Reloading! In my last blog post, I ranted a little (OK, a lot) about the VA pushing pills on Veterans at Veteran Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs). On 26 March, Sen. Johnny Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, called on the VA to end the "all too common practice" of over prescribing opioid drugs throughout the VA healthcare system. In the midst of the "Candy Land" investigation at the Tomah, WI VAMC, I salute Sen. Isakson for calling on the VA to end their practice of "over prescribing" meds that are prevalent in the VA healthcare system. Indeed, today (30 March), Congressional hearings are being held in Tomah about the serious problems found at that VAMC. If any of those senators and house representatives are reading my blog, I just want them to know they are at the very tip of the painkiller iceberg. But, don't worry. It's a very big plateau at the top of VA opioid iceberg, because you could go to just about ANY VAMC and probably find the same over prescription of opioid drugs to Veterans. As I said in Report from the LP/OP, the VA mainly treats just about anything with pills. In a world where alternative therapies is growing by leaps and bounds, the VA is holding on strong to the "a pill a day" approach in medicine. Actually, probably more like 10-20 pills a day. A report estimates 50percent of VA patients who suffer from chronic pain abuse painkillers. And the problem is worse when you consider most Vets have private doctors too.
In the age of Obamacare, it is more than likely a Veteran could be treated for Military related illnesses or wounds, while also seeing a private or family doctor as well. According to a news story by the Connecticut Mirror, the VA doesn't share their prescription records with individual states. Not only that, but they don't share their records with family doctors. This gets into the huge problem of interactions between medications that can prove deadly. At a hearing by the Senate VA Committee John Daigh, a representative of the VA's office of Inspector General, testified the VA wasn't following its own policies and procedures in several areas, including evaluations of patients with take home opioids. "Not following their own policies and procedures." Where have we heard that before? Hmm. Well, just about any-freaking-where in the Obama administration, but definitely we have heard that before in regards to the VA scandal of 2014! And, just like I did in my last post, I will again remind my dear readers that the VA scandal is not over!!!! This "candy Land" investigation is just another facet of the VA scandal. The benefits and compensation problems should rear their head again soon, just like they came to light almost a year ago, shortly after the wait time scandal broke national news from the Phoenix VAMC.
It is all the same VA Scandal. A scandal that began in the 1960's and 1970's when an influx of Vietnam Veterans caused the VA to go on life support. But no one noticed that the plug was already pulled on that life support system. That's because that life support was money. Federal tax dollars that no one ever thought about when the draft was going on. Those same tax dollars weren't thought of during any war since Vietnam. Sure, you can allocate money for the Department of Defense. But the congress and the president never think long term. They will pass and sign a bill to ramp up production of weapons. But, they don't pass a bill to fund the VA for all of the soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen and coat guardsmen that they are sending into harm's way. And I'm not just talking about funding for the VA healthcare system, but for the benefits and compensation as well. Every aspect of the Department of Veteran Affairs is in disarray. It hasn't happened overnight and it won't get fixed tomorrow. We need to start fixing it. We The People need to start telling our elected politicians that they need to vote to fix the VA. Like, really fix it, not just a band aid on a gushing puncture wound. We need to delve into alternative "pill free" medicine and alternative therapies. We need to look at the benefit and compensation issues and start down a fiscal path that will help alleviate those problems. We need to modernize the VAMCs themselves and do it "within budget". We need to modernize the 1980s computer systems in the entire VA and make them compatible with other federal agencies (like the DoD for one).
Trust me, I am all for the "boots on the ground" approach (I am Infantry remember) and I believe we have to lead from the front, but, before we send another kid down range to protect the freedoms we all hold dear, we need to make sure we will be able to take care of them when they are a Veteran of the United States of America.
Dealing with PTSD...for kids. Veterans deal with PTSD in various ways. For the most part, other adults know kinda sorta what PTSD is. Partially, why I write this blog is to promote awareness of PTSD. But how do children deal with a father or mother that has PTSD? Do they even know why a parent is acting differently? That problem faces a lot of Veteran families.
Seth Kastle knows all about this dilemma. He is a Veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. A retired First Sergeant, Kastle has two children. And, he's struggled with PTSD for 10 years. Describing PTSD as "not nice. not pretty," especially for children, Seth wrote a book to let his children know that he loves them no matter what he has gone through in the Global War on Terror.. "Why is Dad so mad?" is a book written for children who have a parent with PTSD.
"I wrote this book so I could explain it to my kids," Kastle said, "I want them to know its not their fault."
Another book Kastle has penned, titled "Why is Mom so mad?" should be out in early July. A book that Seth consulted with Veteran moms while writing. "Why is Dad so mad?" is available on Amazon.
That is all.
Remember this Tuesday and every Tuesday is Telephone A Veteran Tuesday A phone call can make all the difference sometimes. Also check out the latest blogs from A Vet With PTSD.