PTSD and Pain Management: VA’s Latest Research

As a leader in health research, VA prides itself on delivering care to Veterans that is supported by scientific evidence and input from experts.  We specifically bring together clinicians, policy makers, educators and scientists to address the health care needs of the Veterans we are proud to serve.

After a decade of war, researching and finding ways to effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of VA’s most important tasks.  For example, VA has led the way in developing effective treatments for PTSD including two important non-drug approaches, like Cognitive Processing Therapy and Prolonged Exposure. These therapies may be offered as part of a comprehensive plan for helping Veterans address their symptoms of PTSD, with or without the use of medications.

A record number of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have survived their war injuries and now face pain and mental health problems, particularly PTSD.  Consistent with these observations, VA is working to develop clinical programs that can effectively help Veterans with both of these issues in an integrated manner.  As just one example, VA researchers are currently evaluating the effectiveness of an integrated behavioral treatment for Veterans with chronic pain and PTSD.  Responding to feedback from Veterans, this approach is a particularly brief treatment that involves only six outpatient treatment sessions over a three week period.  Early findings from this research encourage optimism that this therapy can lead to meaningful improvements in both pain and symptoms of PTSD for Veterans.

Consistent with this effort, on March 7, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a VA study called, “Association of Mental Health Disorders with Prescription Opioids and High-Risk Opioid Use in Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.”  In plain terms, this study investigated the impact of mental health disorders, particularly PTSD, on risks and harm associated with the use of prescription pain medications (called opioids) for the management of chronic pain.  The study authors concluded that among U.S. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, those with mental health diagnoses, especially PTSD, were more likely to be prescribed opioid medications for pain management, and that Veterans with chronic pain and PTSD in particular, who were treated with opioids, experienced negative life events in the course of their care.

Unfortunately, little is known about the association of mental health disorders and prescription opioid use.  Although no one would argue that pain medications have no role in managing pain in Veterans with mental health disorders, VA recognizes the growing concerns about the potential for overreliance on these medications and possible negative effects of opioid therapy especially among Veterans with PTSD.   It remains unclear how to best treat these problems simultaneously, and in particular, how to use pain medications safely.  To address these concerns, VA continues to conduct research such as the study described above.

At VA, we know PTSD is a complex condition that can’t be treated solely by drugs.  We’re also aware that some Veterans are sensitive to the perception that VA may over-prescribe medications in some cases.  This is one reason why VA is working aggressively to ensure that all Veterans with PTSD who are interested are offered one of the behavioral therapies that have been proven to be effective.  At the same time, continued research to better understand the role of opioid and other medications in the management of chronic pain and PTSD is particularly important.

Serving Veterans is our #1 priority, and we’re glad to be working with those Veterans in our community to come together to find the best solutions to meet these issues head-on.

Dr. Robert D. Kerns is the National Program Director for Pain Management for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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57 Comments to “PTSD and Pain Management: VA’s Latest Research”

  1. Elenna says:

    That may be true for some Vets but not all unfortunately!

    • Dennis says:

      Elenna…I’m happy that you voiced your opinion about the article, “PTSD and Pain Management: VA’s Latest Research”. I would like to comment on this article, but I don’t think that the VA would appreciate it. Some of us Vets have to have Opioids such as Morphine to relieve chronic pain from a Physical Condition that should be Service-Connected due to the fact that the physical pain started when we ran around the field in PC training in basic training and that pain turned into the chronic pain that we experience today due to a congenital blood disorder which causes blood clots. This condition is the same thing as somebody with MS who receives a service connection because they have MS. The VA does not treat all Vets fairly when it comes to service-connected disabilities.

      • Jeff b says:

        I AGREE 100% I have for two years been trying to convince the doctors at the va that anti deppressants they have been pushing on me DONT WORK FOR ME! I found a medication that does and never should surprise anyone. The va wont perscribe it because of me mind yoy, because of substance abuse in the past well no shit who hasnt had some sort. So while im suffering with post traumatic stress disorder/recurrent depressive disorder. The va knos me better than me and my condition and instead letting me have a better quality of life they take the stance of accuseing me of being addict. The goal is to push you through there wonder programs say your better take your compen sation and throw you back on the street. I know what and how i feel and if the va thinks they are going to tell me how i feel and disregard the fact they have not got a clue.

    • Treymon says:

      Some Veteran’s have multiple diseases from Radiation Exposure to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome to Degenerative Disc disease that require further pain management regimens as well as help with their PTSD. It is a complicated treatment plan that requires many specialists. ( and therefore many consults) This is a nightmare for most Veterans.

