Opioid abuse awareness, Veterans courts focus of round-table discussion

VA officials participating in national Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week


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This week, across the nation, federal, state and local agencies, as well at their public and private sector partners are bringing attention to the public health crisis caused by drug overdoses.  During Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, Sept. 18-23, federal officials, led by the U.S. Department of Justice, are raising awareness of the crisis and hosting events focusing on the work being done to address opioid and heroin abuse.

“At the federal level, the Departments of Justice, Agriculture, Defense, Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services are using all available tools to combat this epidemic by expanding evidence-based prevention and treatment programs, increasing access to the overdose-reversal medicine naloxone, improving opioid prescribing practices, and supporting targeted enforcement activities,” according to an administration fact sheet released this week.

Sec. Bob McDonald visits Phoenix and Las Vegas VAMCOn Tuesday, VA Secretary Bob McDonald joined Principal Associate Attorney General Bill Baer and National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli to participate in a roundtable discussion on efforts to assist the nation’s Veterans suffering from opioid use disorder.

McDonald explained that in focusing on ending Veterans homelessness, which is down nationally by 47 percent since 2010, it became evident that substance abuse, not mental illness, is the number one risk factor behind Veterans homelessness.

“And all too often, that substance abuse begins with opioids prescribed by DoD or VA doctors for service-related conditions,” McDonald said. “Veterans are also more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and mental illness, which can lead to substance abuse, homelessness, criminality and even suicide.

“All of these things are preventable. We know that Veterans in our care are less likely to commit suicide, commit crimes or end up homeless. So our focus has been on getting at-risk Veterans into the VA healthcare system.”

For Veterans using VA health care, the Veterans Health Administration has implemented a system-wide opioid safety initiative to reduce the reliance on opioids and manage their use more carefully. Since 2012, the number of VA patients on opioids has been cut by 25 percent, the number of patients on long-term opioid therapy has been reduced by 30 percent and those on high-dose opioids are down 36 percent, and VA has collected more than 38,000 pounds of opioids from patients who don’t need them or want them.

Photo of a Veterans CourtVA is also working with justice-involved Veterans, partnering with more than 400 Veteran Treatment Courts to make sure eligible Veterans get timely treatment for mental health and substance abuse issues, and other VA services and benefits.  The results show these programs work: two-thirds of Veterans before Veteran Treatment Courts successfully complete their treatment regimens, 88 percent see a reduction in arrests and 30 percent see an increase in stable housing in the year after.

Given the success of the Veteran Treatment Court program, today, the Department of Justice announced awards totaling over $5.3 million to 13 state and local jurisdictions to help them expand the network of Veterans Treatment courts.

According to DOJ, “The awards, funded under the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s 2016 Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, provide government court systems with financial and technical assistance to develop and implement Veterans Treatment Courts that tailor substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and other transitional services for military Veterans who are substance abusers.”

“Our military Veterans often risk life and limb for their country,” said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer in announcing the grants.  “We owe our very best to help those who struggle with substance abuse get back on their feet, stay sober and successfully and productively integrate into civilian life.”

“Partnering with judges and courts that want to identify Veteran defendants and get them connected to needed VA treatment is how we best serve them,” said Secretary McDonald. “‎Veteran Courts are a perfect example of communities coming together to serve Veterans in a holistic way with VA care as a vital component.”

VA has a deep commitment to serving Veterans who are incarcerated, and partners with jails, prisons and courts to ensure Veterans who reenter the community have resources available to support their successful return. Even though recent national information has shown that both the rate and number of Veterans incarcerated has declined over time, VA maintains this commitment through two specialized programs: Health Care for Reentry Veterans  and Veterans Justice Outreach.

“If we are going to serve Veterans – all of them who have put so much on the line for all of us,” McDonald said, “then we’re going to have to work together to see that they have the best services and health care available.”

