CINCINNATI -- They served our country but now they’re fighting another battle -- heroin addiction.
A Tri-State group is trying to help U.S. veterans turn the tide against the deadly drug.
Officials and recovering addicts at the Joseph House said addiction among veterans is rising.
For nearly 20 years the Joseph House has helped veterans with drug addictions.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: Heroin in the Tri-State
“We don't leave a soldier behind,” case manager Britton Carter said.
Those there say they've seen a rise in the number of veterans on heroin. A driving factor of that addiction is due to traumatic injuries.
Anthony Vanoli served in the Army for 12 years. He was named a Solider of the Year and later became a recruiter.
“I loved the service. I loved every minute of it,” Vanoli said.
However, when a training exercise injury took him off the front lines and into recovery. It was during that time that Vanoli became hooked on pain medication and then heroin.
“Once I started doing heroin things came crashing down so fast I couldn't believe it,” Vanoli said.
The decorated solider turned to theft to support his habit. Vanoli was eventually caught and spent time in prison.
“I succeeded at everything I tried to do and then this heroin came and it was the only thing in my life I could not fight through,” Vanoli said.
Even after completing his sentence, Vanoli still couldn’t get clean.
“What it took for me was a call from my now ex-wife to tell me I could no longer see my children. That's when I called the Joseph House,” Vanoli said. “It's about taking the initiative to save your own life.”
Workers at the Joseph House said they hope to help more vets like Vanoli onto the road to recovery. Vanoli said he has been clean for nine months now.