GAO Accepts Coffman, Kuster Recommendation To Review VA’s Psychoactive Prescription Drug Practices
(Washington, DC)— Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has accepted their recommendation to do a full review of the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) standard of mental health care for combat veterans suffering from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran himself, has long been concerned about the growing number of complaints by veterans and their family members that the VA relies far too much on the use of powerful psychoactive drugs, instead of interactive forms of therapy, for the treatment of combat veterans suffering from PTSD.
“This decision is a victory for combat veterans everywhere who are suffering from PTSD and who have been prescribed a cocktail of very powerful drugs to mask their symptoms in lieu of other forms of interactive therapy that work to bring down the stress levels of PTSD to a point where they are no longer debilitating," said Coffman.
Coffman and Kuster’s original letter to the GAO dated August 21, 2017 requested that the GAO review VA's mental health treatment practices for combat veterans suffering from PTSD and expressed a concern that VA's reliance on a drug-centric modality of treatment might be contributing to veteran suicides and cited two specific instances in Colorado where veterans were prescribed powerful drugs to treat their PTSD symptoms and experienced severe adverse reactions with one committing suicide and the other reported missing for days.
“When our men and women return home from the battlefield we need to do all we can to support their transition back to civilian life,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “That means addressing the wounds of war both seen and unseen. We need to ensure that drugs aren’t being used as a substitute for other forms of therapy and I welcome GAO’s announcement that they will review prescribing practices for psychoactive drugs. I appreciate Congressman Coffman’s leadership in taking on this important issue.”
The GAO, has stated that they expect to complete this investigation in six months and that they are conducting the review following the bipartisan request from Coffman and Kuster sent to the VA late last year.
“I want to thank Representative Kuster for joining me in bringing about this needed review by the GAO. Ensuring our combat veterans with PTSD receive the care that they deserve is a priority for both of us,” concluded Coffman.