By Robert Rose.
(Editor’s Note: 51-year old Robert Rose was denied an opportunity to speak to his Congressman Phil Roe of Tennessee on Monday when the Congressman spoke at the Mountain Home VA Center in Johnson City, TN. What follows are the remarks he had planned to make which he has allowed to share with you on this Independence Day)
Good morning. My name is Sgt. Robert Rose. I joined the Marines in 1983. As a Marine I served in Rota, Spain, Naples, Italy, Camp Lejeune as well as doing two deployments to the Med. I know that God protected me in that I did not see combat but as each of you know, training can sometimes be just as dangerous. While humping my ALICE pack and my M16, I damaged my hips, legs and ankles and through stupidity damaged my spine in my short 11 years and thus became a veteran.
Currently there are more than 23 million veterans in the United States who I proudly call my brothers and sisters in green. Many of us have witnessed firsthand or heard the many ways in which the VA delays or denies us benefits and quality healthcare. The sad truth of the matter is that Congress is complicit in many of these policies. Just look at how many years it took for veterans from Vietnam to get limited benefits relating to Agent Orange. The list of atrocities against veterans sponsored by Congress and the VA is too long to describe but we do need to expose the latest genocidal policies denying us and those following in our footsteps pain medications for intractable diseases and injuries. These policies do result in cruel and inhumane treatment of our brothers and sisters and ultimately leads to death. Even prisoners of war and terrorists are provided with better healthcare which protects them against the cruel and inhumane treatment we receive from the VA.
In 2008 the Senate heard testimony from pain doctors and pain specialists to determine the consequences of denying pain medications. Dr. Alex Deluca was very explicit as he testified the result was the same as a death sentence. In his testimony he explained that people with Chronic Pain would suffer as their bodies slowly failed organ by organ. Heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, increased incidence or worsening of diabetes, not to mention the physical changes in the brain as the body attempted to deal with the suffering. Dr. DeLuca even reported that patients being denied pain medications would be twice more likely to commit suicide than the national average. In 2012, Congress conducted similar hearings with a new group of pain doctors and specialists. The conclusions from these experts were the same; denial of pain medications is a death sentence to Chronic Pain Patients.
With the ink still wet on these findings in 2012, the VA began its “opioid safety initiative” in various cities in Minnesota. Slowly the VA devised propaganda to lessen the veteran outcry and to discredit those who spoke out against the policy. With the findings from Fargo, St. Cloud and Minneapolis showing them the way, the VA choose more cities across the nation to implement and fine tune the policies – Boston Mass., Roanoke, Virginia, Dayton, Ohio, and the list goes on. Veteran suicides continued to mount as did cases of death due to natural causes after pain medications were denied to veterans and even cancer patients across the nation.
In March 2016, four years after the VA implemented its “opioid safety initiative,” the CDC made their now famous guidelines which we later found to be totally inaccurate. Despite the CDCs own press release in December 2016 clearly stating the majority of opioid overdoses were NOT caused by legal medication but by illegal Fentanyl and heroin being imported from China and Mexico the VA continues to deny us quality healthcare. The VA adopted the guidelines not as suggestions but as policy the same month and to make matters worse, the VA changed the guidelines to include statements such as; “doctors should not take the threat of suicide seriously when a veteran is placed on a forced taper or denied pain medications.” Even with this press release in June 2017, “veterans and over 100 million American pain patients are now being condemned to lying in bed or committing suicide simply because they cannot get proper pain relief;” the “opioid safety initiative” is still being forced upon us. It is amazing that as public outcry continues to increase as more and more Americans are facing these genocidal policies with Medicare and Medicaid adopting them all the while Washington turns a deaf ear on our suffering. It is a sad commentary that Congress and the VA are determined to murder even more veterans and Americans as they continue to deny us with quality healthcare.
Please ask Mr. Shulkin to release the actual number of suicides from ALL 50 states? Please ask the VA to release the number of deaths by natural causes after a veteran was forced on a taper or denied pain medication? Please ask them how many veterans with cancer are suffering because of these policies? As much as we love our country, it is time for us to take a stand. It is time for Congress and the VA to hear our voices before more needlessly die at their hands. Or will this financially motivated genocide become known as the American Holocaust?