 

Author

Megan Moloney

— Megan served at VA from May 2013 to July 2018. She is the daughter, granddaughter and spouse of Army and Navy Veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Comments

  1. david reitter    

    Until Vietnam , our American culture or veterans knew very little about heroin or the new wonder, medical dope called weed. The only purpose Vietnam served is to destroy an American culture. According to Mr. Henry Kissenger in a letter at no time were we trying to stop Communism. Now , our American Justice System & the American military is blaming. the military , veterans of the military and Americans for using heroin brought into our country & sold to our citizens. Vietnam was not the problem . The problem is the people responsible for defending our homeland . Whats up with no protection & with all the dumb speeches.

  2. David Anderson    

    I have herniated discs in my lower back and a fused c-6-7. I have spinal stenosis in my neck. I’m 64 years old and still have to work. My VA doctor here in Phoenix told me I have been on pain meds too long, and she was stopping them this October. these meds have allowed me to work to support my family. What am I to do now? I sit all day at my job. My legs go numb, and I can barely make the short walk to my truck to go home. They told me I should walk a mile each day and swim to relieve my pain. I was dumbfounded. Why must I suffer because of the abuse of others?

  3. Randy Bradford    

    I had taken Hydrocodone for four years three times per day to relieve my lower back pain. A year ago I was assigned a new dr (5th Dr in 4 years) who cut the dose to two per day without ever having examined me (never met or spoke on the phone). When we did meet he said he needed to take all patients off opioid due to abuse and was only continuing my prescription because I was being “reasonable” about using them. When we discussed that not all users are abusers and it’s unfair to lump people that benefit from the use in with abusers he said we all don’t bomb planes but we all have to take our shoes off at the airport???? I adjusted my use to take them during the weekday to get thru my work week and just dealt with the pain on the weekends. Now he has cut the prescription down to 1 per day (again no discussion no appt no exam). It’s obvious this is not a medical decision but a bureaucratic decision. Medically he would have explored options WITH the patient. I have received the VA propaganda about vets are happier and healthier when they quit takin the opioids. Well this one is happier and healthier with a better quality of life taking the small amount I used to take before. I never asked for an increase passed every urinalysis (Oh yes they checked) yet get to go back to suffering daily instead of just weekends… Thank you VA for the “Quality of Life” care you used to give.

  4. Peter Garland    

    Wow, you got a lot of feedback. By the way would you let someone know – I tried to post a comment on the previous article – about the lady who got a job/housing/car for herself and her son and the computer told me there was no such address – that’s why there is no feedback shown, I guess.

    Now let me go look up opoid and see if my doctors are giving me any. As the playwright Moliere said 400 years ago, “More people die from the treatment than from their illness.”

    Mr. G MA
    USnAye

  5. Linda Prichard    

    This article is total BS! Try to get pain medicine from a VA doctor? Are you kidding? They are so tight with pain prescriptions that they squeak when they walk. And I am talking about LEGITIMATE and DOCUMENTED REASONS FOR PAIN. Make the mistake of telling the doctor what you need–you’re accused of “drug seeking.” Make the mistake of having legitimate pain and you are S.O.L. where it comes to the VA. They don’t even carry hydrocodone 10’s in their formulary!!! I am sick and tired of people who have addictive personalities screwing everyone else over who have legitimate pain problems. I also am sick of having to be every PARENT’S NURSEMAID to wayward children whose home drug cabinets likely were the start of their descent into “addictions.” I don’t give a damn about drug abusers and their problem controlling themselves. Stop affecting MY LIFE is what I have to say to them. I’ll be willing to bet money that this so-called “round table” with the VA doesn’t even have a single pain patient on board it! All this hoorah about opiod addiction and overdoses is being brought on by a few people who are looking for someone to blame for the loss and problems of their loved ones. I say, LET THEM BE IN PAIN for awhile and see how easy it is NOT to get legitimate pain medication to ease their suffering!

  6. Ron Speer    

    Meanwhile the ones who really need the opioids are having them taken away or reduced to a noneffective dose.Way to fo VA, it looks good on paper while our nations veterans continue to suffer for your guidelines. I had to go to a ‘real’ pain clinic to get help. I was tired of playing dumb games with the VA.

