When an overdose victim is a veteran

Staff Report

When responding to overdoses, sheriff’s deputies are learning how better help victims who are veterans.

The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office recently sent representatives to the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center to talk about how to identify a veteran in crisis and deescalate emergencies.

“This new initiative sets the standard that when there’s been an incident of substance abuse and it’s discovered the user is a veteran, the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office will follow up with that person and their family to connect them with the appropriate resources including the VA and the Lorain County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services,” said LCSO Lt. Randy Koubeck in a May 30 release.

The VA health care system in Northeast Ohio has made significant changes lately, not only in how veteran patients are medically treated but also in how proactive VA police are in educating local law enforcement on mental health issues that affect veterans.

The VA police also put together resource information kits for deputies to provide to other law enforcement agencies that respond to overdose victims.

The kits include gun locks, prescription return packages, information on homeless shelters, the veteran suicide hotline number, medical and mental health referral information, and more.

“A lot of veterans have invisible wounds. They face increased risk of crisis, including suicide and substance abuse related to post-traumatic stress or brain injuries,” siad VA police chief Todd Mitchell. “This law enforcement alliance strives to continue the trend of lowering instances of opioid abuse and addiction among veterans and getting them connected with the right resources.”

Staff Report