Helping Hand at Coatesville VA Pulls Veterans Out of Drowning Waters of Addiction

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A helping hand pulled Jodi Savits out of addiction 17 years ago, and now she’s doing the same as the Fresh Start director at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. Image via Jessica Griffin, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Decades ago, she was drowning in drug addiction. Now she’s pulling others out of those same waters — 156 last year alone.

The life that Jodi Savits nearly ended through a suicide attempt in 2000 just won a 2017 Voice Award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report by Dan Geringer.

“She’s been through it. That breeds trust,” said Iraq veteran and recovering heroin addict Christopher Miller. “I learned to love Jodi. She’s come from the bottom, and look at her now.”


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Savits has emerged from 23 years of drug and alcohol addiction to lead the Fresh Start recovery program at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and her leadership style centers around actively looking to make connections with veterans.

“I walk around the building, go into the community room, and out back to the smoking area,” she said of her role at Fresh Start. “I don’t hide in the office.

“I think there’s hope for anybody. It’s a matter of finding the best way for each individual to get there. If you have diabetes, you can do X, Y, and Z to keep the diabetes under control. Addiction is not like that. Years pass. Time’s like a blur. You don’t even realize you’re getting so far sucked in that you get to a point where you don’t know what to do anymore.”

Read more of Jodi Savits’s story and her work at Fresh Start in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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