The State Board of Veterans Affairs (SBVA) unanimously passed a resolution for the Oversight Commission on Alabama Opioid Settlement Fund to designate 25% of the total opioid settlement to be allocated to the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) for investment and use by ADVA to work on behalf of Alabama’s service members, Veterans, and their families affected by the opioid crisis.
The resolution was passed unanimously during the SBVA board meeting on October 12, 2023, and presented to the opioid Oversight Commission during the November 16, 2023, meeting at the Alabama Statehouse.
According to the resolution, Alabama is home to approximately 400,000 military Veterans and their families, making them approximately 23% of Alabama’s population. Veterans comprise nine percent of Alabama’s population but account for 20% of Alabama suicides. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for post-9/11 Veterans, accounting for 22.3% of all deaths. This is a complex issue, with drug addiction being a substantial factor. Alabama, the highest opioid prescription per-capita state since 2012, has gathered partners, stakeholders, academia, and community organizations to collect data and study the opioid crisis.
“The risks of overdose and suicide that Veterans face need to be understood,” said Scott Gedling, Vice-Chairman, State Board of Veterans Affairs. “Further, addressing drug overdoses in the Veteran population requires a more holistic approach to addressing Veteran mental health challenges. We must further address a myriad of factors that affect Veterans’ and their families’ well-being. The mass prescription of opioids significantly contributed to the problem without addressing the other issues that affect Veterans. To truthfully say that Alabama is the best state in the country for Veteran care and provision, we must take action to protect those who have protected us.”
The SBVA requested the Oversight Commission to designate 25% of the total opioid settlement (approximately $270 million) to be allocated to the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) for an approximate $67.5 million investment for Alabama’s service members, Veterans, and their families affected by the opioid crisis.