A medic provided a 26-year-old Army veteran from Seattle with Vicodin, Dilaudid, and morphine just so he could endure the pain while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, officers have learned. He felt the worst pain in 2003 when he was patrolling the steep hills of eastern Afghanistan. Sometimes, he had to ascend the steep landscape in body armor, pack, and weapons that weighed more than 100 pounds, in total.
“My lower back would just start aching from running up the hills. It would just break me,” said the veteran to a doctor. He gave his statement anonymously.
The problem of drugs to subdue pain caused by heavy gear is all the worse when it comes to patients who also suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) and other mental harm from combat. The pain and the drugs combined with the spinal injuries often deepen depression.
One veteran of eastern Afghanistan returned home suffering from severe PTSD. The opiates he took, obtained online, did little to relieve his muscle and back pain. In May 2009, at only 25 years of age, he committed suicide.
The soldier’s mother believes the pain her son suffered was one of the factors in the suicide.
“One of the things he was angry about was that he was always hurt. He never really got a break,” she told a friend.
Another soldier, who served in Iraq, also suffers from PTSD, and was discharged early from the Army. He also has neck injuries, for which he has to take an opiate.
“The neck hurts so bad, sometimes you can’t concentrate on anything other than that,” he told a doctor.
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