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Former Marine and Jersey City native helps other vets overcome drug and alcohol abuse

Asking for help isn’t always the easiest thing to do. But that’s what veteran Brian Gillespie, born and raised in Jersey City, had to do more than six years ago when he had to come to terms with his own struggles with substance abuse.

He knew all too well the trauma that veterans confront as part of their work. Now, Gillespie serves as a treatment advocate for RESCU (Recovering Emergency Service Community United), an addiction recovery program exclusively for military service members, both active and retired, at Recovery Centers of America at Raritan Bay.

Due to the nature of the careers of those who serve in the United States Armed Forces, many are at increased risk of experiencing behavioral health issues and struggle with mental illnesses, PTSD, leading to substance use disorders. However, there are few addiction treatment centers in the U.S. that offer specialized services for veterans.

“The stigma that is attached to being a Marine, a veteran, or a police officer is real,” says Gillespie. “The struggle is real because you don’t want to ask for help and look weak. We’re the ones that are always helping people so you don’t want it to be the other way around. For me to ask for help when I needed it, I knew that I was at that point. It takes a lot of strength to reach out for it.”

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