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Operation Outreach Opens in Aroostook and Washington Counties 

Vietnam veteran Edward Cislak says it was a dark road to civilian life after coming home from war.”I went to drinking, which I quit, I hadn’t had a beer or anything for a long time, there were memories brought back, flashbacks, whatever you want to call them,” he said.Cislak sought treatment to help with post traumatic stress disorder and numerous disabilities, he says without it he wouldn’t be here.He hopes other veterans will do the same.”I think more people should attend them, veterans, anyone to understand the help is out there.”Cislak shared his story at the launch of Operation Outreach, an innovative veterans healthcare program that will provide substance abuse and mental health treatment services to the more than 11-thousand veterans in Aroostook and Washington counties.Congressman Mike Michaud, the Chairman of the VA Subcommittee on Health, says the progam is a team effort by the Atlantic Mental Health Center and the VA Maine Health Care System.”Anytime that we can work collaboratively with health care providers in rural areas I think it’s very important that we do it because it will help hold down the ultimate cost.”Joe Owens with AMHC says in rural areas like Maine, access is a big issue.He says the addition of Operation Outreach gives veterans treatment that’s closer to home.”When I had issues I had to drive all the way to TOGUS to get help, this means somebody in Calais can go down to Calais to get help, somebody in Machias can go to Machias.”Owens says the program also provides veterans with a support system, which includes veterans who have been in combat.The program hopes having that kind of staff will inspire others to reach out and get help.If you’d like more information on Operation Outreach, you can contact them at 1-800-244-6431.