Helping Our Heroes....It’s What We Do
We take great pride in serving those who have served us! When our veterans signed up to serve us, we promised to care for them and their families in the event that they were injured or wounded. Operation Grow4Vets believes that it is important to honor this promise! Operation Grow4Vets serves veterans who sustained a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound during their military service. We also provide assistance to the families of veterans.
It is an unfortunate fact that many of the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our way of life suffer so much physical and emotional pain. They number in the hundreds of thousands.
Over the years battlefield medicine has advanced at a truly incredible pace. In addition, advances in body armor, as well as in vehicle armament have resulted in an unprecedented number of service members surviving severe wounds or injuries. For every American soldier killed in World War I and World War II, there were 1.7 soldiers wounded. In Vietnam, there were 2.6 soldiers wounded for every one killed. Current statistics for Iraq and Afghanistan show that for every American soldier killed, 7 are wounded.
In addition to the more than 49,000 U.S. servicemen and women who have been physically injured in recent military conflicts, it is estimated that more than 400,000 service members are currently struggling with the invisible wounds of war including debilitating depression, combat-related stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI). An additional 325,000 are estimated to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while serving in combat.
The VA has made great strides in its overall care of veterans in the last few years. But there still are major hurdles for the VA to clear, especially with regard to the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain, PTSD and TBI. In addition, the VA has a backlog of disability claims numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Over 9.2 million Americans served in Vietnam between 1964 and 1975. A large number of these veterans are receiving care for wounds, injuries, or illness. Statistics indicate that an astonishing 31% of Vietnam veterans are living with PTSD.
Approximately 10,000 more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans currently pour into VA medical facilities each month. Countless veterans suffer from debilitating chronic pain. Upward of 20% of these veterans suffer from PTSD. Some 40% of post-9/11 veterans diagnosed with PTSD are still not receiving the benefits that they are entitled to. Overall, suicides now outnumber combat fatalities by a ratio of more than 25-to-1.
When a veteran is dealing with pain or a debilitating injury, his or her family shares the burden. We believe that our veterans have earned the right to receive the most effective medical treatment available. Treatment that allows them to function as loving fathers and mothers. Treatment that affords them quality educational and career opportunities. Treatment that gives them a shot at being productive members of society.
The Operation Grow4Vets team of staff and volunteers are dedicated to doing all that we can for these men and women who have scarified so much for us. Without their sacrifice, we would not enjoy the peace and prosperity at home that we often times take for granted.
KILLING OUR HEROES WITH DANGEROUS DRUGS
As is too often the case in civilian medical care, the easiest answer for treating pain and emotional and mental conditions is pharmaceuticals. Most of these prescription medications are debilitating and many are extremely dangerous, highly-addictive narcotics. Far too many veterans feel that current treatment regimes are designed to keep them in a drug induced stupor for the rest of their lives.
In a special report aired on Fox News in June 2013, reporter Douglas Kennedy interviewed a 30-year-old veteran who the VA sent to thirteen different psychiatrists. They prescribed twenty-five different drugs which caused numerous other health problems for the veteran. His own doctor later called the combination of these drugs a “cocktail of poison.” This veteran is now resigned to the fact that he will be addicted to many of these drugs for the remainder of his life.
In an earlier report on the same network, Kennedy interviewed the sister of a veteran who had died of a drug overdose after VA doctors prescribed Adderall, Klonopin, Seroquel, and fifteen other powerful psychiatric drugs. Noting that her sister’s mental state was rapidly deteriorating, she begged the Chief of Staff at the VA medical facility where her sister was being treated to order doctors to stop writing these prescriptions. Her pleas fell on deaf ears. As a result, her sister is dead.
An article penned by American-Statesman staff writer Jeremy Schwartz in 2012 noted that in 2011, “the Pentagon spent more on pills, injections and vaccines than it did on Black Hawk helicopters, Abrams tanks, Hercules C-130 cargo planes and Patriot missiles — combined.”
Schwartz further noted that: “…..the military drug purchases also paint a picture of a fighting force increasingly reliant on antidepressants, psychotropic drugs and powerful narcotic painkillers that critics call dangerous and that have been involved in a growing number of prescription drug overdoses. The military spent at least $2.7 billion on antidepressants and more than $1.6 billion on opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and hydrocodone over the past decade. More than $507 million was spent on the sleeping pill Ambien and its generic equivalents.”
Schwartz’s article also puts the spotlight on the often unscrupulous marketing efforts employed by pharmaceutical companies seeking to convince military doctors to prescribe their medications. Swartz noted that according to the Center for Public Integrity, the pharmaceutical industry spent about $1.7 million for more than 1,400 trips for Defense Department doctors and pharmacists to places such as Paris, Las Vegas and New Orleans between 1998 and 2007.
HELP US STOP THE MEDICATION MADNESS
Operation Grow4Vets believes that the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration need to make a commitment to providing injured and wounded service members and veterans with non-life threatening forms of treatment. The use of medical cannabis is a rational alternative. The prescribing of dangerous, debilitating, often deadly pharmaceuticals should be nothing short of a last resort!