Timeline of Veteran Suicides, Legislative Efforts, and Nationwide Negligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Military Sexual Trauma – The New Face of PTSD (2007):

The Other PTSD – Sexual Abuse of Women in the Military -NBC Nightly News (May 4, 2007)

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams Featured ‘The Other PTSD: Sexual Abuse of Women in the Military’ (May 4, 2007)

Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (2007):

The House debates the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which directs the VA to develop and implement a comprehensive program to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. The bill is named for an Iraq veteran who took his own life, and recognizes the special needs of veterans suffering from PTSD and elderly veterans who are at high risk for depression and experience high rates of suicide. -Rep Leonard Boswell (October 23, 2007)

President George W. Bush Signed the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act Into Law (November 5, 2007)

The Number One Problem Combat Vets Will Face is Mental Health (2007):

Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense tells Armen Keteyian that the No. 1 problem facing vets of Afghanistan and Iraq will be mental health. -CBS News (November 13, 2007)

Eye to Eye with Katie Couric on CBS News: Veterans and Suicide (November 13, 2007)

Veterans Who Get Help at VA Are Still at Risk of Suicide (2008):

CBS News first reported on the staggering number of veteran suicides in a report last year. Now, newly-released data shows that vets who get help from the VA are still at risk. -CBS (March 20, 2008)

CBS News: Veteran Suicides An Epidemic (March 20, 2008)

Seven Vets Under VA’s Care Died by Suicide in Washington (2008):

They served their country honorably but after risking their life in combat abroad, coping with coming home was too much. In the last three months seven servicemen being treated by Spokane’s VA Hospital have committed suicide. -4 News Now (April 29, 2008)

Army National Guardsman Spc. Timothy Juneman Died by Suicide; Family Shares Imminent Redeployment to Iraq ‘Major Stressor’ (March 5, 2008)

Senator Patty Murray Alleges VA Cover-up of Veteran Suicide (2008):

Despite recent efforts by the Veterans Administration to prevent veteran suicide, seven have committed suicide in the Inland Northwest in the last four months and US Senator Patty Murray is calling the situation unacceptable. -4 News Now (May 1, 2008)

Senator Patty Murray Calls for Changes at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Wake of Suicides (May 1, 2008)

“The Betrayal Issues Are Really Deep” (2009):

Katie Couric investigates an alarming trend in the U.S. military, as more and more female soldiers have come forward with tales of sexual abuse at the hands of male soldiers and superior officers. -CBS (March 17, 2009)

Sexual Assault Permeates U.S. Armed Forces (CBS News, March 17, 2009)

Continue reading

Department of Veterans Affairs Becomes First Hospital System to Release Opioid Prescribing Rates (January 11, 2018)

VA Opioid Interacive Map

Interactive map expands transparency, shows opioids dispensed among VA health care centers.

Timeline of Veteran Suicides, Legislative Efforts, and Nationwide Negligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs

Today U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin announced that VA has begun publicly posting information on opioids dispensed from VA pharmacies, along with VA’s strategies to prescribe these pain medications appropriately and safely.

With this announcement, VA becomes the only health-care system in the country to post information on its opioid-prescribing rates.

The disclosure is part of VA’s promise of transparency to Veterans and the American people, and builds on VA’s strong record of transparency disclosures — including on wait times, accountability actions, employee settlements and the Secretary’s travel — under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump over the past year.

“Many Veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system suffer from high rates of chronic pain and the prescribing of opioids may be necessary medically,” Secretary Shulkin said. “And while VA offers other pain-management options to reduce the need for opioids, it is important that we are transparent on how we prescribe opioids, so Veterans and the public can see what we are doing in our facilities and the progress we have made over time.”

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said, “Declaring the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency was a call to action by the president.  His administration is exploring all tools and authorities within their agencies to address this complex challenge costing lives. Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. Shulkin is heeding that call; the VA is now the first hospital system in the country to post information on its opioid prescribing rates.  This is an innovative way to raise awareness, increase transparency and mitigate the dangers of over-prescribing.”

The interactive map shows data over a five-year period (2012-2017) and does not include Veterans’ personal information. The posted information shows opioid-dispensing rates for each facility and how much those rates have changed over time.

It is important to note that because the needs and conditions of Veterans may be different at each facility, rates may also be different for that reason, and cannot be compared directly.

The prescribing rate information will be updated semi-annually, on January 15 and July 15 of each year.

