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Press Release

June 24, 2015

No. 15-11

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Painkiller Safety Act to Help Control Over-prescription of Opioids to Veterans

(Washington, D.C.)–– “Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski died as a result of mixed drug toxicity at the Tomah (Wisconsin)Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a place known as ‘Candyland’ to many of the veterans who are patients there, due to its clinicians’ liberal distribution of pain medication,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America.

“Because of the over-prescription by some clinicians of opioids, a class of highly addictive pain killers, VVA endorses and supports the enactment of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, introduced today by Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI-D). We believe the passage of this important legislation will go a long way towards strengthening the VA’s opioid prescribing guidelines and will improve its pain-management services,” Rowan noted.

Tens of thousands of veterans suffer from chronic pain, with many also experiencing the negative effects of narcotic painkillers--an epidemic of addiction that turns lives upside down and impacts families. As a nation, it is our responsibility to ensure that these men and women have access to FDA-approved medications to better manage their pain, while at the same time recognizing that every person experiences pain differently and responds to treatments in different ways.

“The enactment of this legislation will help ensure that our veterans will live long and productive lives, as they manage their pain. But let’s also be very clear,” Rowan warned, “prescription drug overuse is a major concern in the veterans’ community. As such, we also support proactive measures that will educate veterans of this threat and encourage responsible prescribing to ensure these medicines stay out of the hands of those who might abuse or misuse these drugs.”

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”


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