    Not all of us abuse them, we need them for quality of life. I would have never gone to war if I had known I would have been treated this way.

  7. Hilda Rodriguez    

    My husband was prescribed two opoids for many years because the VA refused to do knee replacement surgery and as the knees deteriorated, causing many falls, they finally sent him to an outside hospital. Now they refuse to pay for the second knee, which suffered damage due to overuse, in compensation of the first knee. He went to a private doctor, in the same clinic they’d sent him to for the first knee. We won’t even discuss the damage caused by a different type of surgery to his toes, done four times, which caused him unbearable pain. Thank God he heeded my insistence to stop taking the opoids. Two weeks later his primary care physician found some damage to his liver had begun. This they say is o.k. because it hasn’t gotten worse. Whom do we believe?

  8. Charles Walker    

    I have a shattered Rotatory Cup with tendon damage, shoulder, back injury . They told me too loose 100 lbs and they might con-ceder doing the surgery I need. Under the new rules they cut my pain medications in half. Now I am pain level 8 every day. My pain lever was 3 before the new rules went into effect taking 1/2 of all my pain medications away. I asked what dose the VA care anymore and was flat told ” Who Cares We Don’t , we just follow the rules and get paid anyway.”, I was given a wheelchair when a power-chair was requested by PMR Department Doctors but under the new medical reasoning I can’t get one because I don’t have loss of limb.

  9. Mike R    

    Chain of Command doesn’t work, I have been to both Patient advocates, but both gave me lip service saying they would help, and then they did nothing, I even have emails from the one patient advocate who had told me that they would go right up to pain management since I had accidently fell through the cracks, yet a month later she emailed me saying she had done nothing.
    NEVER ONCE has the Dayton VA offered any alternative care outside of the 3 yes 3 5/325 vicodin a day I have been on for 3 years, Now the new doctor I am assigned to says that is too much. Most days I can barely walk, fall at least once a day at home, and the VA has even issued me a wheelchair for when I have to go out for longer periods of time. I have been waiting for a spinal cord stimulator since I have failed EMG’s for 2 year now. Plus now I have an MRI showing that I have Severe spinal canal stenosis in my Cervical spine, and they have done nothing about it since they did the MRI in July. When the pain in my cervical spine got so bad I asked for help, the VA said only my contracted pain management can increase my pain meds. Then when my contracted pain management does give me an increase my VA doctor says the VA will NOT fill it.
    I am being forced to go back to outside medical help and borrowing money to cover my deductibles. I am a disabled vet since 1993, and now waiting for 3 years on a decision on an increase.

  10. Stan    

    As long as the government keeps giving out free money and awarding doctors to stop doing their job to alleviate pain nothing will change. The DEA and AMA are patting themselves on the back by cutting off all pain meds, and thinking of themselves as some kind of hero’s. All they are doing is closing their eyes to the suffering that they don’t have to address compliments of the government. I need medical procedures done, but will not because I will be made to suffer afterwards. The 24/7 pain I am dealing with is enough. When things get bad enough, I won’t go to a worthless uncaring VA doctor to be accused of lying, scheming and manipulating to get some relief. I will go to the liquor store or buy something from the street when available. At least they don’t look down on you for wanting some relief from the torture we have to endure from worsening physical pain through no fault of our own. Especially when there is no justification for accusing a person who has had no problem with abusing the medicine that has worked to give a person some quality of life. I have been made a cripple by all of the well-meaning political non-doctors and the ones getting paid to not do their job. If they expect a thank you, they can hold their breath waiting for it from me.

    1. liz    

      Stan, please call Wounded Warriors before doing anything drastic! They are a great group dealing with these same issues.
      If you must end your TORTURE, as they say “there is some dignity in ending the suffering” BUT, PLEASE PUT A BIG SIGN on you VA PLEASE HELP MY PAIN!! I am not a drug addict, but have been made to feel this way, SERVED-DENY-DISHONORED the VA Way.

  11. James Krakowski    

    Sounds like a bunch of whining addicts in the comments section.