As a learning health system using the current best evidence to learn and improve, VA continually develops and refines best practices for the care of Veterans. Releasing this data will facilitate the sharing of best practices in pain management and opioid prescribing among doctors and medical center directors.

Highlights from the data include:

  • A 41-percent drop in opioid-prescribing rates across VA between 2012 and 2017
  • Ninety-nine percent of facilities decreased their prescribing rates.
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Cleveland, Ohio, top the list of medical centers with the lowest prescribing rates, at 3 percent.
  • El Paso, Texas, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, are most improved, and decreased prescribing rates by more than 60 percent since 2012. El Paso’s prescribing rate decreased by 66 percent, and Fayetteville’s decreased by 65 percent.

VA currently uses a multifaceted approach to reduce the need for the use of opioids among Veterans. Since 2012, the Opioid Safety Initiative has focused on the safe use and slow and steady decrease in VA opioid dispensing. VA also uses other therapies, including physical therapy and complementary and integrative health alternatives, such as meditation, yoga and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Information about the VA Opioid Safety Initiative may be found here. A link to the interactive map on VA’s opioid use across the nation may be found here.

Source: VA becomes first hospital system to release opioid prescribing rates

Related Links:
VA doctors freely handed out pain medications to veterans for years.
Then they stopped. The results have sometimes turned tragic

The VA Hooked Veterans on Opioids, Then Failed Them Again
VA Says 68,000 Vets Addicted to Opioid Painkillers
Veterans Face Greater Risks Amid Opioid Crisis
How the VA Fueled the National Opioid Crisis and Is Killing Thousands of Veterans
The Best Effort To Fight Opioid Addiction May Be At This VA Hospital In The Center Of America’s Epidemic
VA OIG Releases Report on Opioid Prescribing Habits
H.R. 5829 (115th): VA Opioid Prescribing Rates Accountability Act
Missouri’s VA Medical Centers Reduced Opioid Prescriptions—McCaskill Applauds Efforts, Seeks Additional Details
Who Overdoses on Opioids at a VA Emergency Department?
VA becomes first hospital system to release opioid prescribing rates
Department of Veterans Affairs Opioid Prescribing Data
Department of Veterans Affairs Opioid Prescribing Data 2
VA Health Services Research & Development: Opioids
Progress Made Towards Improving Opioid Safety, but Further Efforts to Assess Progress and Reduce Risk Are Needed
GAO Recommendations for Executive Action at Department of Veterans Affairs
VA publicly releases opiate prescribing rates for all its hospitals for the first time
VA publicly posts opioid prescription rates for all facilities
San Diego VA cuts opioid prescribing rate from 18% to 10%
How the Military Health System Registry Targets the Opioid Epidemic
Vets on painkillers: See opioid prescribing rates at VA hospitals in NY
Fighting Pain and Addiction for Veterans | The White House
How the VA Is Battling Opioid Use Disorder | PEW
The VA is Prescribing Fewer Opioids – But Not for the Reason You Think
Watchdog: VA cuts opioid prescription rate by 41 percent in past 5 years
Study finds VA prescribes far more opioids to rural veterans than urban counterparts
Charleston VA hospital reducing opioid use for chronic pain treatment
Study shows veterans obtaining opioids from multiple health systems experience higher rates of unintentional overdose
As Opioids Kill More Veterans, Study Shows Treatment Needs
As more veterans die of opioid overdoses, study shows need to focus beyond prescription opioids
Stop persecuting doctors for legitimately prescribing opioids for chronic pain
Millions of opioid pills passed through SC as drug makers allegedly targeted veterans
Local veteran struggles to get prescribed medication in light of drug epidemic
VA mail-out pharmacy responsible for high number of opioids in Charleston Co., data shows
VA Working to Slash Opioid Use Amid New Research on Painkiller Alternatives
VA opioid prescriptions are down but there’s still work to be done
Amarillo VA has highest opioid prescribing rate in Texas, working to cut back
Data shows Roseburg VA has highest opioid prescribing rate in U.S.
El Paso VA leads US in cutting opioid prescribing
Fayetteville VA leading efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions
Opioid prescribing rate drops at Buffalo VA, other medical centers
Opioid prescriptions down at Salt Lake VA hospital since 2012
Tex. Veterans Affairs Doctors Prescribing Less Opioids
Federal Investigation Finds Tomah VA Not Prescribing Opioids ‘Like Candy’
Military veterans defy Jeff Sessions, fight for medical marijuana to kick opioid addiction
Report: Prescriptions Aren’t Causing The Opioid Epidemic
Opioid Abuse in the U.S. Military – PCSS

