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New recovery program launched for veterans

Veterans’ COPE Recovery Program

A free pilot program is being offered to veterans struggling with PTSD and SUD.

A free pilot program is being offered to veterans struggling with PTSD and SUD.

A new treatment program, aimed at reducing the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorder (SUD) among veterans, has officially been launched, funded by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and supported by NSW Health.


The Veterans’ COPE Recovery Program, which is set to commence on 3 May, is being offered free of charge to eligible former personnel of the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force.

The one-off pilot program, delivered by mental health and substance use treatment organisation The Buttery, adopts a new approach, which treats both PTSD and SUD concurrently, rather than approaching them as separate conditions.

The program was developed at the Medical University of South Carolina, which has trained therapists at The Buttery working in conjunction with researcher Professor Katherine Mills at the University of Sydney.

“There is a tendency among people with PTSD to self-medicate and Substance Use Disorder can be a consequence of this. This program takes a unique approach and there is evidence showing the value of treating both concurrently,” Buttery CEO Leone Crayden said.

“Working closely with the therapists, participants support each other in a peaceful, healing environment. As well as counselling, everyone is encouraged to take gentle exercise and enjoy nutritious chef cooked meals.


“Group therapy, psycho-education, meditation, yoga, Pilates, massage, swimming in the pool and other activities are available to promote holistic recovery.”

The residential part of the program is set to be held at a retreat in northern NSW, and will be followed by three months of after-care, conducted by phone or video conferencing, when participants return to the community.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must be:

  • currently experiencing PTSD;
  • affected by a substance use disorder;
  • committed to remaining abstinent from substance use while in the program and to have undertaken a detoxification program prior to attending; and
  • a previous member of the Australian Defence Force (Army, Navy, Air Force).

ADF members and their families can contact the Defence All-hours Support Line, a confidential telephone service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1800 628 036. Defence families can also contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

Safe Zone Support (1800 142 072) is also available as a free and anonymous counselling line for current and former ADF personnel and their families. The service is available 24/7 and provides access to specialised counsellors with an understanding of military culture and experience. 

Defence personnel, veterans and their families can also access free and confidential counselling 24/7 through Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling Service (1800 011 046) or online at www.openarms.gov.au.

[Related: Raytheon to support Soldier On’s Platinum Pledge for sixth consecutive year]

New recovery program launched for veterans
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