Virginia Recovery Advocacy Project and 2023 General Assembly Recap with Tom Jackson

About the Episode

Date: March 15, 2023

Episode 18: Virginia Recovery Advocacy Project and 2023 General Assembly Recap with Tom Jackson


In this episode of Peer into Recovery, we discuss the 2023 General Assembly session as it pertains to the profession of peer support across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Several bills were up-for-debate between the two houses and the results, on the whole, were positive and progressive. From increased funding for services helping veterans reenter civilian life to health insurance now being required to cover mobile response and crisis stabilization services, there was significant progress moving the needle forward for peers in Virginia!

Tom Jackson is the R-PRS, CPRS-T at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. He is also the Organizer of the Virginia Recovery Advocacy Project (VRAP).

Tom Jackson’s “day job” is as a Registered Peer Specialist at Western State Hospital and his ‘night job” is as an Organizer with the Virginia Recovery Advocacy Project. He is also an Authorized Peer Trainer, training the next generation of Hope Brokers for people in recovery from Substance Use and/or Mental Health challenges.

His upbringing through the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, the Anti-War movement of the 60s and 70s, the HIV/AIDS/LGBTQIA+ movements of the 70s, 80s and 90s, and his personal recovery since 1991 have all come together in his grassroots leadership to support and train new advocates to use tools such as Organizational Leadership based on the work of Marshall Ganz at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a related tool called Personal Narrative to engage and call others to action to fix our broken mental health and substance use treatment systems that allow hundreds of thousands of people to die from preventable overdose or suicide every year, many of them in Virginia.

He finds hope in the dedication and recovery of the clients he works with at Western, in the recovery programs he attends, and in watching others challenge the status quo that has to change to end the War on Drugs and start a War for Recovery.

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