      • Sam says:

        I agree, I have degenerative disc problems that caused mild scoliosis that sends pain down my whole left leg. My foot has the most pain that started during my 9 months of ait & although I receive compensation for my foot, I was denied compensation for disc disease. I have a lawyer now working on my appeal, but this shouldn’t be nessecarry. I have bills to pay, luckily no family or else I’d be on the street. Going from a substantial income with several lines of credit to poverty level income & trying not to file bankruptcy, maybe 5-10 years from now I will be able to purchase that dream home using my VA Loan….

        • Jan English says:

          The VA was supposed to operate on the mortons neuroma in my left foot in 1980. Instead, they smashed into the area between the L4 & L5 vertebrae and I still have the foot problem and for 20 years insisted the lumbar area was not part of the spine. Now that I am a chair user, and so many years have passed, they admit that the lumbar is part of the spine, but all they can find is “quite a bit of arthritis, but will not admit to anything else. I am getting 90% – 100% for this. I feel I should be considered full 100%. It’s not the money, that is the same, but for all the pain I’ve had for the past 32 years, and their coverup in the matter, as they are prone to do, I feel that I have been cheated out of those years.

    • James says:

      I am a Gulf War vet that ended up getting retired because of medical reasons. The Army was a good experience overall, but the after effects of the injuries are hard to come to terms with. Most of doctors at VA tell me I am too young to have all these issues.
      PTSD was handled thru counseling and medications with mixed results at best. Pain management was handled thru medication and physical therapy. My liver and spleen are enlarging and blood tests started to show bad signs. I was switched to Oxicodone from Codene because it and other medications were harming my liver functions.
      About a year ago the VA started to treat me more like a drug addict than a soldier with pain issues from joint degeneration. I got so pissed at my primary care provider a couple of months ago and she finally backed off. No I do not do drugs or even drink or smoke.
      Our government policy makers asked us to do a job and we proudly did it and would do it again in a heart beat to keep this country and its citizens free. The policy makers need to support the VA and they both need to treat us like those who gave some and were willing to give it all.

    • Jeff b says:

      I am sorry if i get a re- post but i am not sure if my original comment went through. I have a hands down cant deny diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder/recurrent depressive disorder. The va has for my part has oved fairly well as far as compensation 70% waiting for decision on unemployabilit. The problem is if you cant see what is happening in the va with the programs for ptsd. They are makeing the way to make all believe ptsd is cureable and that after you go through these programs you willl have a better outlook in life only because financially its imperative for the va to pass it off as such. I have been trying to get the va to understand that the anti- depressents i have been told were and shoud help have done nothing for me. Well and the meds i do know give me a better quality of life? I cant have those acooarse and have by my own frustration as to why this is such a overly concern for those will never cure me of this dont know how i feel but that dont matter im told i dont either. I will continue to either let it seem ike im a addict seeking free pills and highs accoarding to va docs or continue to find a source that will listen to me have some compassion and maybe get some quality of life back.

    • vincent ginardi says:

      AS A VETERAN OF VIETNAM , HAVING SPENT MY 17TH AND 18TH BDAY IN COUNTRY WITH THE MARINES AS GRUNT, I SPENT 44 YRS SEARCHING FOR A RELIEF FROM PTSD, NOTHING THE VA OFFERED HELP, FINALLY I DISCOVERED THE “POWER OF PRAYER ” AND HAVE BEEN CURED.IT WAS AS THO A DUFFEL BAGS OF ROCKS FELL MY SHOULDERS, WHY DOES THE VA ELIMINATE SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS.
      VINCENT GINARDI
      POINTMAN MINISTRYS, PAGOSA SPRINGS, CO

  2. teoakley says:

    “Unfortunately, little is known about the association of mental health disorders and prescription opioid use”

    How many years have you been treating Vietnam Vets with opioids? and ignoring their PTSD. The VA has the data needed to answer their question about mental health disorders and prescription drug use

  3. calvin gotts says:

    Base on the artical about the VA working with the veterans, they made no mention about what the VietNam veterans are still going thru., VietNam verts are still around and need help just like the returing vets. We, are still going thru a lot of pain based on having sever PTSD and physical pain. We/I am hurting and need help to get thru each day. So, lets include the VietNam vet in these messages that are written. They deserve attention also and help.

  4. I am a vet from the Viet Nam era. In the past 5 or so years, it was discovered I suffered from PTSD. I am grateful for the meds that help me cope but my question is, The reason this is not covered in VA disability because it showed itself so long after. I retired in 1996.

