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St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers' new veterans community residence will welcome its first residents sometime next month. Photo: Chris Knight, Adirondack Daily Enterprise
St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers' new veterans community residence will welcome its first residents sometime next month. Photo: Chris Knight, Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Saranac Lake center will welcome vets fighting addiction, PTSD

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A new community residence for veterans suffering from both addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder is a few weeks away from opening its doors in Saranac Lake.

It's located in a quiet wooded lot near the main campus of St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers.

The center is meant to help veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with veterans of the Vietnam War. St. Joseph's received $3 million in state funding to build the 25-bed, 10,000-square-foot facility.

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Reported by

Chris Knight
Adirondack Correspondent

A new community residence for veterans suffering from both addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder is a few weeks away from opening its doors in Saranac Lake. It's located in a quiet wooded lot near the main campus of St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers.

The center is meant to help veterans of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with veterans of the Vietnam War. St. Joseph's received $3 million in state funding to build the 25-bed, 10,000-square-foot facility.

St. Joseph's CEO Bob Ross said the veterans' residence should be up and running by mid-June. It will have a staff of 12 people, including many with military backgrounds. "That's been not a requirement, but definitely an emphasis," he said. "We want to create a culture and a climate for that facility that's very veteran user friendly and comfortable."

Construction of the veterans' residence began in March of last year. It's one of four addiction centers awarded a combined $25 million to increase the number of beds available statewide for combat veterans suffering from both substance abuse and post-traumatic stress. Ross said the veterans who receive treatment at the facility will be referred to St. Joseph's from a variety of sources, including the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany.

Although the U.S. is winding down its military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ross said the need to provide these kinds of services to veterans isn't going away. "People don't necessarily manifest those problems the first few days, weeks, months and even years that they're out of the military," Ross said. "The struggles come back over time, and they need services. I think it's something that will be protracted for the future. The notion is that we expect there will probably be some small number of people from the Vietnam era who will benefit."

While this facility is open to men only, St. Joseph's has a partnership agreement with Samaritan Village, which runs a 25-bed community residence for women veterans in Ellenville.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Saranac Lake facility will take place later this month. It will be named in honor of Dr. David Merkel, St. Joseph's former medical director, a long-time Saranac Lake physician and a former physician in the U.S. Army Reserves who died in 2012.

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