Veteran on VA rehab: ‘I’m just so thankful that I found this place’

Editor's note: This is one of several stories of local veterans who have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction and gotten help through the Dayton VA. You can read more about all the ways the VA is working prevent and treat addiction in the Miami Valley here: What is the Dayton VA doing to combat the opioid crisis?

DAYTON — In the spring of 2017, when Marine Corps veteran Mason Brubaker thought his drinking getting out of control, he wanted to get help but didn’t know where to turn.

“I’d never been to a therapist,” he said. “I didn’t even know what a social worker was.”

Several friends mentioned the Dayton VA Medical Center and one offered to give him a ride from his home in London, Ohio.

Now sober since June 29, Brubaker said his life has been changed by the inpatient program at the VA.

“So long as you commit yourself, they’ll help you every step of the way,” he said.

Brubaker, 43, served in the Marines from 1993 to 1997, deploying to Cuba, Japan and other places. He always drank socially, he said, but didn’t realize how much his depression had worsened the situation until last year.

“I was isolated, depressed, by myself,” he said.

He continues to live at the VA while he looks for a job and then works to secure housing. He attends both a SMART recovery group and AA meetings on the campus. He’s got job prospects in both Shelby County and in Dayton and said he’s working with his sponsors to prepare for the challenge of maintaining his sobriety outside the VA walls.

“I don’t think recovery is really going to start until I’m on my own,” he said.


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