Edmonds Military Wire: VA — 28 medications in one day or medical marijuana?

Prescription drugs and medical marijuana continue to be at the center of an ongoing debate between those who are tasked with determining the best treatments for combat veterans who suffer from wartime ailments and those who have found temporary relief and even cures for post-traumatic stress (PTS) in medical marijuana.

In the movie “When War Comes Home,” Spencer – one of the soldiers highlighted in the film – shares with the interviewer how he was at one point taking more than 20 different prescription drugs daily in order to deal with his PTS.

The moment leaves the audience wondering how it is possible those drugs don’t cause more problems than cures.

A new Quinnipiac University national poll has found that 87 percent of Americans believe that VA doctors should be able to provide marijuana pills to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In military households (where one family member is a veteran or on active duty military service), there’s 82 percent support for the proposition.

But regardless of the popular opinion and even some limited medical evidence, the federal government doesn’t allow Veterans Affairs doctors to prescribe the drug (even in the 23 states that have legalized it for medicinal purposes) and has specifically prohibited them from even offering an opinion about whether it might help an individual patient.

Spencer eventually weaned himself off the drugs and found solace and a path to recovery through interaction with a service dog, proving to himself and to others, that his treatment wasn’t dependent on prescription drugs.

But like marijuana, service dogs are not covered by the VA either.

Only prescription drugs.

Bottom line: there is no one cure or path to recovery when it comes to post-traumatic stress. Should the only suggested and prescribed path be one that involves pharmaceuticals?

– By Michael Schindler

Michael SchindlerMichael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.


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