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Blog Home > CEO Joe Jones Meets With Local Veterans to Discuss Reversing Negative Cycles
CEO Joe Jones Meets With Local Veterans to Discuss Reversing Negative Cycles
[Excerpt from U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs]

For Veterans Kevin Fletcher, Kevin Johnson, and James Goodwin, the Father's Group at the VA Maryland Health Care System has become one of the highpoints of their treatment for substance use. The group, which is part of an intensive outreach program, offers Veteran fathers a more holistic perspective to recovery, helping them to improve relationships with their children and families as they struggle to overcome the demons of addiction. The Veterans in the Father's Group hosted the "Father's Day 2011" program on June 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Baltimore VA Medical Center and invited a national fatherhood expert to deliver the keynote address.

Joseph T. Jones, CEO of the Center for Urban Families and a panel member of Fatherhood and Healthy Families Taskforce of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, delivered the keynote address. About a dozen Veteran fathers also presented their perspectives on the need to honor their own fathers, change and improve their legacies, modify their roles as fathers to be more than "providers," and embrace other roles such as mentors, listening boards and role models.

The theme for the event was "Changing Cycles," as the men seek to change the cycle of addiction, and "old school" patterns of thinking and behavior, such as substituting communicating and relating with their children for corporal punishment and providing a consistent presence in their children's and sometimes grandchildren's lives, rather than absenteeism.

"I'm honored to be here, talking to Veterans the same time that President Obama is hosting Veterans at the White House to discuss their roles as fathers," Jones said. Admitting to Veteran fathers in the audience that he is "a recovering knucklehead," Jones opened his keynote speech by chronicling his own addiction to and recovery from hard drugs beginning when he was only 13 years old, which instigated a long criminal record and robbed him of any contact with a son born at the height of his addiction. "Jail is not a deterrent to drug addiction. I can tell you that. Any drug addict can tell you that.  When I was addicted and in jail, I could devise all kinds of ways to get drugs," he said.  To kick the habit, Jones enrolled in a rehabilitation program that included a year-long stint at Spring Grove, an inpatient psychiatric facility.  As he became clean, he realized that in order to remain clean, he had to change the company he kept—his friends and associates, all who used drugs—had to go. "I also had to create new relationships with healthy people who were doing the things I wanted to do, and I had to reconnect with my son and that meant getting out of my comfort zone."

Read the rest of the story here »
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