    1. Linda Prichard    

      And You, Sir, sound like a big trouble-maker. Why don’t you go stir some crap elsewhere.

  12. Ron Fletcher    

    Well well well…. DISCUSTING! I HAVE 0 OPIOID ISSUES! MY (REDACTED) SANDWITCH your quacks have fead me for 9 months now is after 30 years of having ONLY ONE MED that helps me was wrongfully taken away ! Well I’ve lost my PAID FOR HOUSE, every thing I own, now I’m in a horrable And lingering death trap!
    24/7 agony, hope and pray I die SOON!
    YOUR ALL GOULS!

  13. Wynne lewis    

    I am not a veteran but I was married to a Vietnam pilot who got shot down. I’m writing to say I think all the foregoing comments – even those who feel they are ranting- I consider very legitimate & all of them have my admiration for what they’ve done concerning their opioid use. I hope the VA actually HEARS THEIR MESSAGES!

  14. Sharon Dee Moses    

    I am a service connected disabled veteran on opoides. I have chronic pain and need these meds on a low key basis. My VA doctors are taking me totally off all pain meds. Now saying I just have arthritis which is bogus. But the United States Government has all VA doctors scared of losing their jobs if any patient is on opiates so the vet that truly needs them suffers because of the power of the government threats and also the abusers of there’s

  15. Carrie Lynn Wells    

    I too have had nothing but problems with my primary care providers since receiving care from the Detroit VA beginning in February 2014 after being disabled from SSI. You see, I was injured by a chiropractor in 2008 who cracked my neck and tore my carotid arteries in two places, herniated three discs, etc. because I have a weakness in my carotids I need to be followed by a neurosurgeon every six months. It’s been 2 1/2 yrs and I just received first appt with neurosurgeon thru vets choice for nov. 8th. I was inpatient in May and July this year and was treated so poorly. And I worked in an ER for 6yrs so have some minor medical knowledge but when I made suggestions of things to try to try to improve my condition and quality of life, my 2nd Pcp in women’s clinic told me “well if you think you know everything then you don’t need me”. I have never felt so disrespected and invaluable. I left voicemails with the patient reps on the floors when I was inpatient and my nurse put in social worker consults for me yet no one ever came or called me. The care I’m receiving is still dispicable. I tore my right ACL in June of 2015 and just had my first physical therapy appt this week. I have always heard bad things about the VA but had no idea it was this bad. But I live on $1200/month SSI and can’t afford supplemental insurance so I have no choice. But I think the worst thing thus far was when I presented to the Detroit VA ER on Sunday of Labor Day weekend because I had tapered myself off of my high doses of both immediate release and extended release oxycodone so I could see if the physical therapy and acupuncture I had requested and had recently started receiving was helping….. I was having some very serious insomnia and stomach issues and wasn’t sure if may be slight withdrawal symptoms. And that dr basically told me that I was an idiot and needed to start taking my pain meds again or I was gonna end up in her ER every day with the (runs). I had an I.V. And just wanted to rip it out and walk out at that point. I thought it was a good thing that I’d tapered off my opioids so that I could exhaust all other options first such as physical therapy and acupuncture because none of that has been offered or tried. And they have me flagged in the system as a drug seeker. I have had Oxy IR in my purse since August 29th and have not taken it. That is not a drug seeker. I spoke to Paul the patient advocate yesterday and gave him a written formal complaint asking to see a hospital administrator. I guess now I just wait and see if my complaints are addressed. I have considered going to the problem solvers from the television news stations but have opted to attempt to follow the proper chain of command first. But if any of the hospital administrators see this, please please call me because I have served my country proudly and my voice deserves to be heard. And if anyone has any advice for me, I’d be so grateful to hear it.

