HOUSTON - Experts say mental health issues and the consequences addiction and suicide appear to be on the rise in the coronavirus pandemic, but now there is a new treatment center in Houston to help some of the most vulnerable veterans and it’s free to them.
On Thursday, leaders from the Birdwell Foundation for veterans toured Heights Hospital as part of a new partnership.
The entire second floor has been newly allocated to making sure veterans get the cutting edge holistic and traditional help they need to overcome addiction and prevent suicide.
“My object is to bring all the veterans into the second floor, into their own community,” said Stephen Myers, CEO of Heights Hospital.
The acute medical detox and PTSD program mixes holistic and traditional treatments to help clients overcome alcohol and drug addiction.
The hospital’s CEO says one recent client was a suicidal Iraq war veteran who showed up pacing outside the hospital until Myers went out and brought him in.
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“He said, ‘I’ve lost my wife, my two kids, I drink a bottle of liquor a day,’” recalls Myers. “’Today’s the last day on my planet.’ I said, ‘Let’s go upstairs. I think I have people who can help you.’ We brought him into the detox program…and he was suffering at great depths. He went through acute medical detox. After five days he had a new outlook on life.”
The program includes modalities like IV therapy, sound therapy, a chapel in the hospital, and an infrared sauna in addition to the traditional twelve-step program.
In its new partnership with the Birdwell Foundation for veterans, the national foundation will refer veterans in need to the Houston facility.
“We’re excited to be able to partner with somebody with such a great facility that’s doing it all so right,” said Gene Birdwell, founder of the Birdwell Foundation. “Most hospitals don’t have a clue, and unfortunately the VA does not handle it properly.”
The program is headed up by Lindsey Lohan’s dad Michael Lohan, who says he’s adding big reforms to traditional detox and PTSD programs.
“It can take weeks or months to detox somebody before they’re ready to get treatment—they’re cognizant enough or in the right state of mind to get the treatment that they need—especially to address trauma or PTSD,” said Lohan. “And the reason why we’re so invested in the PTSD that the Birdwell Foundation is so focused on is because PTSD and addiction are co-related.”
Navy veteran and Recording artist B. Taylor is also backing the new facility and joined the tour of the hospital.
“The VA system is broken, so making a program like here in Houston of what they’ve put together, it’s gonna work, and we need more of it,” said Taylor.
Lohan says they are working on getting the program approved for veteran insurance coverage. In the meantime they’re offering it for free to veterans who need it.