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VA Sunshine Healthcare Network


U.S. Army Veteran Pays Forward

Photo of U.S. Army Veteran Jeff Decresie

Pictured is U.S. Army Veteran Jeff Decresie

By Medina Ayala-Lo, Public Affairs Specialist, Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
Sunday, July 9, 2023

The year was 1997 and Jeffrey Decresie had recently separated from active duty in the U.S. Army. The experiences he lived through during his time in war, combined with an unshakable feeling that he’d left his brothers behind, became the cradle of an alcohol dependency that would take nearly 25 years to shake. At times, Decresie felt solitary in his dark place but when he chose to turn to the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (BPVAHCS) for aid, his world illuminated.

“When I entered the Substance Abuse Treatment Program (SATP), I was of the mindset that I was there to get help,” Decresie shared. “Anytime I needed something, if it would help me during my journey, the staff would go out of their way to get it. I’m sure they could make more money in the private sector but still, they choose to be here.”

SATP is one of the many resources BPVAHCS offers to Veterans who are on a journey toward recovery. It is a voluntary, 28-day inpatient program that is offered to health care-eligible Veterans who are living with substance use disorder. During a Veteran’s involvement with the program, they are offered evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Motivational Enhancement Therapy.

“The approach we take with each Veteran is recovery-based and Veteran-centered,” said Todd M. Holliday, LCSW, CAP, program manager for SATP. “We provide both group and individualized care so that we can really understand how to help each Veteran reach their goals in recovery.”

Veterans who are struggling with substance use can contact their primary care provider, or present to building 111, which is located on the Bay Pines VA’s main campus. Additionally, Veterans, or their family members, can reach SATP by calling 727-398-6661, ext. 15898. If a Veteran who is receiving treatment for substance use experiences a relapse, there is no limit to the number of times they can reach out to Bay Pines VA for help.

“We don’t see addiction as being any different from other health issues. It’s a very difficult illness to recover from and it takes a lot of ongoing effort,” Holliday continued. “Once the inpatient program ends, Veterans sit down with staff to determine which type of outpatient treatment would be best for them.”

Once Decresie completed SATP, he chose to continue his recovery in Bay Pines VA’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). He faithfully attends three times a week, for three hours at a time. IOP is certainly a commitment, but Decresie is grateful for the services he’s receiving from Bay Pines VA and plans to continue his journey of self-discovery by paying it forward. His goal is to use the tools he acquired to impart on others his newfound insight; to truly solve an issue, one must return to its genesis.

Read the article in its entired on the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Website.


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