Local assemblyman says California failed to provide substance abuse program for veterans

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local assemblyman wants answers from the state's Health and Human Services Agency about a program designed to help veterans.

A day before Veteran's Day, Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) says the state of California has failed to provide a substance abuse program on which many California veterans rely. "We're not as a state, fulfilling our responsibility," said Mathis. "I believe we can do better."

Mathis, a veteran himself, has sent a letter to the secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency. It's the agency he says took over the state's Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) more than two years ago. "While the state funding has apparently transferred from agency to agency, the programs have not," Mathis said.

Mathis says a constituent recently called him to complain about a 1-800 number the agency still offers to the California Department of Veterans Affairs. It's a number Mathis says he called himself, only to be redirected to a number for county services. "Now if you're a veteran out there struggling and you've finally decided and finally got the courage to call and this is what you're met with," Mathis said. "It's just another road block and this isn't helping our veterans."

In his letter, Mathis asks the secretary: Why is the agency continuing to offer this number? Why aren't they funding and supporting the former programs? And where are the funds from the former program going?

Action News called the Department of Health Care Services (part of CHHS) and this is their response: "The programs and functions of the former Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) were integrated into the Department of Health Care Services in 2013. There has been no change in the level of program support or funding for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) services as a result of that transition."

DHCS administers the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) block grant funding to counties for SUD services, and counties allocate that funding based on their local needs. As a condition of the SAPT funding, states are required to provide and maintain an 800 helpline to route callers for assistance. DHCS operates an 800 helpline that routes callers to their county, which is where treatment services are delivered. More information can be found on our website."
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