  16. Ben D. Chlapek    

    The critical part missing in this article is those of us who live with debilitating pain. I suffered a moderate TBI on my last deployment and live with chronic pain. As physicians become more afraid to prescribe opioids (although my physicians stated there is ‘no VA policy that prohibits or discourages the prescribing of opioid pain relievers), it’s created a quality of life issue for me and thousands of other veterans, in my home and at work. Two days last week, I was unable to work due to pain at the level I was dizzy, nauseous, cool, clammy, and pale. I tried to “push through” it, but could not walk without falling due to increased pain. If this continues, I will lose another job and the ability to work, even behind a desk. The bottom line is the overblown “evils” of opioids that the media and others hype has an extremely detrimental effect on the quality of many, many lives and physical activity or exercise becomes so difficult that chronic pain patients can’t even walk and our health deteriorates to the point that we begin to question “is it worth it?” There has to be some avenue to get the legitimate pain patients some relief, and the synthetics and alternatives are just not doing it. I acknowledge that there is an element that abuses opioids that transcends socio-economic boundaries and leads to more abuse. I can now see why some who are desperate turn to illegal prescriptions, international purchasing, or heroin use to relieve the pain that is making life difficult to live. The only prescription or OTC med I’ve found to mitigate the pain is an opioid (Vicodin or hydrocodone) and physicians are running away from it because they are being questioned for prescribing it by the U.S. government, the pharmacies, and the VA. Please help those of us who live with debilitating pain.

  17. Robert    

    Yeah what are they going to do with vets who have been taking opioids for years?I went from 30 to 90 to 120 pills a month
    and now they dropped that down to 112 pills per month. As I get older and pain gets worse I find myself “short” of pills at the end of the month. Doctor will not prescribe more pills to take or will not up the dosage.Now on top of my failed discetomy which got me medically boarded I have arthritis in that area.
    Sorry for the rant.

  18. Mike R    

    There is a difference between opioid abuse and pain relief. But now my VA treats any patient on pain management as some sort of Villain, even to the extent that my VA doctor told me he would not allow the VA to fill a Pain management script for pain medicine FOR SURGERY, that the small amount I take daily would cover added surgery, and that if I did anything at all to violate that he would cancel my pain management and the spinal cord stimulator that I have been waiting 2 years for. To me that is just pure blackmail. So I had to postpone my surgery as I am not mentally, emotionally or physically ready to deal with surgery pain without pain management, and I have been fighting for 2 years to finally get this done. I threw out the rest of my pain meds and now I can barely function at all, pain keeps me bedridden most of the time. Even the contracted Pain management Doctor said I was not taking that much and he would get me weaned off as soon as surgery was done. The VA says the pain management contract is in control, till they decide differently then they take control.

  19. Tracy wedell    

    I am a chronic pain patient with a TBI. I have been on low-dose opioids for almost 30 years. Prior to the suspension of compassion and pain relief, I had attended numerous pain classes, aggressively searched for treatment, utilized acupuncture, physical therapy, massage therapy, swim therapy, meditation, yoga, MOVE program, change in type of work, reduction of hours, in-home physical therapist/personal trainer, chiropractic, braces, tens unit, hospital-style bed, walker, mindfulness techniques, classes to reduce anxiety and depression, and I’m sure there were a few others that I have forgotten. Thus when the call to cut opioids came, my doctor cut me off with no alternative treatment to alleviate my pain. Like so many of my fellow veterans, I am no longer able to work, my quality of life is declining, and my options are as follows: buy street drugs, like heroin, (I couldn’t find or afford them anyhow), hope medicinal marijuana is strong enough and affordable, or do nothing and pray I don’t give in to suicide as quality of life diminishes. We are patients, not addicts!

