Do your homework, Fox News!

Do your homework, Fox News!

February 23, 2011 – Fox News brought prescription drug abuse to our attention today, focusing on drug abuse by the military.  Unfortunately, Fox News failed to mention that the Department of Defense and the VA Medical Centers are the ones handing the drugs out like candy.  Shame on you, Fox News, for making it look like our troops and veterans are starting this problem all on their own!  The next time you are in Lexington, Kentucky, call me and get the REAL story!

John Roberts, who recently became a reporter for Fox News, after leaving CNN, was in Lexington today with the White House Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowse, who has launched a new initiative to discourage abuse of prescription drugs.

The story was presented numerous times on Fox News today.   Each time the story aired, disciplined members of the military who fell victim to prescription drugs were described as the new face of drug abuse.  Roberts shared the stories of LCpl Dustin Gross, (USMC, Retired) and Army Specialist Ingrid Rodwell.

We were told that LCpl Gross became addicted to pain pills after being injured by an IED blast while deployed.  The chosen focus in the Fox News story was that of Gross’s addiction and what he was willing to do to in desperation to get more pain pills.  It was even mentioned that he first declined narcotics when given the option of taking them.  Were we to assume that Gross waited until leaving the military before considering the option of pain medication?

In the case of SPC Rodwell, we heard about her difficult childhood and her choice to self-medicate using pills found in her mother’s medicine cabinet.  Once again, it would seem that the military is off the hook with regard to any responsibility of drug abuse.

We were told that the increase in prescription drug abuse in our military more than doubled between 2005 and 2008, rising from 10% to 22%.  One can only fathom what that statistic is today in 2011.

Kerlikowse said, “Sometimes as a country we only have a certain capacity for the complex problems and this was one that I truly believe was a bit under the radar screen but now it is really out there in front of everyone.”

“Part of the problem,” Roberts stated, “is that the drugs are readily available in medicine cabinets, on the streets, or from so called pill mills, shady pain clinics that will prescribe just about anything for a price.”

Roberts informed us that many of the drugs which end up on the streets here in Kentucky are coming up from Florida via what’s called “Flamingo Road”.  Dozens of pill mills in Florida are said to be the origination point for the illegal prescription drugs entering our state.

I’ve heard plenty of news about Flamingo Road and the drug problem here in Kentucky. It’s sad to hear that prescription drugs take the lives of 82 Kentuckians each month.  I think it’s important and necessary to bring these issues to the nation’s attention, but I’m confused as to why Fox News decided to air this story from such a limited perspective.

I’m sure everything stated in this news piece was true, however, Fox News omitted some very important information.  If they chose to air this story, featuring two of our veterans, why didn’t they go on to inform us of the real causes for the increase in drug abuse in our military?  Even more frustrating is the fact that the only mention of the VA Medical Center in this account was in telling us that both Gross and Rodwell had gotten clean thanks to treatment received in a VA drug program.  While I’m glad to hear that both veterans are on the road to a better life, I know there is another side to the VA’s treatment programs which needs to be investigated.

The majority of our troops and veterans who find themselves with a drug problem did not get their first prescriptions from their mother’s medicine cabinet or the Flamingo Road pipeline.  The first prescriptions likely came from the military doctors treating these men and women.

Besides physical injuries which cause significant pain, our troops are dealing with traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress.  Military doctors are throwing dangerous drug cocktails at their patients and shoving them out the door.  With a staff shortage and no time to treat everyone who needs an appointment, doctors prescribe these pills with a 180 count bottles to allow more time in between patient appointments.

It’s time for all those who are responsible, military and civilian, to be held accountable for their actions.  It’s time for all of us to keep a close watch on our medicine cabinets.  It’s time to crack down on the illegal sale of drugs and get rid of pipelines like Flamingo Road, and it is also time for the Department of Defense and the VA Medical Centers to admit that in taking the easy way out and prescribing a multitude of pills to our troops, they have created an entire generation of drug addicts.

When I first caught a glimpse of the headline running across my television screen, “Veterans Among Largest Group Affected by Prescription Abuse” I was elated, thinking that I was finally going to hear that something was being done to combat this problem.  After realizing the story didn’t even touch on the real issues facing our veterans with regard to drug abuse, I was quickly disappointed.

Do your homework Fox News!  There are thousands of troops, veterans, and family members suffering because the military medical community can’t handle their caseload.  Lives are being destroyed and the culprits are nowhere near Flamingo Road.  They are walking the halls of our military hospitals and our VA Medical Centers.

How do I know this to be true?  I’m counted among the family members who have become casualties of the war on terror and casualties of the resulting war on prescription drugs.

Originally published by the author on fellednot.com

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