    • WhistleBerries says:

      Richard – You need to find a better claims rep. (Do not pursue a VA claim on your own. Get help from AL, VFW or DAV – all should have offices at your nearest federal building.) Who discovered that you have PTSD? Hopefully, that was a doctor with MD behind the name. Get that doctor to write a statement about the diagnosis. Get a second opinion by another doctor, and have that doctor write a statement about the diagnosis. Give those to your claims rep and have the VA reconsider your claim, with new and material evidence. (I’ve been there, done that. My rating for PTSD is 70% and I did not serve in combat during the Vietnam era. My overall rating is 100%.)

    • gary says:

      You need to get a good DAV or VFW service officer. I don’t know who told you that there is a statue of limitations on PTSD but I don’t think that is true based on my own experience.

    • Bob says:

      Richard, I retired May of 97 and was diagnosed PTSD just 2+ years ago and since awarded 80% disability. Knowing what I know now….I have been dealing with this condition since early 80′s and it kept getting worse over the years. Get yourself a good VA Service Officer and keep going! If you’re like me…..simple tasks can be very challenging, just stay focused and gitter done!

    • Jim B says:

      Richard Caron

      I am a two tour Viet Nam Vet with the Purple heart. PTSD “IS” recognized
      compensable disability. For me, it only took 43 years to be recognized, and I was
      surprised that out of the blue, I received a letter directing me to a shrink. The
      end result was a 30% increase in my disabiliy rating. 40% + 30% = 60%, but it’s better that the kicks in the behind that I had grwon comfortable with.

    • jacquesdaspy says:

      The VA has recently recognized LOSS. (Late-Onset Stress Symptomatology) Google it ad even an article on the VA will pop. Many Vietnam Veterans are recently showing up at the VA having been able to cope with their PTSD until their mid-fifties. My “episode” occurred at 55. After that I soon became unemployable. My second episode was at age 61 and that sent me to the VA. I am not “service connected because we all know that the Cuban Missile Crisis “never happened?”

      • A vietnam vets wife says:

        So because you think you have coped with your PTSD for years, does that mean you dont need help. Well i can only speak for myself and my family but my husband has PTSD which we didnt even know what it was until a private doctor recently explained to us what it is. So for many years, my life has been a living hell dealing with issues from his ptsd(which i thought he was just crazy) and im sure for him as well(who would know he doesnt know how to FEEL anything), so does that make it right or ok, NO it doesnt , he needs help so we can try to function as a some what normal family. Raising children for years , not knowing he had PTSD has not been easy.Trying to explain to them , why there father is different.(at least now we know why but SO for us dealing with it, one would think is ok, but i cant deal with it anymore, nor should i have to.He needs help and the VA needs to recognize he has PTSD and help us.

  5. Dot says:

    I’m happy to hear that the VA is taking care of the Iran and Afghanistan vets. It’s unfortunate that the same concern and care is still not being provided to our Viet Nam vets. They are the forgotten servicemembers that are still being ignored for their service to their country and not being treated for the PTSD or other medical issues caused by their service. I know. I have fought the battle with VA for 15 years for my husband and have found that the VA is more agressive in finding reasons not to provide disability benefits then to acknowledge the medical issues they have and provide compensation. Our Viet Nam vets have never received the honor they deserve.

  6. Sharon Rhine says:

    Channel 7 KVIA El Paso Texas aired a story…service dog strife at Fort Bliss. Please find and view the video. Our veterans deserve better.

  7. William Anderson says:

    I will pass on my comment as a Vietnam Veteran. When you guys return home please seek help with this problem. When I returned home I was one of the lucky ones who found a great job which consumed my time and thoughts. After 40 years later I retired and naturally started watching the news and found myself upset and crying about the things I seen and heard. Now Ive been found to have PTSD relating to Vietnam. Of course the VA does not agree but they will give me treatment. As of this date its been cancelled twice but its coming. So seek help when you return home.

    • k@1z3n says:

      I am a Gulf War Veteran and like you. After I was discharged from the Marine Corps I was thrown back into society with no understanging of PTSD. I started working and found my outlet to be work. I would work 60-80hrs a week and had done that for years. It wasn’t until the big economical crunch that hurt the USA when my PTSD came out. I was no longer allowed to work as much as I had been so my mind would drift off into the past and things from the war would haunt me. I would find myself at my desk tearing up and asking myself why am I here and some of my Marine buddies were not. It’s a battle I have been fighting the VA. I take multi. medications for PTSD and have had the counseling. Nothing is working for me. I’m about to loose my job because all of the VA appointments, my wife stays mad at me because she doesn’t understand my situation. My thoughts is the VA doctors are keeping us doped up to stay shut up. I would encourage any vet who is fighting the system do what I have currently done. I called Rep4Vets and they have accepted my case 2 weeks ago. I will get whats comming to me it’s only a matter of when now. Semper Fi.

