Sunday, December 3, 2017

Did The Cure For Pain Kill Iraq Veteran?

He survived the Iraq War, then lost an ugly battle against opioid addiction

Buffalo News
Lou Michel
December 3, 2017

“Don could walk, but he could not walk well. He was in pain...He was given a shot in the spine to block the pain. I think the shot gave him some relief but he should never have had to go back to Iraq.”

Capt. Donald Peterson, of the 98th Division of the Army Reserve, hugs his daughter Christina, 4, before heading off to Iraq in 2004. (Harry Scull Jr./News file photo)
The war was just beginning for Donald Peterson when he returned home from Iraq in 2005.
A traumatic brain injury, herniated discs and post-traumatic stress he suffered in battlegrounds overseas were his new enemies.
Opioids became his crutch.
As Peterson slipped into addiction and other medical problems arose, his wife and two daughters became fearful of the Army Reserve major. They moved out of their Amherst home for their own safety.
Then the 52-year-old combat veteran died alone last March in the Klein Road house he had remodeled for them.
His death certificate listed heart disease complicated by diabetes as the cause of death. His wife believes he might still be alive if he hadn’t become addicted to opioids, an addiction that started in the military. She blames Army doctors, veterans affairs physicians and a local pain specialist.
“When Don was at Walter Reed Medical Center, he told me they handed out the pain pills like Chiclets. He said he had become dependent on them,” Rosemarie Peterson said.
While much attention has been given to young people becoming addicted to opioids in recent years, little heed has been paid to the many military veterans showing up as addicts.
Between 2001 and 2009, military physicians wrote nearly 4 million prescriptions for painkillers to treat combat injuries and strains from the wear and tear of multiple deployments, according to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs often ends up treating these veterans when they leave active duty, and the numbers show opioid addiction remains a formidable challenge:
• Some 68,000 veterans are being treated for “opioid use disorder” by the VA. 
• About one of every 10 soldiers who returns from Afghanistan and Iraq experiences problems with alcohol and other drugs. 
• Nearly one out of three veterans who seeks treatment for substance use disorder suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
read more here 

If you are having a hard time understanding what this pain is like, I am going through having shots into my spine right now. Back in April, I had the first round of needles being stuck into my spine.

While MRI and X-ray films show proof of the damage to my body, there are no machines to figure out what living with pain is like.

I take one pill in the morning so I can go to work, but my body has pretty much had it. I can't stand or sit for a long time. Laying down helps if I can stretch out. Not many jobs you can do in that position.

When you're in pain, you do whatever you can to make it stop. If your doctor tells you to take this pain med, you take it and hope it makes things better. You don't fear it will make it worse.

Same thing with PTSD. That is a type of pain you can't see but you can see the physical changes to your brain with a special scan. Still, when you have that pain, you just want to make it go away.

Days are a constant battle and nights are even worse. I do not know what it is like to have PTSD but I do know what it does, what surviving trauma did and I've seen what it is like when they start to heal.

As for this Major, the pain he must have been in should have kept him out of being deployed but not keeping him out of living the rest of his life with his family.

Back to the story, pay close attention to this part,

“In the period from 2001 to 2009, they issued 3.8 million prescriptions for pain reliving medications to the troops in the combat zone,” he said. “When these troops return home, the Department of Defense conducts random drug tests and some of those individuals were given other than honorable or dishonorable discharges."
If I am having such a hard time doing a desk job, think about the kind of pain they are risking their lives with while serving this nation. Is this justice for any of them?

Add in one more personal story that may make this easier to understand. I was so upset attending veterans events when news crews would show up, but veterans never saw the video on TV, that I went to College to figure out how to do the same thing for the veterans. I spent over $22,000 getting certifications in Digital Media. I have over 200 videos on Youtube. Since last year, I hardly ever go to the events because my body cannot take standing for long periods of time or walking too far. Going to the events was like fuel to my passion for veterans. 

I can't do it anymore even though I really want to and it is like torture for me.

They invest months of training, and then more training. They endure hardships none of us will ever understand because not doing what they are pulled to do, not doing it with those they are willing to die for, would be a type of torture for them. To be tossed out of the military because that service did something to their body-mind-spirit, is despicable.