Report Says VA Failed In Care Of Veteran
Five days before my book was to be released, an article was written in the San Diego Union Tribune that again illustrates what my book describes in detail. The article is as follows:
Steele, J. (2016, January 10). Report Says VA Failed In Care Of Veteran. San Diego Union Tribune, Retrieved from http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jan/10/va-report-jeremy-sears-veteran-suicide/#sthash.am7r0ZFo.dpuf
Since this is the closing comments in the book in chapter 13 and identifies what I feel is again negligence on the part of the VA, which resulted in the suicide death of a 35 year old Camp Pendleton Marine, Jeremy Sears, at an indoor Oceanside gun range in October 2014; I want to elaborate on this tragedy.
For me, this story hits close to home since I personal know many Marines at Camp Pendleton and have even used the Oceanside indoor gun range on numerous occasions. Ever since this tragic death, there have been organizations and people that I know well, such as the American Combat Veterans Of War (ACVOW) and retired Marine General Attorney David Brahms, questioning the VA’s treatment of Sgt. Sears.
As a result of their work, these critics’ statements resulted in the VA’s own Inspector General finally investigating the claim that Sgt. Sears fell through the cracks in their system. This investigation revealed a measure of confirmation that the VA mishandled Sgt. Sears’s treatment. The newspaper article states that the Inspector General’s “report reveals that San Diego VA doctors continued to prescribe a narcotic painkiller – hydrocodone drug known as Vicodin – for 22 months without any oversight, even though studies have warned that chronic pain elevates the risk of suicide attempts. And, high suicide risk makes use of hydrocodone less appropriate”. Although the newspaper report didn’t mention brain altering psychiatric anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medication being used, I suspect that it was also prescribed.
As I have mentioned previously in my book, research has shown that there is a link between TBI and suicide. Also the adverse reactions of narcotic medication and psychiatric medications have a black box warning, with the first adverse event being identified as suicide. The newspaper article states “Overall, the VA Inspector General’s analysis said the San Diego VA erred in several ways during the nearly 2 years Sgt. Sears was under its care”.
From my perspective, I feel based on past history that one of the only ways that people can be identified and held responsible for this travesty is through formal litigation, similar to what has occurred in the Pennsylvania VA case that I mention in detail in my book.