  20. William Fish    

    i am but one of the tens of thousands of vets who have been refused any further Rx of Percodan.
    (the SUCCESSFUL Rx i have been on for 7 years)
    my VA doctor informs me SHE HAS NO CHOICE. (she had tears in her eyes!)
    this is due, she says, to an edict by the CDC in Atlanta.
    the CDC is the “Center for Disease Control”.
    no one has been able to explain to me what a “Disease Control” agency has any business making rules or laws regarding pain medication other than the actual fact that: absolute power corrupts. absolutely.
    they’re power hungry and inserting themselves into an area they have no business engaging in.
    .
    my doctor says the CDC is saying they are going to reduce the amounts of suicide by vets (and everybody else) who have used ‘suicide’ as the reason for their action.
    WHAT?????
    i know of at least 5 major ways people commit suicide other than pain meds!
    (gun, drowning, hanging, asphyxiation, cutting your wrists, topping the list.)
    .
    PLEASE !!! WILL SOMEONE ‘TRACK’ THE AMOUNT OF SUICIDES THAT WILL OCCUR BY VETS WHO’S ONLY REASON TO SUICIDE IS THEY HAVE BEEN DISALLOWED BY THE CDC TO TAKE THE PILLS THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY WORKED FOR YEARS TO REDUCE THEIR DOCUMENTED PAIN RELIEF !!!
    .
    there is not a single doubt in my military mind that suicides are going to PEAK in the coming years !!!!!
    .
    who do i go to?
    who do i write?
    apparently – who even gives a (redacted) ?
    they look at me like i am some kind of drug addict !
    I AM NOT ADDICTED TO PERCODAN – I AM ADDICTED TO ‘NOT BEING IN PAIN’ !!!!
    (if i wasn’t ‘addicted to not being in pain’ i would be a masochist.)
    .
    i went to this article from a prompt on ‘Aviation Week & Space Technology and that is why i am writing you.
    is there anyone actually There?
    what can i do? if anything.
    .
    thank you.
    William S Fish Jr.
    Sgt E-6 12th special forces group (airborne)
    retired.

    1. liz    

      Craig, thank you for sharing. I thought I was alone in this madness !! I have several Medical Issues that were adequately treated for almost a decade on the lowest possible Opioid. And I got the same response you did about if I overdosed “like the Celebrities” they (DEA??) would go looking for my doctor. I’ve never been Suicidal!!
      This sounds like a script out of a Hollywood Movie. I saw my Doctor, who only sees me every 6 months-and when you read my medical chart, it states she looked in my ears, nose and throat-checked for lymph nodes, checked for circulation in my feet….NONE OF THIS HAPPENED!
      I fell on my chest, tried to get an appointment with my Dr. she was too busy, but she would call me. I was seen 6 times within 8 months for this pain, told to take an Uber taxi to 40 mile trip to Palo Alto Emergency for any pain medication. I finally required surgery, thank God, it was through Veteran’s Choice.
      I have lost 20 lbs. too, at my last visit with Primary Care Doctor, she was more concerned with discussing how VA Secretary Bob McDonald has now said NO OPIOIDS FOR VETS, when I asked her does he want Vets to go to the streets for their pain control, use Synthetic Opioids or worse Heroin, her answer “I didn’t prescribe it” but THEY ALL ASSISTED IN THEIR SUICIDES.
      I presented the most recent study from Dr. Sean Mackey (5/17/16) Chief of STANFORD PAIN MANAGEMENT CENTER “Do Opioids make a difference in patients with Chronic Pain. They evaluated Chronic Low Back Pain and the answer was YES.
      My doctor said they are VA not Stanford.
      Yet, top Administrative Staff at VA Palo Alto: SR Assoc. Dean for Veterans Affairs, also associated with Stanford University School of Medicine;
      THOMAS FITZGERALD III, INTERIM DIRECTOR AT PALO ALTO Affliated with Stanford School of Medicine.
      We are not drug addicts, we are human beings and should not have to endure this discrimination.

