says the stress and psychological effects of military life can often lead to substance abuse issues. 

 Air Force Sergeant Joshua Williamson says he started working with Real Warriors after turning his life around. 

"Things are a lot clearer now, and I actually enjoy speaking to other people and other service members in regard to psychological problems, or mainly alcohol abuse, because it's good to have somebody who can actually relate to it," Sergeant Williamson said. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that nearly half of all  service members report participating in binge-drinking behavior. Air Force Sergeant and Behavioral Health Expert Bradley Blair says substance abuse hinders job performance. 

"Most importantly, it affects mission readiness. So, we want to have a force of service members that are fit to fight. Be it physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally," Sergeant Blair said. 

Real Warriors say they emphasize that reaching out is a sign of strength and that plenty of resources are available to service members who might think they need help. 

"Seeking care is an important first step. It's the biggest step. Because the help's available, it's just you have to be in a clear state of mind to actually  ask for it.  And that stigma of 'it's a career-ender' is completely false. I'm still here and going strong every day," Sergeant Williamson said. 

If you'd like more information on what Real Warriors can do, head to www.realwarriors.net. 

Photo: Getty Images


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