Video: VA official admits that system overprescribes drugs, hooks vets
posted at 12:41 pm on June 4, 2015 by Ed Morrissey
One pill makes you larger, one pill makes you small — and the ones that Mother gives you don’t do anything at all. People who see the latest video from Project Veritas can be forgiven for feeling as though they’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. James O’Keefe and his team have turned their attention to the Veterans Administration and the abysmal suicide rate among American veterans to tell a heartbreaking tale of one Marine’s death and desperation. Instead of offering surgery to fix his back pain, the VA kept feeding Corporal David Cranmer pain pills, hooking him on Oxycontin — and then diagnosing him with PTSD so they could continue throwing pills at him rather than address the underlying medical problem. Cranmer hung himself one month later (via Jeff Dunetz):
Award-winning journalist and New York Times’ best-selling author James O’Keefe released a troubling and powerful new video today showing various VA employees, contractors and volunteers discussing the pill pushing culture of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the adverse affects it is having on our nation’s veterans. Dr. Maureen McCarthy, the Deputy Chief of Patient Services for the entire VA, was caught on hidden camera telling a Project Veritas investigative journalist that: “It’s people that have drug problems, some of which are caused by us and our prescribing.” In discussing the various cocktails of drugs given out by the VA, McCarthy stated: “That combination in particular is like candy for some people. It’s like they want it, they want it, they want it.”
Sadly, on average, twenty-two U.S. veterans take their own lives each day. The VA appears to be a bit too eager to simply write prescription after prescription and move on to the next patient, rather than actually getting to the root of the problem many soldiers with P.T.S.D. face. Georgeann Davis, a senior VA volunteer based in Buffalo, NY, told a Project Veritas investigative journalist that: “In my opinion, they are creating drug addicts.”
Disc injuries can cause an incredible amount of pain, as I know from personal experience. I have had two surgeries for two separate disc injuries, one of which was briefly disabling. Surgery isn’t usually the first option for dealing with the problem; doctors prefer to start with steroids, painkillers, and traction therapy first. However, pain that requires powerful drugs like Oxycontin for more than just an acute period is a good indicator that surgery is needed, especially since those pain medications are highly addictive when taken for any length of time.
Why didn’t the VA offer Cranmer surgery? His father wonders the same thing, having watched his son struggle with the issue for years. Based on the conversations with VA officials and employees in this video, Cranmer was hardly alone in this issue. Rather than spend money to address the actual problems, it’s easier and cheaper for the VA to throw pills at veterans and get them out of the office.
This isn’t the only issue driving veteran suicide, of course, and some conditions are better treated with medication than surgery. As the video shows, though, this kind of care is bad enough even without the suicide issue, and Congress needs to take a very hard look at the entire structure of the VA. This shows once again what happens when we lock people into single-payer systems with no options for competitive care. It’s also an example of bitter irony that the government fighting the War On Drugs are taking our actual warriors and turning them into addicts rather than giving them the care they deserve. Shame on us.