Legion testifies on VA over-medication issue

In its written testimony for an April 30 congressional hearing, The American Legion shared two key points emerging from an online survey it conducted last February on veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):

• Medication appears to be the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) front-line treatment reported by respondents

• A sizeable proportion of respondents reported prescriptions of up to 10 medications for PTSD/TBI across their treatment experiences.

The Legion’s testimony, “Overmedication: Problems and Solutions,” was submitted for a Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing.

Results from the Legion’s survey, based on answers from more than 3,100 respondents, will be highlighted at its June 24 symposium in Washington: “Advancing Care and Treatment for Veterans with TBI and PTSD.” The event will also focus on complementary and alternative treatments for the two conditions.

Referring to anecdotal accounts of veterans struggling with the over-prescribing of medications, the Legion stated that TBI/PTSD treatments should “include alternative treatments and therapies, and they need to make them accessible to all veterans. If these alternative treatments and therapies are deemed effective, they should be made available and integrated into the veterans’ current health care….”

In 2010, The American Legion established a committee to investigate existing science and procedures for treating TBI and PTSD, including complementary and alternative methods. Its findings and recommendations were published in the September 2013 report, “The War Within.”

Click here to read The American Legion’s complete written testimony for the hearing.


  1. My comment relates to medication I have been taking for over 30 years. I do not have PTSD or TBI, I have Multiple Sclerosis. I was honorably discharged in 1974 and developed double vision soon after. I had issues while still in but no doctors could diagnose the cause my problems. Once discharged the double vision made it impossible to do my job so I was hospitalized for one week and given all of the available tests. The tests resulted in the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. For me, MS causes severe muscle spasms, pain, weakness, nerve inflamation resulting in demylination of the nerves and resulting relapses. I have been prescribed many medications, but all are necessary to control the exasperations caused by MS. The VA sent a letter to me last month saying the VA is no longer recommending any tranqualizers (benzodiazepines) for ongoing treatment in the VA. Having been on these (benzos) since 1984 at the same dose for all of that period of time I have never had a problem (side effects), with this medication. My muscle spasams, inflamation of nerves, demylization of my nerves insulators have been greatly reduced together with a major decrease in exasperations and relapses. The VA is adimate that I stop taking any benzodiazopine and do not have an alternative to the positive effects of xanax (a benzodiazopine.) They have told me it is very dangerous to stop taking this med. which "can lead to seizures and even death. Needless to say I feel it is uncalled for to eliminate this medication for all Veterans based on their reasoning. It should be the Veteran's choice to remain on their treatment if it has been working. I consider myself as a very lucky Veteran that had excellent past medical treatment which has prevented me from becoming unable to having a meaningful life. Please help me and other Veterans to see that this medication on a nationwide total elimination is not implemented. There are many people that respond well to this medication, and to "roll the dice," and eleminate on a "blanket whim" is totally unreasonable. The people that decided to over react and discontinue all prescribing of this medication for ALL VETERANS, (especially with the risk of causing seizures and even DEATH,) need to be redirected until they can develop an alternative that will prevent SEIZURES AND DEATH. Please help, I'm seriously upset about this faulty judgement.
  2. Let me know if I can assist you with getting a doctor. If not, please let me know that things are taken care of. Thank you!
  3. I have had a condition called Tardive dyskinesia since 1989. The symptoms of tardive dyskinesia are a side effect of medications that are targeted at the specific dopamine receptor involved in emotion and lower cognitive function. These medications, including metoclopramide (commonly known as Reglan, Deglan and Maxolon to name a few), wind up affecting the function of voluntary muscle control.I was being treated for PTSD when this happened. tardive dyskinesia has made my life a living hell, now I have cronic PTSD and tardive dyskinesia on top of it. Veterans must be very careful taking the meds the VA dish out to them. I have lived in ioslation since 1989, I was 39 when it happened, I am 65 now. What lttle life I had they took away from me, PLEASE be carareful if they don't kill you they can destroy what little life you have. SEMPER FI
  4. On May 26, 2000, a jury in the circuit court of Philadelphia awarded $6.7 million to a patient afflicted with tardive dyskinesia caused by the neuroleptic ("antipsychotic") drug Risperdal (generic name, risperidone). In Liss vs. Doeff, the jury found the psychiatrist negligent in his treatment of Mrs. Elizabeth Liss. The case is among the first involving Risperdal, a relatively new neuroleptic that was put on the market in 1994 and originally promoted as relatively free of the risk of tardive dyskinesia. Peter R. Breggin, M.D., referred the case to the attorneys and acted as a medical consultant throughout the case.
  5. It's not just PTSD/TBI either. I have intracranial hypertension and for the past 10 months have played wheel of fortune with the VA to manage the debilitating headaches I get from this condition. My body doesn't tolerate the medication necessary at therapeutic levels to control this problem. But instead of then going to the next option, which is shunt surgery, they'd rather spend months playing around with different medicines at different doses, meanwhile my life is put on complete hold while they drag their feet--I had to withdraw from school, can't hold a job, have no idea where money for my next rent check is coming from. It's beyond ridiculous. I take on a daily basis over 15 pills that have horrible side effects themselves and have no end in sight, when it could most likely all be resolved with a surgical procedure and I can get back to working and going to school. I recognize that medication should be the first line of offense, but when it's proven the medicine isn't working or can't be tolerated, then the answer should not be to try every other known medication and/or dosage while the patient suffers mentally, physically, and financially, especially if there is a known surgical option.
  6. Doesn't surprise anyone who's ever went the VA, my doctor starts yawning about two minutes into my exam.
  7. I found out what PTSD was about 4 years ago,I am getting treatment now and my nightmares has been cut down 60% but I am well medicated,it all started by inspecting C-130H that came from Nam several times a month, I and another guy had to inspect the caskets and bags for contrabands,I never got over it and it don't appear in my military records. So there goes my claim.
  8. Well I should know about this problem personally. I first was given CBT Therapy over 20 years ago from the VA. A year later, after talk therapy was started, I was given a Controlled Substance, Schedule IV, for anxiety and sleep problems. That addiction is still unresolved and resulted in full disability.
  9. I requested a Doctor to speak with on my PTS. When I went to visit this guy in Tucson, I was opening up with great emotion when suddenly his cell phone starts vibrating and he puts his hand up and stops me. He did this 3 times while I'm pouring my guts out. I stood up and gave him the bird asking him "where the heck did you get your degree". I walked and still wish someone would take the time to listen.
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