Persistence Pays Off For the Marine with Chronic Pain

By Ed Coghlan.

When you think of a U.S. Marine, the qualities of persistence and perseverance come to mind.

Those qualities are exactly what Robert Rose-a retired Marine living in Tennessee who suffers from chronic-has exhibited in the last couple of years.

We reported earlier this week that Rose had been pressing the Senate Committee for an opportunity to testify, but they hadn’t been returning his emails and telephone calls.

Well, that’s changed.

Robert indicated that he received a call from VA committee staffer who had read the National Pain Report story and asked that Robert share his concerns about the VA policy denying all pain meds.

He sent the speech he wanted to give via email to a number of elected officials and staffers on Capitol Hill.

Here it is in it entirety:

Good afternoon. My name is Robert Rose. I am a Christian. I am a Marine. To the Senate VA Committee & members of Congress in general I represent a threat. They fear me because I am not afraid of exposing their genocidal policies of DENY till DEAD targeting veterans.

If you doubt this claim, please ask yourself the following questions:

The official end to the Vietnam War was April 30, 1975. In the intervening 42 years much research has confirmed the harmful effects of Agent Orange. A few of the illnesses include increased rates of cancer, nerve, digestive, skin, respiratory disorders as well as more than twice the rate of highly aggressive prostate cancers. Veterans filed 39,419 claims from 1977 till April 1993; of those only 486 Agent Orange victims received benefits. To this day, Congressional & VA policies continue to deny benefits to many surviving veterans. All you need to do is ask a Blue Water or a C-123 Veteran what benefits they are receiving all these years later. I can tell you this, in 2017, Congress & the VA again dismissed eighteen months of new research into the harms Agent Orange effectively denying benefits once again.

Even with the research regarding the harm from the burn pits being so similar to that of the Agent Orange during the first Gulf War and since, Congress & the VA are already beginning the same DENY till DEAD policies. As proof I offer you in 2017, the VA indicated even more research would be required to assess what if any benefits should be provided for Gulf War Syndrome.

All is not well within the Department of Veterans Affairs. They allocate millions of dollars on a propaganda machine whose sole purpose is to hide and distort controversial findings. One such discovery in December 2017 was that the VA has been hiring unlicensed doctors and medical professionals for at least fifteen years. Shulkin’s excuse, “I don’t know how any organization or any human being could appropriately understand and follow 66,000 policies.” Seems pretty straight forward to me, if a person does not have a license, you don’t hire them. Now if this had been a civilian medical facility, it would still be the top headline in every major news outlet but since it was only veterans, the media, like Congress turns their backs on us. Unfortunately, as organizations like the American Legion, the DAV, the Wounded Warriors Project to name but a few continue to protect their tax breaks and huge membership donations paying their directors hundreds of thousands each year, these policies will not change until the truth is exposed; politically correct or not.

Most recently, government leaders would have you to believe the Unites States has an opioid epidemic. This just is not the case. The streets of America have an illegal drug use problem but that includes cocaine, crystal meth, even bath salts. The problem for the government is that these drugs don’t have the same monetary benefit as targeting legally prescribe pain medications. Basically we have a problem of greed among our elected officials which is leading them to target innocents; veterans and over 100 million Americans with chronic, debilitating injuries and disease.

The propaganda though did not just manifest itself on its own. Our government and the VA are both complicit in using veterans as guinea pigs to develop and implement these policies over a long period of time. If I am not mistaken, it began with another Senate committee in 2008. For that hearing, Dr. Alex Deluca provided medically based testimony in the continuing war on drugs. From his research he stated if people with chronic pain conditions are denied all pain medications it would be a DEATH SENTENCE. Listen closely to what he said to the Senate in 2008.

Unrelieved pain can be accurately thought of as the “universal complicator” which worsens all coexisting medical or psychiatric problems through the stress mechanisms to create chronic cardiovascular stress, hyperglycemia which both predisposes to and worsens diabetes, splanchnic vasoconstriction leading to impaired digestive function and potentially with catastrophic consequences. We must also consider often profound decrements in family and occupational functioning, and iatrogenic morbidity. What happens to patients denied needed pharmacological pain relief is well documented for example with the morbidity and mortality resulting from the high incidence of moderate to severe postoperative pain and continues to be a major problem despite an array of available advanced analgesic technologies. With untreated and inadequately-treated pain the risk of death by suicide is more than doubled in chronic pain patients as is relative to national rates.

This is a small portion of Dr. DeLuca’s overall report to the Senate. Again that was in 2008. Two short years later in 2010, the VA confirmed the reports accuracy with their research; Severe pain predicts greater likelihood of subsequent suicide! This is just the title of the report so you can only imagine the contents. One notable statement from the report: “veterans with severe pain were more likely to die by suicide than patients experiencing none, mild or moderate pain.”

With multiple reports based on reliable research which did not “cherry pick” data one would think Congress & the VA would re-think the genocidal policies implemented in secrecy in 2012 but sadly that is not the case. In St Cloud, Fargo and Minnesota, Minneapolis they began to implement the “opioid safety initiative” with devastating results in the veteran population. Reports began to pour in of deaths, suicides and of veterans turning to street drugs. With this data, the VA was able to create media blackout policies to hide the number of veterans committing suicides, even on properties owned by the VA. They continued implementing the policy using a targeted cities strategy across the nation to determine the effectiveness and the best ways to defend what amounts to genocide targeting the elderly, cancer patients & the disabled. In Roanoke, Virginia in 2014 we learned of Navy veteran, Kevin Keller who had committed suicide in a parking lot of a VA center leaving a note behind for his friend. “Marty sorry I broke into your house and took your gun to end the pain. FU VA can’t take it anymore.”