      • clr says:

        Your story sounds a bit familiar to me. After my service in the USAF and USAFR, serving during the Marcos revolution in the PI, physical sexual and mental abuse, and of course the Gulf War, I too threw myself into my work putting in 10 to 16 hour days 6 and 7 days per week. Then in 2007 after back injuries sustained in auto accidents, mysterious GI bleeds requiring hospitalizations, migraines, multiple joint problems of swelling stiffness and pain, rashes, fevers, COPD, emphysema, osteoporosis (at 45 y/o), prehypertension, high cholesterol & triglicerides, and major depression, I found myself unemployed and unemployable due to medications and absences. While there was no question of the 3 disc herniations in my lower back that are inoperable, it took over 4 years to get diagnosed with lupus and PTSD/military sexual trauma. It is only due to my financial status that I am receiving treatment through the VA. I am afraid to apply for and obtain SSDI because I am afraid of getting booted from priority group 5 to 8 and unable to receive treatment. I know I can probably get a small partial disability for the PTSD, but I seriously doubt I can prove all of the other stuff to be linked to my service and the back problem is not related. I need the treatment there for all of the physical problems as much as I do the PTSD. In the interim they keep me on 18 prescribed meds. And some of the dr’s do treat you like an addict; I went to the ER back in 01/09 for severe mind blowing rib pain and that is exactly how I was treated, I was told there were no fractures and to go home. When I had my follow up with my primary she told me I had a displaced rib fracture and asked how I did it. Another mystery, it broke without doing anything, it just broke. The next year it happened again. I smell Gulf War Syndrome with all this weird stuff.

  8. VFW Life Member says:

    How extensively has the VA looked into Virtual Reality Technology as an adjunct therapy to current clinical therapy? There is compelling data via clinical trial work that shows significant improvement with this VR Tech in combination with clinical therapy vs. clinical therapy alone!

    Search Dr. Mark Wiederhold, MD for his work on PTSD and you’ll find the technology he is working on provides a four fold improvement vs. clinical therapy alone!!!

    Let’s make sure all our Combat Vets are cared for with the best science available!!

    Respectfully,

    A VFW Life Member

    • vets wife says:

      I agree with your comment and yes they all deserve the best medical care out there. (just wish that was the case) I believe most people would agree to that comment, so why dont they listen? All these problems and issues have been going on for way to long. The world gets it now(I think), so lets do the right thing for all our vets and families.

  9. Bob Cass says:

    What happens when the PSTD comes from one’s childhood? Add to that Military Era service during the Vietnam War cut short due to a drug addiction from the non treatment of said PSTD. My other concern is that while my doctors (not VA) were giving me all these meds to feel better they kicked the hell out of my body. And I’m not talking opiates. When the doctor’s had me on codeine I was in a decent living condition. I was able to function. Now with a deteriorating spine from arthritis, bad stomach, being given Ibuprofen or Naproxen is unsettleing. Add to it the anti depressants that help very little with obesity, high blood pressure, numerous skin ailments, sleep apnea, sinus trouble, and there is more. What kind of quality of life is there? Crap!! At least on opiates I didn’t need to think about self annihilation. I am being punished again for my youthful addiction. As they say in AA…”Poor Me”.

    • they_got _it_all_wrong says:

      Why is it , they are so concerned with there childhood anyway? Did they care about there childhood when they enlisted? If the VA excepted them at there time of enlistment , as being Perfectly healthy(mentally and physically) during there medical exam and comes home with ANY medical problems from the times spent in war, I would think thats reason enough to say they deserve all the respect and care and C/P the VA has. Stop worring so much about there childhood and start helping these vets . .

    • jacquesdaspy says:

      The Army was chastised for separating in excess of 22,000 soldiers by diagnosing “pre-existing Personality Disorder” and discharging “under conditions other than honorable” which denies they all benefits, including VA MC care. This is an attempt to avoid medical discharges and the associated expense. These kids were initially “suspected” PTSD cases. They were referred to the VA for reevaluation but the VA has now adopted the Personality Disorder diagnosis. It is a process than can only be corrected by the president, the Army and the VA belong to the Administrative Branch.

      • vietnam vet says:

        pre-existing 22,000 vets, saves them a ton of money but if they all would have gotten a second option from the private sector medical profession , im sure those 22,000 diagnosis would be incorrect. go figure it out and you will see why they did what they did to our honorable vets who served this country.

  10. Paul says:

    As a veteran with severe chronic PTSD and chronic pain issue, I do not recieve the proper care for both issues. There are thousands of other veterans that are like me. We need help and alot of it.

