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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/30/10

Human Rights Law and Returning Veterans

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Message Janet Parker

Medical Whistleblower is an advocacy network, providing information and support to those who report medical fraud, patient abuse and neglect and human rights violations. In 2009 Dr. Janet Parker DVM, Executive Director of Medical Whistleblower, brought a shadow report to the United Nations in Geneva to report that there was not adequate protection for those who report human rights abuses. Medical Whistleblower is dedicated for those who cannot speak for themselves, the vulnerable in society and to those who are Medical Whistleblowers and the Defenders of Human Rights.

It is hard to personally face the mind wrenching trauma of war. When veterans return from combat to their families and their communities, those adaptations that made them effective in a wartime environment are no longer effective and can be detrimental to full inclusion into their communities. Our combat veterans may not perceive themselves as vulnerable, however Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can make the most fearsome warrior vulnerable.

One essential aspect of PTSD trauma is the exposure of the person to events which were life-threatening and over which the individual had no control. So treatment for PTSD must include the right to have control over the choice of treatment options. Giving the PTSD patient this control is very empowering for them. Supportive services should include all viable treatment options, especially non drug therapies proven over years of professional assessment by the Veterans Administration to be viable treatments for PTSD such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and EMDR.

Medication side effects are the #4 leading cause of death in the U.S. annually (JAMA 1998). Yet, few people receive adequate information when medication is prescribed. Veterans have the right to make informed, intelligent choices about medications and natural alternatives to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of treatment. There are effective treatment strategies for PTSD that do not use drug therapy. Cognitive Behavioral therapy and EMDR have both proven effective treatment for PTSD. Veterans and their families should have social support services that are independent of Pharmaceutical Company pressure and financing. Veterans have the right to informed choice of care and should be given all options including non drug options. Veterans have the right to have dedicated experienced peer counselors who understand their needs and relate well to them in a personal way. Veterans have the right to have strong advocates working for them to get answers and to be a part of the decision making process at the Veteran's Administration.

Many veterans are understandably fearful of the new drug therapies especially if they read the reports of adverse side effects or have themselves experienced these negative effects themselves. But this should not mean that our veterans do not get care. We should be in the habit of providing care and support in a manner that takes into account the needs and social preferences of the individual veteran, not a one pill fits all mentality. Many veterans are now refusing to engage with social services because of the fear of the drug treatment being forced on them; instead they face divorce, lost of family, loss of employment and eventually homelessness where they live on the street, in tent cities and under bridges.

The homeless problem facing our veterans is a human rights issue. Those who have served our country deserve better care upon return to their communities than they are currently receiving. It is a shocking statistic that about one-third of the adult homeless population has served their country in the Armed Services. Approximately 131,000 Veterans (male and female) are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experience homelessness at some point during the course of a year. Many other Veterans are considered near homeless or at risk because of their poverty, lack of support from family and friends, and dismal living conditions in cheap hotels or in overcrowded or substandard housing. Right now, the number of homeless male and female Vietnam era Veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died during that war -- and Desert Storm and now the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are also appearing in the homeless population. It is inconceivable that PTSD is not related to the realities of facing life in a combat zone.

The Pharmaceutical Industry wants to use the returning veterans as a huge potential pharmaceutical drug customer base. With the US government picking up the tab, the Pharmaceutical companies are lobbying heavily to increase their expected profits from the sales of drugs for PTSD sufferers. The huge numbers of returning veterans are a prime target of their sales efforts. Big Pharma pours lots of money into the political campaigns of those who support their agenda. The Big Pharmaceutical Companies have persons on the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health that are pushing to do wholesale marketing of SSRI's and other mind altering drugs to veterans with PTSD.

When SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft were first introduced in the late 1980's and early 1990's there were reports of increasing violent behavior including suicide and homicide. There were in 2003 reports by British authorities and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about unpublished studies showing an increased risk of suicide in children and teenagers taking Paxil. Prior reports of suicidal and homicidal acts in adults taking SSRIs have been minimized by the pharmaceutical company defenders and mainstream doctors, who claim that suicide is common in depression anyway.

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Medical Whistleblower is an organization dedicated to advocacy and emotional support for those who have bravely stepped forward to "Tell Truth to Power" to the Medical Establishment. Medical Whistleblowers report Medical Fraud, Abuse and (more...)

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