In 2015, Washington state veteran suicides increased to 233 after the opioid safety initiative began in the Walla Walla VA medical center. The data continued to roll in as city after city adopted the policy; Baltimore, Maryland, Dayton, Ohio, Orlando Florida. Then in 2016, the VA confirmed the data; Dr. DeLuca was correct in in his assessment provided to the Senate in 2008: when denying patients all pain medications it is a DEATH SENTENCE! Specifically the reports states in fiscal year 2013, patients prescribed less than 90 morphine equivalent daily dose accounted for 85.7% of overdose/suicide related deaths. The report continues to report in 2010 to 2011 and 2013 to 2014 the opioid discontinuation WAS NOT associated with overdose mortality but WAS associated to increased suicide mortality. In plain English, the “opioid safety initiative” was a huge success in ridding the VA of the elderly, cancer patients and the disabled.

The saddest part of these deaths, so far they have been for naught. In March 2016, the CDC adopted the “opioid safety initiative” from the VA and published them as “guidelines version 1.0.” Eventually the CDC admitted it had used a biased group of “professionals” and had “cherry picked” the data used to create this policy. They even admitted as much not once, but twice to congress that prescribed medications were not the source of the overdose deaths. Meanwhile, with Congressional approval the VA adopted in December 2016, version 3.0; the “VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain”

One wonders how something so horrendous could possibly become even more evil but the VA managed to pull it off. The new version of the “opioid safety initiative” specifically recommends against long-term opioid therapy for patients under the age of 30. (Page 45).

Seriously? The vast majority of our Armed Forces returning home injured in the line of duty are under the age of 30. Does this magical number somehow lessen a veteran’s pain from being shot? Blown-up? The loss of a limb? Don’t worry the VA also came up with something else for our elderly veterans. On Page 50 of this new improved “policy,” doctors are advised to ignore the threat of suicide when forced tapering or denying a veteran on Long Term Opioid medical treatment.

With this testimony, you may think I am here just for veterans. This is not the case. Sadly members of this very committee have sold out the American people. They among others continue to spread the misinformation about a falsified opioid crisis to deceive President Trump and to play on the loss of his brother. One must realize they are not telling him that less than one percent of patients exposed to legally prescribe opiates become addicted pain medications. This is true for emergency room treatment of broken arms, dental procedures such as the removal of wisdom teeth and long term medically supervised prescriptions for severe injuries or disease resulting in chronic pain. Even the CDC guidelines being used by his opioid commission have strong biases against the pain community as it contains no input from pain medicine specialists or even chronic pain patients. The document is nothing more than a literature review of the harms and risks of opioids without any substantial supporting evidence. It plays heavily on creating fear and panic about a non-existent crisis while targeting the weakest among us; the elderly, cancer patients and the disabled. If I’m ever giving the opportunity to address the honorable President Trump, I will tell him in no uncertain terms: Sir, you have been lied to. If you really want to help America please abolish these guidelines and the VA’s policy to deny all pain medications. Please create a “consumer based board” which is solely made up of chronic pain patients who have experienced excruciating pain and issues getting LEGALLY prescribed opioid medication.  I would also request you conduct focus groups of chronic pain patients who have been treated successfully with opioids for years.  Only then will you have guidelines that serve the public, primary care doctors, and chronic pain patients. Lastly, adequate pain control is a fundamental right of every American, veteran and civilian, so it is imperative a section be created detailing how patient abandonment will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Without your intervention, members of congress will continue funneling money into the healthcare, pharmaceutical and rehab industries instead of providing adequate healthcare for ALL Americans. They will continue to do this because they have been bought and paid by the contributions from these multi-billion dollar corporations which we cannot compete against.

We even have a several examples sitting on the Senate VA Committee: for example the honorable Chairman Senator Johnny Isakson received over $3 million dollars from them. The honorable soccer mom Senator Patty Murray has received over $2 million dollars. And let us not forget the honorable Senator Bill Cassidy who recently sponsored a bipartisan bill, CARA 2, providing millions to the manufacturer of Suboxone, a drug known to fail 66% of the time to treat both addicts and chronic pain patients. This drug is especially evil in the method it is delivered, plastic strips, which make safely withdrawing a virtual nightmare for anyone it is prescribed. Senator Cassidy has received but a small $4.5 million in campaign contributions from the healthcare community.

I would like to ask the senator; Sir, how much stock do you have with Indivior?

Sir, do you know that on the packaging you will find the following? SUBOXONE Film can cause serious life-threatening breathing problems, overdose and death, particularly when taken by the intravenous (IV) route in combination with benzodiazepines or other medications that act on the nervous system. Just exactly how do you propose to save lives by providing an expensive $2,000 plus synthetic opioid which fails to help anyone the majority of the time?

The betrayal of the America for greed must end now. Adequate pain control is a fundamental right of every American, veteran &civilian, so it is imperative we stop these attacks against legitimate patients. The result is already building to the second “Trail of Tears” as congressional greed once again corrupts the very laws intended to safeguard life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Congressional leaders please let this message serve as your wake up call.

Americans are going to hear the TRUTH.

Veterans are not going to take the abuse any longer.

Vets are not guinea pigs! The contract with our government for service includes appropriate and adequate healthcare in exchange for serving our country. We did our part; now do yours!

Either, stand behind your oath of office to defend this great nation or get the hell out! No more DENY till DEAD for veterans! No more DENY till DEAD for defenseless Americans!