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.


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Comments

Disgraceful. Why should a soldier follow his obligations under the Oath if our obligations to him are being violated in this way?

ConstantineXI on June 4, 2015 at 12:43 PM

We drugged some folks.

Mr. Wednesday Night on June 4, 2015 at 12:45 PM

Why didn’t the VA offer Cranmer surgery?

Because government bureaucrats do not care.

rbj on June 4, 2015 at 12:48 PM

How is this any different than what Obamacare plans to do?

Mark Boabaca on June 4, 2015 at 12:48 PM

Yet, everyone on Welfare gets better service. It burns me up.

Oil Can on June 4, 2015 at 12:52 PM

Was the pain from an actual injury to a disc in which surgery would help, or some other cause?

otlset on June 4, 2015 at 12:52 PM

How is this any different than what Obamacare plans to do?

Mark Boabaca on June 4, 2015 at 12:48 PM

It has nothing to do with Obamacare or any coverage you have.
It has to do with the new laws that herded people into pain management.

bazil9 on June 4, 2015 at 12:54 PM

rbj on June 4, 2015 at 12:48 PM

They get bonuses for ______?

That’s what they care about.

dogsoldier on June 4, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Dr. Maureen McCarthy needs to hang by the neck until dead, as does everyone who perpetrated these vile crimes, as does anyone with knowledge of them. If misprescription of drugs on this level isn’t a capital offense, it ought to be.

Fenris on June 4, 2015 at 12:55 PM

Oil Can on June 4, 2015 at 12:52 PM

Illegals with ObamaCare get better treatment.

dogsoldier on June 4, 2015 at 12:56 PM

Sounds like they take a notes from Obama…
Didn’t he tell that one woman they would just give her mom pills and let her die rather than give surgery?

MityMaxx on June 4, 2015 at 12:56 PM

and those of us with legitimate needs (3 tears in discs that cannot be repaired as well as both knee joints being ground down by kneecaps) for hydr0c0done based dr*gs have to sign contracts and get treated like a dr*g dealer now.
VA even treating tramad0l (Ultr*m) like a schedule 1 with no refills

jeez had to edit legitimate names to pass filters.
WTF

dmacleo on June 4, 2015 at 12:58 PM

As a veteran and former Service Officer with a Veteran Service Organization, I have been saying for years that VA over medicates.

Gothguy on June 4, 2015 at 12:59 PM

dmacleo on June 4, 2015 at 12:58 PM

You’re right.

bazil9 on June 4, 2015 at 12:59 PM

It has to do with the new laws that herded people into pain management.

bazil9 on June 4, 2015 at 12:54 PM

Pain management will be the only solution for people on Obamacare, and ultimately, single payer DeathCare.

“Here, take this pill and don’t call me in the morning.”

Mark Boabaca on June 4, 2015 at 1:01 PM

Simply put, the VA treats symptoms. Not the underlying causes of those symptoms.

Mitoch55 on June 4, 2015 at 1:06 PM

jeez had to edit legitimate names to pass filters.
WTF

dmacleo on June 4, 2015 at 12:58 PM

Sorry for that, but we get tons of trackback spam from sites selling bogus versions of name-brand drugs. When we see legit comments in moderation we approve them, but sometimes it takes us a while to circle back.

Ed Morrissey on June 4, 2015 at 1:07 PM

Ed Morrissey on June 4, 2015 at 1:07 PM

ahh, I had forgotten about WP trackbacks

dmacleo on June 4, 2015 at 1:13 PM

Mark Boabaca on June 4, 2015 at 1:01 PM

I understand what you’re getting at.

I am speaking about the laws that passed requiring anyone on maintenance pain meds being forced to go to pain management or they get nothing.
This started because of the pill mills. Florida was 1st and passed the strictest most insane law a few years back.
I endured it myself. These docs are over medicating(if u even see a DR and not a PA) and they did not help me or give a damn about solution’s just pushing more narcotics. I am fairly young, the waiting room would be filled with the elderly. Like dmacleo said, you are treating like an addict and like shit. I changed Dr’s several times and finally found one that gave a damn and a solution. I was told to get on S.u.b.oxin to get off the meds..but that is just another narcotic with plenty of trouble.
So, I summons up the courage to cut it off cold turkey. Detox for 5 days was like a walk in hell..but I did it.

So, I am sure the VA is the same way.

The entire thing is Phucked up.

bazil9 on June 4, 2015 at 1:13 PM

Clearly, this was caused by a lack of funding.

/sarc

gwelf on June 4, 2015 at 1:18 PM

The FDNY did the same thing after 9/11.

IXXINY on June 4, 2015 at 1:24 PM

Let me echo what some have said before me.. Narcotics are prescribed for whatever reason be it for chronic pain or instead of surgery. Tens of thousands of people rely on these drugs to function. They are not addicts but people with legitimate pain and in need of narcotics to live a normal life. It’s easy to call them addicts. That’s also what the government now believes.. Last summer when the new DEA rules took effect, the ability to get narcotics suddenly.. And I mean suddenly became very hard. The inability to get refills mean that people with chronic pain must now go see their doctors monthly as prescriptions are limited to 30 days. Think about what you would do if you relay on heavy narcotics to function but you live 500+ miles away from your Va doctor. So you do feel like an addict. I summary, I’m sure there are cases where doctors over prescribed narcotics instead of treating the injury. But my belief is the vast majority of people have chronic pain issues that cannot be fixed with surgery. Now the new DEA rules makes them feel like addicts just for seeking drugs that abate the pain. And now the bureaucracy to get a 30 day supply is out of control. You don’t understand unless you have been there. I can see why suicides are increasing.

willytvirgin on June 4, 2015 at 5:19 PM

Just another example of our huge government grown too huge.

We must shrink Fed power or we are finished as a free nation.

What about those four million Fed workers whose data was hacked?

Four million??

Why in the hell do we need four million Feds???

Sherman1864 on June 5, 2015 at 6:05 AM