BY DAVE SIMMONS, CHAIR
The Veterans Against Drugs Committee does not have any Resolutions; however, we would like to share a success story about the message and core values that VAD provides to young people in our communities.
Sometimes it is hard to know if our Anti-Drug and Anti-Violence Programs are having a lasting impact on the young people we work with and the communities where we present our programs. Recently I heard from a young woman who was a part of the first VAD program in impoverished southern West Virginia. The drug trade thrives in the coal fields.
Her father was incarcerated, her disabled mother tried to hold the family together, and her older stepbrother was sexually abusing her. Marijuana became her crutch, and her problems seemed to drift away.
Following her father’s release from prison, the family moved to another state. She received no emotional support and her stepbrother remained in the household. Marijuana was not helping, so she turned to heroin, which was easily available. When she told her parents about her step-brother, they didn’t believe her, and she ran away. Living on the streets, she drifted into a life of drugs and violence.
She lived with older men who fed her drug habit. They stole to get anything they could sell to buy drugs. Two boyfriends were caught and put in jail, and she knew it was only a matter of time before she would get arrested.
Meantime, her parents moved back to Huntington, W.Va.. She called them and they told her to come home. Of all the places in West Virginia, Huntington has the most drug activity. She returned home and started rehab. After many years on heroin and a few run-ins with the law, it was hard to break the drug habit. But with support from law enforcement and the rehab center, she started on the right path.
She told me she has almost completed the rehabilitation program. We talked about VAD. She wanted me to know that she had been through a lot, but the core values she learned were a part of her determination to get drug free and start her life again.