    • jacquesdaspy says:

      It was only October 2010 that the VA recognized the correlation or co-morbidity of Chronic Pain and PTSD. Your pain can be “neuropathic” or not associated with a physical injury. When I was in the pain clinic I learned that they were one of only ten throughout the VA Medical Centers. I take Hydorcocone which only caps the pain, no more #9s. My pain is directly related to my stress level. (PTSD is a “stress disorder”) I have had to learn to de-stress or else.

      • Sam Thompson says:

        Is this why i’ve been in chronic pain for so many years? It all started since my colon was removed because of the Nam war and the stress I’ve had so many years. I can’t be around fireworks yet to this day and any loud noises make me jump drastically after 42 years, this pain has gotten worse at times and once in awhile I get a good day but that is about once a year or more, can’t remember when the last one was. I was diagnoised with PTSD but declined treatment knowing that some of my friends can’t buy guns afterward plus they are treated different when getting on flights ect. I have been taken care of by the VA and can’t complain while everyday I get the two pain meds I need sometimes they work and sometimes not. I take to many pills as far as I’m concerned but I can’t quit or I wouldn’t be able to stand the pain and headaches which I also get from time to time now but they were really bad until I started the cymbalta. Although I take that it doesn’t seem to help the pain but the headaches are gone considering the last ones were for three months. Anyway if you are persistent and stay civil someone somewhere in the system will help you get what you need. Thanks for reading my sob story. Another Brother in arms. Sam

    • clr says:

      As another one of the thousands you refer to, Agreed. And we need more than just our medications.

  11. Alberto Serrano says:

    Doctors in Puerto Rico VA Hospital seem not to know what is PTSD. Many of our fellow soldiers who are suffering this condition are overlook by Doctors and not treated accordingly. Just walk down the hallways and the story is the same to all.

  12. Jim B says:

    These stories make me wonder. I wasn’t diagnosed until 2003, and not recognized
    as having PTSD until July of 2011. I have never asked for treatment, because for me
    the problem was with the rest of the world. I still do not receive treatment, but the knowlege I’ve gained over the years, and a VERY patient wife, I’m good.

    There are treatment centers, for those that are wanting treatment. Call or visit a VA hospital, or talk to local VFW, they can and WILL help.

  13. Sgt David T says:

    Anyone who has looked for help for PTSD, chronic pain, aid and attendance or with any special programs offered by the VA will find services all geared for post 9/ 11 veterans of service members. The numerous Vietnam Veterans suffering from the same issues and in need of the same care are still tossed aside and ignored. No matter what Period of War you served in or a service connected for you are entitled to the same help, programs and benefits to get help with what you endured when you served this country during a period of war yet the Viet nam Vet remains pushed aside and forgotten–ignored and abandoned.

    • Dawn says:

      I also have PTSD however it is not combat related. Mine is from MST military sexual trauma. I am not sure what va this article is referring to because I have had multiple surgeries on my shoulder to add to my PTSD pain and I can barely get a motrin prescribed. As fars as PTSD treatment 95% of the programs are geared towards combat related PTSD. Programs for PTSD deriving from mst are few and far between. I was fortunate enough to go through a program in st pete, fl that was for mst. The therapy used in this program was exposure therapy….basically you write about it and talk about in a way that actually makes you feel as though you are reliving the trauma over. I know it sounds bad but it was very beneficial for me. For those interested research exposure therapy. Lastly try proving to the va that you have been through sexual trauma while serving. If you didn’t tell anyone for fear of consequences or shame how can you prove it or get disability for it. Also I was attacked by a vet in a va hospital who attempted to rape me nothing was done and the va police didn’t even have him arrested. I didn’t know until the stairs of limitations had passed that I could file a claim so now I have been duped twice.

    • clr says:

      Not trying to belittle our Vietnam Vets, you lived and survived a horrific time of service and aftermath, but is the same with or close to the same for Gulf War era vets; basically all those who served from Vietnam time frame to the present war seem to have been left to fall between the cracks where any benefits are concerned.

  14. MSG(R) B. Carter says:

    I have been diagnosed with PTSD and TBI, I served for 29.6 years as a Army Engineer. There are so many hazards I have been exposed to include death and yet the VA wants records for seeing doctors. Can someone “PLEASE” assist with updating the system that medics don’t running around on the battle field with lap tops updating your medical record each time a soldier says medic! I have called and wrote letters to Senators and other elected officials with very little results is there an answer ever

  15. vets wife says:

    What amazes me the most about PTSD or any claim for that matter is, example the comment above from WhistleBerries , get Private Doctors to do the EXACT same evaluation as the VA did, and write a statement about the diagnosis. Yes, it does help with the C/P but why should it have to come down to a veteran who served there country and go outside the VA services to get a accurate C/P claim awarded. There is no justification, nor should there be any reason a veteran should even have to seek out help in the private sector. I just dont get it. What is wrong with this country? I feel sorry for those who cant seek out help from the private medical field, its so wrong. There shouldnt be that much difference in a diagnosis from a VA medical doctor and a Private medical doctor.(but there absolutely is) So yes, i totally agree with the comment above but it still doesnt make it right. The VA should be accountable for the misdiagnosis. Then this senseless stuff would not happen to any veteran, ever again.

