“VA testing drugs on war veterans” – The Washington Times and ABC News

These things are like a bug on the kitchen counter.  Easily squished, but telling us something about the larger picture.

This is another in a series of similar stories, like the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  Correcting another specific problem is nice but not sufficient.  There is a larger problem in the system.  These repeated incidents reveal the values of the people in the senior echelons at DoD, and that must be changed.  Or we will continue to read stories like this, again and again.

VA testing drugs on war veterans“, The Washington Times (17 June 2008) — “Experiments raise ethical questions”  — Excerpt:

The government is testing drugs with severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior on hundreds of military veterans, using small cash payments to attract patients into medical experiments that often target distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, a Washington Times/ABC News investigation has found.

In one such experiment involving the controversial anti-smoking drug Chantix, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) took three months to alert its patients about severe mental side effects. The warning did not arrive until after one of the veterans taking the drug had suffered a psychotic episode that ended in a near lethal confrontation with police.

Disposable Heroes’: Veterans Used To Test Suicide-Linked Drugs“, ABC News (17 June 2008) — “An ABC News and Washington Times Investigation Reveals Vets Are Being Recruited for Government Tests on Drugs with Violent Side Effects” The report will air on Good Morning America. This article has more details than the Washington Times article. — Excerpt:

“Lab rat, guinea pig, disposable hero,” said former US Army sniper James Elliott in describing how he felt he was betrayed by the Veterans Administration. {details of his story follow}

For more information about this

See the website for the story, providing documents and testimony to support these articles.

Letter from Senator Obama to James Peake, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Letter from Senator John Cornyn, Texas Republican, to Secretary Peake.

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3 thoughts on ““VA testing drugs on war veterans” – The Washington Times and ABC News

  1. Congressional action to order an investigation is possible right? Perhaps a Cornyn-Obama bill appointing a permanent oversight committee of distinguished veterans care experts that report to Congress & the President quarterly is in order?

    Vets ourselves could parley Web 2.0 apps into a watchdog agency of our own that uses regular reporting tools from vets across the country to keep track of what the VA is up to and the standard of care its providing. I suggested this after Walter Reed for the active duty side of the house but in really its more urgent for the VA.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: These things are like a bug on the kitchen counter. Easily squished, but tell us something about the larger picture.

    Like the many stories earlier in the war about inadequate medical care for people in the armed services, this tells us about the values of the senior people in DoD. Correcting this specific problem is nice — just as the earlier problem at Walter Reed Army Medical Center — is not sufficient. By now it should be obvious that there is a larger problem in the system.

  2. FYI, the VA is not just experimenting on vets who volunteer for it or just on the latest batch of vets. I served 1980 – 1993. Not that long ago, while away from my home state, I reinjured a knee originally injured during my service and went to the VA in Chicago. I was prescribed medication to “handle it” until I returned to my home VA. Upon my return my now non emergency scheduled appointment was so far down the road that I went in to refill my prescription. The folks in AZ nonchlalantly asked me to fill out a questionaire; and, as they were informing me the drug was unavailable and not in their system I clearly saw the computer screen with the drug listed and the heading experimental. When I protested I was asked to return any unused portion and to fill out the questionaire. I was informed that it was merely a combination of two approved drugs and not to be concerned.
    They were so thoughtful I was given an appointment immediately and surgery was scheduled post haste.

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