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VetCenter’s substance abuse program hosts Family Day

Dustin Winter’s voice still quivers when he recounts his battle with addiction. After years of darkness, all he wanted was to see the light.

Joining the Navy as a submariner straight out of high school, Winter vanished into the dark depths of the ocean without a word, also leaving his family in the dark. From the confines of a submarine to the dusty landscapes of the Middle East, his military journey was marked by medical disqualifications and traumatic experiences—including chaos he witnessed on a Haitian humanitarian mission.

After transitioning to civilian life, Winter found himself grappling with a torrent of unresolved emotions and eventually turned to alcohol. A stint in the oil industry abroad intensified his self-destructive habits, culminating in his return home without a job and with a shattered spirit. Surrounded by family desperate to reach him, Winter risked becoming a statistic, a reminder of the traumatic journey some Veterans face after service.

A catalyst for reconnection with loved ones

Winter’s recovery journey began at Sam Rayburn Memorial Veterans Center’s In-Patient Substance Abuse Domiciliary in Bonham, Texas. It was the place where he would find his light, via a Family Day event, that allowed him to reconnect with his loved ones.

Presentations explained ways for families to support Veterans

Bonham staffers recognized the urgent need for families to understand the intricacies of substance abuse recovery. Through a series of informative presentations, they illuminated the path for families to effectively support patients like Winter in their most vulnerable moments.

“You can’t do life alone,” said Samantha Graham, social work supervisor at Bonham VA Domiciliary. “Family Day provides a measure of community connection and holistic health care in its truest form within the safe confines of domiciliary walls.”

Support systems are essential for successful recovery. Events like Family Day help patients like Winter peel back layers of pain and misunderstanding necessary to create a space for healing and personal growth.

“Family Day has allowed my mother to understand my struggles and for me to see that pain I caused her because of my drinking,” said Winter, pictured above with his mother. “It has been an amazing and eye-opening day for me on my road to recovery.”

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988 and pressing 1 to be connected to an operator.

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