  21. Craig Nystrom    

    As one of my VA primary care doctors said to me that if I overdose on opioid medications that I have been on for two bouts of stomach cancer and other service connected issues, that the police are going to come and not talk to me she said? They are going to come and throw her in jail, she will lose her license, lose her career, her job, her freedom, she is not going to allow this to happen to her! So she is weaning me and all of her other patients off of this medication, period! So when she did so, and since I am 6’4″ and my weight which was 130lbs dropped to 118lbs in five days, yes that is right 6’4″, and I got so ill, vomiting, nausea, chills, fever, dehydration, pain, and body aches beyond words. That after the VA Patient Advocate Supervisor himself could not reach her nor her nurse after three days of him trying? Only then when her department head heard about what was going on, and had to issue prescriptions of the very same opioid pain relievers because his doctor that he is in charge of had screwed up, and they tried to hide and cover up my doctors actions, then the following week after this happening was when our home phone rang non-stop from having this nurse and doctor calling our home because “We are calling to check on you?” “We are concerned as we heard that you were ill from withdrawals, please we need to hear from you, call us!” Only then did I even matter to this doctor and her nurse? Then the doctor was not even bright enough to cover her own tracks? In the office visit notes, she wrote as I had said in the beginning that I was in pain! That I needed her to help control and minimalize this pain! That this patient presented himself in obvious pain! So she writes all of this in the office visit notes and then later one she states clearly as I said as she was lying and trying to cover her tracks that the patient requested that he be removed from all prescribed pain relievers? So I am in pain demanding that she help me, but then I am also requesting as if it is my idea to be removed from all opioid pain relievers? If you are going to lie and falsify medical records at least try and make it convincing? But see this is at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, the same place that for over eight years that I was seen by a different primary care doctor every 2 to 4 months and this doctor never once and I do mean never once ever conducted a physical examination on me? Ever?!! My wife and I complained to everyone and anyone that would listen there? We begged to have them put in a camera? We begged to have an employee accompany me in with him and my wife and we’d say it was my brother or a sister? Nope, we were looked at as if we were liars? Then finally when we demanded that they switch my doctor and we were interviewed by a social worker who said it was her job to take these complaints, that “Off the record” There have been many more complaints about the very same reason with this doctor over the years that I have spoken to patients about this doctor. So they have known about this doctor doing the very same thing for years and then they do nothing?

    1. Megan Moloney    

      Sir, we have reached out to one of our customer relations teams with your comment for follow up.

      1. jrnfla    

        Craig, if, and that is a big if, your doctor had any performance criteria, it was probably so esoteric and vague that they were meaningless. So, your doctor is making a good six figure salary with little to no oversight which results in him going through the motions of being a doctor. If they were really good, most of the doctors could make quite a bit more money working in a civilian practice which says a lot about the standard of “care” we receive at the VA.

  22. william r morley    

    Tylenol and n saids not snakes should read…auto fill…sorry

    1. jrnfla    

      It is a bit difficult to follow your thoughts but, in general, it does seem that it is always the patient, veteran or civilian that ends up suffering and dealing with the consequences of such action. I do not usually blame the doctors because they are concerned about losing their license or some other form of punishment for prescribing adequate pain meds to give us a decent quality of life. However, I have had the displeasure of seeing a few doctors that have an unreal “god complex!” They believe they are infallible and how dare a patient question the doctor or want a better explanation. It is also becoming very difficult to find a good pain management doctor as so many are getting out of the field because of the draconian rules and punishments. Good luck!

  23. william r morley    

    This extremely disrespectful attack on veterans suffering is the fault of the doctors and their headless leaders. Tell the American legion to change their flower. No respect and blaming victims making them worse. There’s a thousand ways technically and otherwise to make sure if someone needs safe pain relief unlike government ts own warnings about Tylenol and snakes, opioids much much safer provided they are not laced with the highly toxic Tylenol always protected in media due to money never mention by these brainwave that Tylenol is a really really big reason opioids allegedly so dangerous so it’s a ploy to control people to deny them dignity and quality of life after service g their country and wearing those for awfully sinful poppy. Heroin twice as strong as morphine…Suboxone 15 times stronger but this their solution often….to problems they created. If you say to v.a. or any doctor right now as they are so on offense to hurt as angry cannabis has made their lies to co e to full fruition and their demise of power and monopoly over people’s minds lives and bodies….if you say to that doctor I will come here everyday and take the pill right in front of someone they still not Happy……the Nazis many of these suffering vets fought and rid the world of….have had much of their agenda of cleansing the weak and blaming victims they make….come back to be fought again….but again you Nazis doctors will lose ….don’t tell people cannabis safe effective boosts natural opioids is non addictive and cures cancers….nope be really irresponsible liars to veterans who made your country. Safe and free…they thought you would return the favor….you are not. You are evil to follow such lies…..ya you guys sure care….great job.. embarrassing disrespectful inhumane

    1. Liz    

      I totally agree with you!! We Veterans are not Drug Addicts, as the VAHC has made us feel. We paid the price dearly, Serving and now suffer “Real Pain” that up until 2014 was being handled respectfully as Patient’s in Pain.