    • Robert says:

      I was discharged while on leave after serving my thirteen months in Viet Nam. I was diagnosed as schitzsophranic, PTSD I suspect, at the time hadn’t been identified. I ended up in a phycho ward and when I tried to leave AMA a VA Dr. brought me to court after loading me up with 600 mg of thorozine. Because of the unusal high dosage, needless to say I appeared incoherent and unable to represent myself and was committed to be placed on a locked down phycho ward and I was discharged and received 30% SC disability (should have been 50%) Dr’s since told me I was not schitzo and never was? I since received a data processing AAS degree and worked for the VAMC for twenty years and have retired as the system administrator GS 12 step 4. I am now rated at 100% which I receved 15 years later. I paid my dues and I’m a lifetime member of the DAV. Anything I get from my combat action expierence I feel is well deserved

  16. Ryan says:

    I have experienced PTSD for over 40 years. MANY VA programs have been gone through in an effort to find relief from this disability. Pain has become a vibrant issue as I have grown older and endure this malady longer. The physical pain on a daily basis often reaches the 8 to 10 scale with numerous conditions signifigantly contributing to it. MY local VA facility will neither allow me referral to larger and more significant clinics in larger VA facilities nor will they allow me to use opiod medications. The acetametaphine prescribed brings about one half hour relief. I go crazy with the pain on a nearly daily basis and subsequently my daily activities are very limited. Each time I think I can no longer stand it for another day, God gives me the strength to endure, but I wonder why. Maybe that is why nearly 100000 vietnam vets found themselves with less lively alternatives. I really don’t blame them and oft times regret not having the guts they did to relieve themselves of thier pain. The odd part of all this is that physical pain can’t hold a candle to the mental pain of PTSD. That is with you ALL the time were physical pain does bring occasional relief.

    • jacquesdaspy says:

      Many Vietnam Veterans came home with PTSD but PTSD didn’t exist until 1980. Many of the vets self medicated for years before the VA caught up with reality. I have no medical concerns that could be responsible for the level of pain that I experience. It took several months of classes and evaluations before I was finally referred to the pain clinic. Indy happens to have one of only ten pain clinics in the VA system.

  17. Ryan says:

    Mr Kerns:
    I would challenge you to walk in my footsteps or other vietnam vets, in dealing with the frustrations of VA medical facilities and constant daily pain in addition to PTSD. You’re attitude in this article would be significantly enhanced by reality rather than booklearning. Yes I have a disability rating but what good does it do me – or others like me. I am close to looking at the grass on the brown side. That does not however reduce my compassion for youger veterans who will have to endure what we Vietnam Vets have had to endure the past 35 years. It is unfortunate that the VA system will NOT be there to give them the help they need.

    • Sam Thompson says:

      I think we all keep going like you say Mr Kerns because even though we could pull the trigger it would devastate our families and what they would have to live with afterwards wouldn’t justify our easy way out. Hell it hurts me to be in front of this computer to type much less move about. I try to exercise but that is futile for the most part, and the meds are the only thing that keeps my finger away fro the metal, ya all know what I mean. I have questioned if I were addicted after the last 15 years on pain meds and the doctors say I’m not so hopefully I am good to go, I do hope they never cut me off the pain meds though cause I believe that might be the end straw. On another not hang in there and bug everyone at the VA until they know your name by heart and all will start to go ones way. I would like to add I’ve tried many different meds including morphine and that don’t do nothing for me just the tramadol 50mg and 500mg vicodin seems to work pretty good together. Good Luck Brother.

    • vietnam vet says:

      well said, just take a look around Mr. Kerns and you will see the truth.

  18. Chris says:

    The VA is a joke. PERIOD.

  19. Jon m says:

    Wow. 40 plus years ago I was within inches of a RPG explosion that ripped me up. Now, so called “new research” claims that the opiates prescribed to me for chronic pain should be heald back cause the VA has new “behavioral treatment”.
    Too, over the years I have seen other vets treated like “addicts” because of their use of opiates for chronic pain. Might explain why I deal with a private physician, outside the VA to manage my chronic pain. I am too old to be jerked around.
    Semper Fi

  20. mrquake says:

    I have PTSD that is not service related. I have injuries that are service related in my opinion. the VA disagrees (due to a paperwork technicality).. Be that as it may. I have received multiple treatments at my local VA Pain Clinic. (transforanimal steroidal injections) to the spine, trigger points and nerve blocks, I have had multiple blood clots and non narcotic muscle relaxers over the last 5 years. I have also received several synvisc injections to bith knees. I continually have to argue with my doctor for a treatment plan that has a consistent schedule of the injections which provide a reasonable source of relief, to no avail. When she is unwilling to provide that, I request stronger medications for pain relief. She is unwilling to provide those (vicodin,oxycodone). Yet I see other patients receiving them with no problems for lesser injuries that are received line of duty. Is this a policy issue?

