As a former Navy SEAL officer turned veterans advocate, I hope our lawmakers will be inspired by their time spent on Memorial Day in somber remembrance of the fallen to redouble their support of the returned.
America’s veterans are in crisis. On average, 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Veterans suffer chronic severe pain at rates disproportionately higher than their civilian counterparts (roughly 40 percent higher, according to the National Institutes of Health), helping explain why the opioid crisis has hit veterans at a rate two times the national average. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), upwards of 20 percent of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will experience post-traumatic stress or depression.
While VA physicians are quick to prescribe powerful drug cocktails (opiates and benzodiazepines) in response to these and other service-related conditions, the federal government continues to deny veterans