Failures Burden VA

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 28, 2008 | Go to article overview

Failures Burden VA


Byline: Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq increasingly are suffering from mental trauma that dampens their homecomings, hobbles their re-entry into civilian life and imperils their continued military service - a situation the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has sought to address with treatment, counseling and even drug experimentation.

But even as the VA has worked to provide quality health care for millions of veterans at its facilities across the country, it has endured a series of failures - from not notifying test subjects about new drug warnings to ignoring safeguards during experiments. Those failures have damaged the reputation of the agency charged with supporting vulnerable veterans.

But it also has compromised the speedy recovery of those vets.

President-elect Barack Obama, who has named retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as incoming VA secretary, will have to deal with those long-standing discrepancies in the agency, as well as seek out new solutions to remedy the mental health problems plaguing an ever-growing population of veterans.

Wars are supposed to end when the last shots are fired, but some of our new veterans will unfortunately have to cope with internal demons that may last their lifetime, said Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The Washington Times has focused throughout the year on the VA and scrutinized the agency's handling of human subject drug tests using veterans, its treatment of veterans and the impact it has on service members and their families.

An often disturbing picture of a bureaucratic health care system that is disconnected from its charges has emerged.

The situation at the VA is becoming more urgent, though. A recent study by the Rand Corp. shows that one in five veterans returning from theater in Iraq or Afghanistan will suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mr. Obama's pledge to draw down some 146,000 troops from Iraq over the next sixteen months will increase the VA's burden to diagnose those returning soldiers who are suffering from PTSD and to provide treatment.

It also will increase pressure on the federal government to conduct even more questionable clinical trials on this vulnerable population to find a cure for the elusive psychological trauma.

Despite heightened risks in trying to study drugs in a vulnerable population like recently returned vets with PTSD, the currently available treatments are not especially useful or efficacious, said Arthur Caplan, medical ethicist and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

So more studies will surely be undertaken, he said. This means those charged with human subjects protection will have to be especially vigilant.

In a joint investigation, The Times and ABC News first reported June 16 that the federal government is using thousands of military veterans suffering from PTSD for voluntary clinical trials; several test psychotropic drugs linked to suicidal behavior.

The trend likely will continue. Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are increasingly being recruited for new experiments.

Medical research is vital to understanding and treating such maladies, but equally important is that research subjects know what they're getting into, Mr. Davis said.

Military veterans have already voluntarily done more for their country than virtually everyone else. They must not be used unwittingly for the sake of science, Mr. Davis said.

Drug testing on vulnerable veterans, failures by the VA to notify study participants when new drug warnings were issued and high suicide numbers among the retirees dominated the agenda of veteran support groups and Democrats on Capitol Hill this year.

Gen. Shinseki will be responsible for shaping the future of medical research conducted on veterans with PTSD and to develop new and innovative treatments including stricter ethical standards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Failures Burden VA
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.