“Service for Veterans by Veterans”
Willingway is honored to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs Community Care Network and PsychArmor as a Veteran-Ready program, providing detox and residential treatment services to our nation’s military community.
Located in Statesboro, Georgia, Willingway’s Tactical Recovery Veterans Program provides trauma-informed care within a service-oriented culture, using evidence-based practices proven effective with Veterans. We are skilled in treating co-occurring mental health diagnoses and provide two Veteran-specific small groups per week for residents. We also offer collaborative discharge planning that includes the VA or military command when appropriate. Our Tactical Recovery Alumni App keeps graduates connected and supported after discharge.
Veterans have a unique bond with each other built on shared experiences. This is why Willingway provides as many opportunities as possible for Veterans to experience treatment together. Our Veterans are housed with each other in a separate Tactical Recovery unit with dedicated staff offices in the building. In addition to engaging in at least one individual therapy session per week, Veterans attend regular inpatient programming with our other residents and enjoy an additional three group sessions per week created exclusively for Veterans.
Because their offices are housed in the Tactical Recovery unit, our Tactical Recovery staff are available to respond to our Veteran clients’ questions, issues, and other needs as they arise. At an average census of about 10-12 vets, our program is small enough for us to give each client the attention they deserve while large enough to generate active discussions and group bonding.
Our Veteran-specific group sessions cover topics relevant to Veterans, including everything from learning coping skills for PTSD to how to file a claim with the VA. Veterans are encouraged to attend an AA meeting in the community at least once during their stay with us so they can understand how beneficial AA meetings will be for them after treatment ends. We also attend special events, such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day services, as a group. Each client receives at least one individual therapy session per week with their primary counselor.
As part of the Willingway program, Veterans have access to:
Our programs include the following treatment options:
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, known as EMDR, is an evidence-based holistic treatment designed to treat trauma. Using the principle of bilateral stimulation, the EMDR therapist will ask clients to focus on an external stimulus (eye movements, musical tones, or tapping of body parts) while remembering the traumatic event. As the session continues, the therapist will ask the client to shift to more positive memories and feelings. By activating both sides of the brain, EMDR helps clients remove or greatly lessen the stress response associated with distressing memories.
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were developed by AA founder Bill Wilson and are described in AA’s The Big Book. Since that time, the 12 Steps have been used in some form or another for a variety of groups dedicated to helping members break addictive patterns, whether to alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, or other addictions. Willingway’s Tactical Recovery program follows “12-step programming,” meaning that we teach our clients about the 12 steps and encourage them to work through the steps with the help of therapists and each other.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Also known as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy based on the principle that our unhelpful thoughts and behaviors cause psychological problems. When we become aware of our negative thinking patterns and see how they influence our behavior, we can shift those patterns toward a more helpful, positive outcome. CBT has been proven effective for a range of issues common among Veterans, including substance use disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, and trauma-based disorders.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our full, non-judgmental attention to everything we do. Of course, this is much easier said than done, as most of our thoughts, most of the time, are either about the past or about the future. Because most of this automatic thinking tends toward the negative (regret or worry), it can exacerbate mental health disorders. Tactical Recovery clients will learn the principles of mindfulness and how to make it a daily practice. Practicing mindfulness generates feelings of calm and relaxation, making it easier to detach from stressful situations and gain perspective and clarity.
Living in Balance
Living in Balance (LIB) is comprised of training sessions and exercises that address addiction treatment and relapse prevention. LIB can be used individually or in group sessions and includes relaxation exercises, role-playing, discussions, and workbook exercises. The material covers topics related to relapse prevention, including self-help resources, stress management, emotional regulation, education and vocational development, life skills, spirituality, and sexuality. LIB draws from cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-Step approaches, and experiential therapy.
Psychoeducation teaches clients about the particular diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of substance use disorder as well as any co-occurring mental health disorders they may be facing. When you understand the disorders you have, you’re better equipped to manage them and more likely to follow your treatment plan. For example, psychoeducation for someone with anxiety and substance use disorder would teach that person what anxiety disorders are, how they manifest, how to cope with them, and how they may trigger or be triggered by substance use. Psychoeducation can also be used with families, teaching them about addiction and mental health and how they can best support their loved ones.