  21. Tom says:

    I fell on ice in 1983 and broke my back and neck , Had to have emergency surgery to remove
    bone fragments from my spinal cord , I have nerve damage and pain and neuropathy shooting down my legs and spine which pretty much leaves me bedridden most of the time , I ended up being prescribed Oxycontin and it changed my life ! I started my own business and was doing good until the “expert” doctors decided to take me off of them and put me on Methadone , That stuff made me feel so bad and sick most of the time I couldnt hack it so they put me on Morphine which really sucks because it makes me feel bad most of the time and i have absolutely no energy what so ever ! I have asked to be put back on the Oxycontins but they wont do it , I want my life back it is so cruel knowing that the medication is out there that would give me back control of my life and knowing that most doctors are afraid to prescribe it nowadays ………….I am sick and tired of being tired and sick because of a bunch of junkies , I would like to meet a doctor who speaks fluent legible english and understands what I am trying to say !

  22. Larry Williams says:

    I submitted a complaint to the Board of Pharmacies about the following events. I am wondering if the case has been disposed , pushed aside, released as spam, listed as irrelevant, iresponsible, and immaterial, or been entered into the hall of shame (File 13- the waste basket). I have yet to hear anything. Does this mean the law, which always seem to be against me, has allowed the accused to get the preverbial ducks in a row to explain how he can fill an order for a customer (White Lady) while denying and outright discriminating against another customer (Black Man) ? I grew up involved in two worlds, The Bronx and Durham, North Carolina. I had hoped the status of the persons of America had changed and there were no outright racism allowed. In the 50s I drank from the dirty water spigot with the sign “colored” over it. I rode in the back of the bus. I was subjected to the choice of vanilla ice cream at a counter where just across it
    white americans had a choice of 15 flavors. I could go on and on and on.

    The following is a deposition concerning my visit to a CVS to fill a prescription. I am a Viet Nam era veteran. I am a patient of a Florida pain mgmt clinic. I would normally visit the pharmacy at Bay Pines Med. cnter. Unfortunately, they don’t carry my prescription,oxycodone 30s. There seems to be an overwhelming demand for these meds. Now, the problem:
    Local pharmacies are running out of these oxycodones. To the point some either refuse to carry them and or “hold them” for their special customers. I have tried to acquire this perscription for days with no luck. On this particular day listed below, my friend Melissa went to the window and was told to come back and pick up her script in 20 mins. I had gone inside, clean shaven, nicely dressed, ect (so as no excuses for denial) and was told ” we are out of this medication and haven’t had them for a couple of weeks now.”OK ! In the back they are filling the script for my friend Melissa (listed below)who happens to be white. Now, was I denied because I was Black? Is it because I was a man? Is it because I am left handed and not right handed ?
    Is this a subject taught in CVS mamagement training classes? I ask for your assistance in finding any info you might be able to accumulate about this issue.

    Is it not against the law to commit such an act upon another consumer? I am in dire need of knowing of any statues concerning my plight for the greater state of Florida. Could you direct me to such a site? who might I complain? Where do I go from here? I am truly stumped. Is is a…

    • EFT4Me says:

      Sir I’m not a lawyer but I would think The American Civil Liberties Union would either be able to help you, or know who could. I wouldn’t go into too many details as far as your 1950′s treatment. You might mention it at once you’ve been connected to the right help but to get into too much detail might take away from the heart of the matter. Especially on the phone, people directing you wouldn’t need the entire story or they might get distracted if too lengthy.
      Before you do pick up the phone for the ACLU I would get your info on paper in as much exact detail as possible. The date it happened, the name & address of the pharmacy (did you get the pharmacists or manager’s name ? If you walked in this store tomorrow would you recognize him & be able to get his name?) The name of the women, the prescribing Dr. etc. You could also mention the report you previously submitted, who you sent it to & the fact that it has never been followed up on. I wish You the very best of luck & it saddens me that in this day & age, you where treated with such obvious discrimination……..Peace.