Senator Patty Murray Calls for Changes at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Wake of Suicides (May 1, 2008)

Despite recent efforts by the Veterans Administration to prevent veteran suicide, seven have committed suicide in the Inland Northwest in the last four months and US Senator Patty Murray is calling the situation unacceptable. -4 News Now (May 1, 2008)

Related Links:
Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Veterans – United States Senator Patty Murray
“Epidemic” of military suicides investigated
Veterans and Suicide | CBS (November 13, 2007)
President Bush Signed the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act Into Law
Army National Guardsman Spc. Timothy Juneman Died by Suicide; Family Shares Imminent Redeployment to Iraq ‘Major Stressor’ (March 5, 2008)
CBS News: Veteran Suicides An Epidemic (March 20, 2008)
Seven Veterans Under VA’s Care Commit Suicide
Murray calls for changes in VA in wake of veteran suicides
Murray Assails Top VA Official over Vets Suicide Cover-Up
Rural Veterans Access to Care Act, VA’s ‘Strength of a Warrior’ Campaign, Sen. Patty Murray Calls for More to Be Done for Suicidal Vets
Murray’s visit to Vancouver puts focus on veterans issues
New data reveals high death rates for Iraq, Afghanistan vets
Investigation blasts VA over wait times for mental health care
Senator Patty Murray: Veteran’s suicide prevention bill passes Senate
Murray Reiterates Mental Health Challenges Facing Veterans
U.S. military veteran suicides rise, one dies every 65 minutes
Mental Health and Suicide Among Veterans (Senate Hearing)
Waiting At VA Hospitals: A Matter Of Life And Death
Sen. Murray: VA system needs change now, not another report
Spokane Veterans Affairs hospital brings budget concerns to Sen. Patty Murray
Senator Patty Murray Urges DEA to Get Right on Pot
Sen. Murray Urges Greater Accountability, Assistance for Veteran Suicide Prevention at Senate Hearing
As Senate Prepares to Vote on Sweeping Legislation to Improve Veteran Access to Care, Senator Murray Highlights a Provision of the Bill That She Wrote, Which Would Finally Expand VA’s Caregiver Support Program
Senator Murray Continues to Fight for Veterans and their Families, Urges Support for Bill to Reduce Medical Costs for Veterans with Newborns
Timeline of Veteran Suicides, Legislative Efforts, and Nationwide Negligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs

CBS News: Veteran Suicides An Epidemic (March 20, 2008)

CBS News first reported on the staggering number of veteran suicides in a report last year. Now, newly-released data shows that vets who get help from the VA are still at risk. Armen Keteyian reports. -CBS News (March 20, 2008)

Related Links:
Veteran Suicides An Epidemic (CBS News)
Suicides Seen Among Vets Treated By VA
Eye to Eye with Katie Couric on CBS News: Veterans and Suicide (November 13, 2007)
Timeline of Veteran Suicides, Legislative Efforts, and Nationwide Negligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs
Wounded Warrior Project
Home Base Program, Veteran & Family Care
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
American Federation of Suicide Prevention
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
320 Changes Direction – The Campaign to Change Direction
Give an Hour: Department of Veteran’s Affairs Partnership
US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA MISSION Act

Eye to Eye with Katie Couric on CBS News: Veterans and Suicide (November 13, 2007)

Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense tells Armen Keteyian that the No. 1 problem facing vets of Afghanistan and Iraq will be mental health. -CBS News (November 13, 2007)

Related Links:
Eye To Eye: Vets And Suicide (CBS News)
The Veteran Suicide “Epidemic” (CBS News)
Nov. 13: CBS News Interviews VCS About Epidemic of Iraq War Veteran Suicides
CBS News: Veteran Suicides An Epidemic (March 20, 2008)
Timeline of Veteran Suicides, Legislative Efforts, and Nationwide Negligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs
Wounded Warrior Project
Home Base Program, Veteran & Family Care
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
American Federation of Suicide Prevention
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
320 Changes Direction – The Campaign to Change Direction
Give an Hour: Department of Veteran’s Affairs Partnership
US Department of Veterans Affairs
VA MISSION Act