      How do we get Media Coverage to express this dirty Plan that will send so many Veterans to the streets, and probably DIE from horrible non FDA pain drugs or worse. VAs stance is “We didn’t write the prescription”

      They claim 30% reduction in pain medication prescriptions, all you need do is read this one thread.
      The REAL TRUTH is 99%.

      And what will they do with all the money they have saved? Well of course BONUSES!!

  24. Michael DeGraw    

    It’s not the vets that have severe injuries and real pain and not drug addicts, it’s the civilians out there the abuse right along with the crooked doctors from Doctor hunting, VETS DESERVE PAIN RELIEF

    1. burl etue    

      I agree whole heartedly! After 10 years of a regimented pain management, the VA cut me down, over a couple years, to the minimum I thought I could bear……..last appointment, boom, cut off. What the….?

    2. jrnfla    

      It is a shame that the government is so short sighted that their efforts are always focused on the symptoms and the care givers rather than the root cause of the problem. I am a 100% disabled veteran because of numerous injuries to my back as well as putting too much strain on it because of mission requirements. Yes, I use opioids to help manage my pain. Do the opioids eliminate my pain? No. Because the doctors are very concerned with the draconian and Gestapo-esque oversight, they will not give me enough pain meds so I can have a life. I gave up on the VA for pain management because the medical staff is focused on the rules rather than the patients. Thankfully, I obtained Social Security disability so I have Medicare Parts A and B and I can use the base pharmacy to fill my prescriptions – if they stock the prescribed drugs. I am not a doper but the studies I’ve read indicate that medical marijuana is a viable alternative to the opioids but our government refuses to allow pain patients access to it. However, the federal government owns 5 patients on the medical use of marijuana including the DEA that owns a medical marijuana patent for managing patient pain and symptoms for several medical issues. As long as the big pharmaceutical industry maintains its special interest hold on our elected representatives in the House and Senate, along with several other industry special interest lobbies. Also, the medical MJ is supposed to be formulated so that it does NOT produce a high or euphoria.

    3. jrnfla    

      I wish there was a way to make these buffoons spend just one day dealing with the debilitating pain many of us face every day. Having your pain meds taken away is barbaric and I would not wish that on anyone. I had a “god doctor” cut my pain medicine in half and when I asked him why he was cutting it in half, his response was “you have been on pain medicine too long!” No consultating with me, no discussion of his decision, or anything else. I had a spinal cord stimulator (SCS) for over a year but it kept failing – 3 times – which required surgery to exchange each time so I finally had it removed as it did not help much anyway. If you are completely disabled, I strongly urge you to apply for social security disability. You will have a much better chance of approval if you use one of the groups or people that help prepare those requests. BTW, expect your first application to be denied as that seems to be their routine initial response. Once you have social security disability, you have Medicare Part A – covers a significant portion of your hospital stay bills and Part B – which covers a significant part of doctor bills, especially if you use a doctor in the Medicare network.Good luck to all! Semper fi!

    4. Cpt.liz    

      This is supposed the link to send “Our Concerns” at least that was what I noted on the C-Span broadcast: NO OPIATES FOR VETERANS.

      Idea was, each individual will be evaluated on case by case requirement. Send in our complaints, go to Had it.com and go to Paiin Medication Forum and see if anyone even gets a reply.

      Maybe 60 minutes might be interested, but who cares about a bunch of TaxBurdens. Thats what the world thinks of us now. I gave 9 years of my life as an officer and am crippled now, HONOR-DENY-DISHONOR, the VA Way!

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