  23. Ray says:

    all this boils down to is the DEA thinks that Dr’s. give out to many pain meds. so the DEA is now harassing some Dr’s. that prescribe what they think are excessive prescriptions for pain meds. this agency need to stick to the illegal drugs coming over to border and let the FDA do there job. but it’s easier to jack up a Dr. than to catch a drug dealer, I almost forgot Dr’s. are drug dealers. we have way to much “government” law enforcement !

  24. NickCollide says:

    When I went to the West Palm Beach VA to get help detoxing and discontinuing the medications THEY GAVE ME, taken as directed, they gave me suboxone for the narcotics prescribed for my SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITY. They put me in a mental ward for two weeks because they no longer have a drug detox unit. Then because of the Suboxone, they labeled me a drug addict. So now I can not get an rx for anything scheduled. This includes ativan for stress (service connected) safer and more monitored narcotics for pain. Muscle relaxers or who knows what. The primary care doctor and specialty clinic personel treat me like a street intravenous heroin addict when all I did was take what THEY gave me. So now I have to go to outside doctors to treat my service connected disabilities and pay for Rx’s. Where is the justice in that. They are much more concerned with (misapplied) regulations than me as a patient and service connected vet with no prior record of drug abuse. I really have begun to hate and mistrust the VA and now fully understand the treatment that caused Vietnam veterans to go postal and avoid any contact with the VA or the Government.

  25. Cathy says:

    Wait… did I miss something here? Does the article state “Although no one would argue that pain medications have no role in managing pain in Veterans with mental health disorders…” So, if I have ptsd, then the injuries in both of my arms should not be taken care of regarding pain? Please tell me I’m misunderstanding something. I do not need opiods, nor want or like them, but some veterans have numerous very painful injuries. Just because they have ptsd doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taking the medication that best alleviates their pain.
    All of these comments are great and the VA needs to hear them directly from veterans. I work at a VA hospital and I believe every VA has a patient advocate. The more veterans who voice the poor healthcare they are getting, the more the VA has to fight with on our behalf. For example, our VA is short on mental health care providers and won’t hire any more!! What in the world are they thinking?! They also don’t fee base out for mental health. Please make your voices heard at the VA hospital as well as with the senate and congress. Together, we can make change for the better. But we have to work together and make our needs known. I know it’s hard to fight for something you should not have to fight for, but do it for our current and future warriors. Thank you, all of you, for your commitment and service.

  26. EFT4Me says:

    OK, I don’t know how to address you as under the title it says ‘Robert Kerns’ Yet a quick search identify s you as ‘Dr. Kerns’. Well Dr., As you probably have noticed you got a lot of angry comments from Veterans with your post. I can’t blame them as I feel angered as well. Let’s see, maybe it was this statement you made “Unfortunately, little is known about the association of mental health disorders and prescription opioid use. Although no one would argue that pain medications have no role in managing pain in Veterans with mental health disorders” Hmm. I’m a little confused, if LITTLE is known about the association between opioid s & mental health disorders (??)…to go onto say “No one would argue that pain medications have no role in managing pain” (HUH?)….Oh, that’s right but only if you go on to say… “for Veterans with mental health disorders”…No disrespect Sir, besides your thinking that you speak for the entire medical community. Because when you say ‘No one would argue’ it sounds very much like you speak for everyone. Thank God, you don’t.
    Because it’s attitudes like your own Sir, that anger some of the very people your supposed to be working FOR! So what is it you believe we should do with re guard to caring for massive injuries in the field? Like those who get injured from road side bombs? When they present at battalion aid station with ripped open chest woulds or compound fractures? Because often they have been previously injured in a prior tour, found to have PTSD & had been returned to duty (Because that’s what the military does) Do we not give them emergency morphine treatment for the pain because they have a past history? Obviously it would be barbaric, not to. So they get on pain meds & there you go. Off to the vicious cycle. Where the VA then determines that ‘pain is all in your head’ & prescribes ‘Anti-Depressants’ (The jury’s still out on those with MANY studies showing that there bout as effective as placebos) More pills, more side effects to mask ‘the pain’. More pills to treat the resulting side effects. Plus as many of us are acutely aware, some of those drugs do nothing but put people in a fog. How convenient for the VA! Keeps them nice & quiet, right Dr. ‘ manageable’ or as the VA calls it, ‘compliant’…
    Of course now your labeled as ‘drug dependent’, treated like a common criminal & of course never trusted from that time forward. Good luck now trying to get any ‘quality health care’ that you deserve for serving your country. By the way, you…

  27. charlie says:

    What a joke , so 22,000vets ALL had personality disorders, come on its the vietnam war that caused all these men and women to have pysche problems and its sure not a personality disorder. Wouldnt you think if that was the case they would have had some type of problems during there mental and physical exam when they enlisted(unless they werent very good doctors doing there exam) Something needs to be done about all this crap and long over due.