I wish I could say that news like this surprises me, but I would be lying if I did, in fact, news like this, just ends up reinforcing many of my beliefs. The Washington Times has done an investigative report called “Disposable Heroes.” In this report they find evidence that the VA has been testing drugs on veterans without telling them of the potentially severe side-effects. I guess the only surprising fact of this is not that they were testing this drug on veterans, but instead, it is the brazen audacity of the government. They act as if there will be no recourse, and no consequences, and unfortunately, they are probably right. For years now there has been an ongoing controversy about Anthrax shots. It is still unknown if there are long term side-effects to these shots. The effects of these shots may not be known for years to come (if there is any.) However, the effects of this new round of testing are known:
the drug may cause serious side effects, including “anxiety, nervousness, tension, depression, thoughts of suicide, and attempted and completed suicide.”
The drug in question in Chantix, an anti-smoking drug. You would think that if the potential side-effects include killing yourself, and potentially harming others, that they would exercise more caution. They don’t, and they don’t care. I’ve been told personally by people inside the VA that the VA has been taken over by pharmaceutical companies, and that priority number one is to medicate the veterans. Anytime you go to the VA the first thing they try to do is put you on some sort of drug. That way the veterans are medicated, and the pharmaceutical companies have a constant stream of test subjects, and a constant stream of government money. This of course is heaped on top (or maybe in conjunction) with the VA covering-up the suicide attempts and completions of Iraq War veterans.
John McCain has been conspicuously quiet about this subject, and I have yet to hear him address it. Maybe that is because McCain doesn’t really care. He has shown time and time again that he is not on the side of veterans. Obama, however, has addressed the issue:
I was very concerned to read this morning’s Washington Times and learn that the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has yet again failed to take appropriate steps to
safeguard the health and well-being of veterans participating in drug trials.
According to a Washington Times/ABC News investigation, the VA took three
months to notify patients about severe side effects from the anti-smoking drug Chantix.
Almost 1,000 veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were paid
$30 a month to participate in a study examining ways to end smoking. A total of 143 of
the study participants took the anti-smoking drug Chantix.
Last November, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert
regarding reports that Chantix led to hallucinations, suicide attempts, and psychotic
behavior. Even though almost 40 suicides and more than 400 examples of suicidal
behavior were eventually attributed to Chantix nationwide, the VA waited three months
after the FDA advisory to alert its study participants about the mental health risks of the
drug. And when the VA did finally notify study participants, it failed to mention the
most serious side effects of suicide and suicidal thoughts. According to the Washington
Times/ABC News investigation, 21 veterans have reported adverse effects from Chantix.
In addition to Chantix, the VA is testing other drugs on veterans with PTSD that carry
warnings of suicidal side effects.
Read the full Obama letter here. We will have to see what happens from here on out, but this seems to have become standard operating procedure for the VA of late–cover-ups and abuse. The VA has their excuses about bureaucracy and rules, but of course, those don’t apply to the actual people’s lives they are ruining. They only serve as an excuse for their immoral, and outrageous actions. Words can’t describe the betrayal I have felt over the last few years, at this current administration and the VA, and those feelings of betrayal (by my own government and country) continue to mount, and I continue to grow more and more bitter. With actions like these it is no wonder that veterans are paranoid, and mistrustful, and tend to ostracize and segregate themselves from society, because the institutions that are supposed to be there to help and protect us, instead mistreat and abuse us. Again I implore you to read the article, and to spread the word, the fact that this isn’t on national news daily is a travesty. Our society is more interested in the celebutards, than in actual important issues. Of course if a soldier does something wrong in theater then it is all over the news, but when there are thousands that are mistreated it is a blip on the radar.