Gorski Relapse Prevention
Developed by Terence T. Gorski, an internationally recognized expert in addiction treatment, the Gorski Relapse Prevention method is designed for those who have relapsed frequently or are afraid of relapse. Composed of developmental exercises, the Gorski method teaches clients to monitor their stress levels, become aware of their relapse warning signs and relapse triggers, and manage thoughts, feelings, and cravings. The Gorski model has a nine-step process: stabilization, assessment, relapse education, identifying warning signs, managing warning signs, recovery planning, inventory training, family involvement, and follow-up.
Chronic relapse is not uncommon, and it does not mean that treatment–or the individual–has failed. Addiction is a chronic brain disease, and 40-60% of people who complete addiction treatment will relapse. In fact, for many people, relapse can be considered part of the healing process. Tactical Recovery welcomes clients who are returning to treatment after multiple relapses. There is always hope. We address chronic relapse through the Gorski Relapse Prevention model as well as the other modalities listed above.
Extended Treatment Services
For many people, the standard inpatient treatment time of 30 days is not enough. If we believe that a Veteran could benefit from a longer time in treatment, we may recommend our gender-specific extended treatment services. Also known as Sober Living Environments (SLE) programs, extended treatment is designed for those who are highly motivated to develop a sober lifestyle and willing to live within the structure and guidelines of the program. This program is ideal for individuals who have a history of chronic relapse, legal or serious family issues, or have had multiple treatments in the past.
With a personal journey of overcoming PTSD and addiction as a Veteran, Brooks brings a unique perspective to his role. Joining our team in November 2022, he saw this opportunity as a chance to utilize his experience and make a difference. Born and raised in Statesboro, Brooks has deep roots in the community and has witnessed firsthand how Willingway has shaped the local recovery scene and extended its reach far beyond. Being part of this tradition is an absolute honor for him, and working with fellow Veterans on their path to recovery is incredibly rewarding.
Beyond his professional life, Brooks cherishes the time spent with his wife and their blended family, which includes kids, step-kids, and grandchildren. Their shared love for the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro has led them to participate in numerous artistic endeavors, from dancing and acting to singing and directing. Being deeply connected to his loved ones and the recovery community is a testament to the progress achieved through recovery. Brooks doesn’t just advocate for the message; he lives it every day.
We are proud to have Brooks Adams as an integral part of our team, bringing his passion, empathy, and personal experience to assist Veterans on their journey to a healthier, happier life. His dedication to his work and commitment to his community make him an invaluable asset at Willingway.
An Interview with Brooks:
This interview was conducted when Willingway won “Best Wingman” at Summit BHC’s annual Top Gun Conference, a gathering of clinical staff who work with Veterans.
Interviewer: Hey, everyone! Today, we’ve got Brooks Adams, the Director of our Tactical Recovery Unit, here to share insights into what makes this unit special at Willingway. Brooks, tell us a bit about yourself and what sets this unit apart.
Brooks: Hey, y’all! Well, I’m in recovery myself, and I’m a veteran of the United States Army with PTSD. So, I understand our patients. When our vets come in, they’re talking to someone who speaks their language, understands their struggles, and knows the challenges of reintegrating into society. We tackle addiction and substance use issues head-on from day one, starting with detox.
Interviewer: That’s powerful, Brooks. Can you give us an idea of the typical length of stay in the Tactical Recovery Unit?
Brooks: Most of our patients stay for 30 to 45 days, depending on where they’re coming from. But we’ve got some who stay longer, up to six or eight months for those with higher needs.
Interviewer: Interesting. Now, what’s unique about Willingway is the transition to extended care after the initial inpatient stay. Could you shed some light on how that benefits veterans?
Brooks: Absolutely. For some, their addiction issues haven’t completely upended their lives, so outpatient care might be enough. But for others with more chronic struggles, we offer extended care and sober living programs. It’s about rebuilding life skills, relationships, and careers. It’s not a quick fix, but it gives them the tools for a sober life.
Interviewer: That’s a crucial aspect of the recovery journey. Now, Brooks, Willingway recently received the Top Gun Award for Best Wingman. What does this award mean, and why do you think Willingway earned it?
Brooks: The Top Gun Conference focuses on clinical staff working directly with veterans. Our award was for the highest client satisfaction service. It’s about our vets speaking highly of the program, sharing their positive experiences, and recognizing the fair and supportive treatment they received. It’s a testament to the dedication of our team.
Interviewer: That’s fantastic, Brooks. We appreciate you sharing your insights and the incredible work being done at the Tactical Recovery Unit. Thanks for being here!
Brooks: Thanks for having me. Always here for our veterans and the recovery journey. Appreciate it.