Phoenix House in Lake Ronkonkoma helps veterans struggling with substance abuse

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A new program in Lake Ronkonkoma is helping veterans who are struggling with substance abuse and other disorders.

Kevin Trip, a 43-year-old from Long Beach who was in the Marines, says he became addicted to pain pills after shattering his hand while in the service.

Trip says that started a downward spiral that lasted for years. He says he was in and out of rehab facilities and jail during this period.

“It kind of got insane ‘cause it led to other drugs. Like, I was doing heroin, smoking crack. I was a tornado, is what it was. It was scary,” Trip recalled.

Trip says he did initially try and get treatment at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Northport, but never followed through. And the other rehabs just didn't seem right.

After being arrested in Nassau over the summer, he was court mandated to the program run by Phoenix House, specifically designed for veterans.

“Our program is good because here they can get the medical treatment that they need and we can help them mentally and socially support them,” says Phoenix House Military Services Coordinator Danielle Bonaparte-Lozano.

Trip says he is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, he sees a therapist at the VA and goes to substance abuse counseling.

“I'm completely different from the person I came here,” Trip emphasizes. “I’m happy today. I wasn't happy before, but I'm happy today. And I'm glad I'm sober, I can actually think right. I'm the person I should've been years ago, but better late than never, right?”

Phoenix House says the program is the only one like it in Suffolk County specifically geared toward veterans, which they say is surprising considering Suffolk has the largest number of veterans in New York state.

There are currently 10 veterans enrolled in the program at Phoenix House.

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