Veterans are misdiagnosed and overmedicated by Veterans Administration

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When our military personnel return from war, America depends on the Veterans’ Administration (VA) to provide for them. Unfortunately, veterans are misdiagnosed and overmedicated by the poorly government-run VA, particularly in dealing with trauma and injuries sustained from war.

MISDIAGNOSING - When our Vietnam veterans returned, after being exposed to Agent Orange, psychiatrists ignored the toxic effects of it, labeling it “post Vietnam syndrome” – a prequel to PTSD.  Sgt. David McGregor said, “I remember, back in the 60′s, when I first came in the service, that people coming back from Vietnam were wringing Agent Orange out of their clothes—they were told they were under stress…”

Psychiatrists were also quick to overlook Gulf War Syndrome, saying it was a mentality thing, simply PTSD. Staff Sgt. Steve Robertson, a Gulf War Veteran, was told by his psychiatrist that he suffered from anger and merely needed to vent it.

During Iraq, troops were exposed to depleted uranium (D.U.). D.U. was used in the shells and cannons, and once fired and contact was made, microscopic particles disperse, and most likely were inhaled by many troops. If inhaled,

these particles can lodge in lungs, other organs or bones, irradiating (radiating) tissue and causing cancers… If it takes another decade to acknowledge the effects of today’s chemical warfare, hundreds of thousand of troops could be further falsely targeted as having PTSD, preventing their getting the proper medical care they need. Meanwhile, debilitating psychiatric drugs—both physically and mentally—could exacerbate their untreated medical condition.

OVERMEDICATED - The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has taken PTSD, a normal response to tragic situations, and made it an abnormal mental condition. By doing so, psychiatrists have made a lot of money off of the government and insurance companies by diagnosing the “disorder”, and pharmaceutical companies have profited from the over-prescribing of medication to treat it.

A change in environment is not as profitable as labeling and drugging those giving their all for their country… psychiatrists expect many of the country’s troops to…”live” with the aftermath of war, existing in a drugged-out haze…

They are making millions not only from this but also in conducting research into how drugs can best mask the unwanted reactions to war…

As long as the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry determines what the VA, insurance companies and the Government pays out for the needs of troops and returning vets, they will be at risk -KESQ.com News

Deaths due to overdoses of prescription medication for PTSD are more common than what the average American wants to accept. According to a CBS News report,

veterans are dying of accidental overdoses of narcotic painkillers at a much higher rate than the general population…

Treating PTSD is complicated… like trying to build a house during an earthquake - Catherine Coppolillo, psychologist, VA Medical Center in Milwaukee.

It’s easier to write a prescription for narcotics, and just move along, get to the next patient -VA doctor asking to remain unidentified

There’s an overuse of narcotics. It’s the first reflex for pain. The people in charge said, ‘We want you to sign off on narcotic prescriptions on patients you don’t see’. I was absolutely stunned. And I knew immediately it was illegal. It works on the surface. It keeps the veterans happy. They don’t complain. They’re not coming in as often if they have their pain medicine. And the people in charge don’t care if it’s done right. -Dr. Phyllis Hollenbeck, physician, VA medical center, Jackson, Mississippi

It can take months to get an appointment and by the time you get in,  they try to pacify you, and  they don’t really listen to your needs or know your history.  When you’re on your meds you run into people who don’t exactly know why you’re taking them and that’s frightening – Vietnam Veteran Morgan Murdock

A Vietnam veteran I met didn’t show any obvious signs of PTSD. Yet he told me of how he tenses up and struggles when surrounded by woodsy areas. He has anxiety when in heavy traffic. Compare that to an Afghanistan veteran friend of mine who doesn’t sleep well, has become isolated, uses alcohol and marijuana to deal with internal turmoil, and doesn’t sleep well due to night sweats. Then there’s my Air Force friend, a Bosnia veteran, who suffers with sleeplessness due to nightmares, and alcoholism at one time, to numb the pain. My brother-in-law, an Iraq veteran, suffers with sleeplessness, isolation and alcoholism that brings out the killer in him.

Will one type of medication, or a special cocktail of medication, help each one of these veterans across the board? Has the attending doctor and psychiatrist calculated in any of their injuries or the medication already prescribed for those injuries? Should we simply just medicate our veterans and hope for the best?

The story of Army Spc. Scott McDonald is a heartbreaking example of how our veterans are struggling, and dying under a system that has failed them.

Five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan left 35-year-old Army Spc. Scott McDonald with chronic back pain. His wife Heather says that ‘over the course of a year, VA doctors in Columbus, Ohio prescribed him eight pain and psychiatric medications…It just got out of control. They just started pill after pill, prescription after prescription…and he’d come home with all brand-new medications, higher milligrams. Then a VA doctor added a ninth pill — a narcotic called Percocet.

Later that evening, Heather came home from work and found Scott disoriented on the couch. ‘And I asked him,’ Heather recalled, ‘You didn’t by chance by accident take too many pills, did you?’ And he’s like, ‘No, no. I did what they told me to take, Heather.’ 

‘I popped a pillow under his head and that’s how I found him the next morning, exactly like that.’ McDonald wasn’t breathing. The coroner’s report ruled his death accidental. He had been “overmedicated” and that he died from the combined effects of five of his medications…

‘…he trusted his doctors. My husband served honorably and with pride and dignity– not to come home and die on the couch…’,

McDonald isn’t the only one…

“Chad Mitchell, a Navy veteran of multiple deployments died in September 2010 with a half-dozen prescription drugs in his system, including anti-anxiety medication and powerful painkillers oxycodone and methadone prescribed by physicians in a private pain clinic and VA doctors. Mitchell suffered from PTSD, chest pain from an earlier operation and nerve pain from a shoulder injury in Iraq.” via Statesman.com

“22-year-old Clint Dickey drove from College Station to Waco to try to see a VA doctor for back pain caused by an injury he suffered in Afghanistan. They gave him an appointment for four to six weeks later. He died of an accidental prescription drug overdose a few days later. His wife says, ‘I think the checks and balances on our soldiers after they get back is absolutely disgraceful.’” via Statesman.com

I had become a sort of medicated drone. All emotion turned into apathy and I found myself lackadaisical and eventually felt meaningless… It was as if my brain chemistry went whack… Psychiatrists under contract with the Veteran Affairs—in my opinion—are legal drug dealers who almost took my life.” - Former Marine Scout Sniper

“…rather than help them cope, they are literally being drugged to death in a large-scale experiment that goes ignored… We are experimenting with changing people’s cognition and behavior.”  -Dr. Grace Jackson, Former military psychiatrist

How many more veterans are suffering and dying? How many are suicidal from the medication given to them by the very people paid to help them?

“While treatment for emotionally troubled soldiers increasingly consists of antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, recent investigations show that these drugs are no more effective than placebos and can actually increase suicidality.” -Bruce E. Levine, Ph.D., clinical psychologist

If this is how government healthcare looks like for our military and veterans alone, one must wonder how the government plans to provide effectively for an entire nation…

Veterans don’t go into the military asking for benefits, they go in because of the Pledge of Allegiance, because they believe in their country, because they want to protect the people in the country… Counseling and education will do more for these veterans than any pill you could ever give them… Vietnam Veteran Ronnie Imel

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