MMQB – Congress Pushes Pot For Veterans

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Pot for Veterans

Benjamin KrauseBipartisan lawmakers in Congress proposed legislation last week to allow VA physicians to discuss and recommend use of pot for veterans in states where such use is legal.

Currently, VA physicians cannot discuss marijuana use where legal to veterans who would benefit from its use. Called Veterans Equal Access Act, the proposed legislation is backed by Republicans and Democrats representing states where it is legal to smoke pot.

I can imagine the pharmaceutical lobby will push back hard against this proposed law. What do you think? Is it time we get on with it and let people treat their ailments with a drug that is far less dangerous than the psychotropic drugs currently pushed on vets?

Welcome to this edition of Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) for Veterans. I am your host, Benjamin Krause, creator of the DisabledVeterans.org community. This is the number one place of unadulterated veteran centric news, analysis and benefits strategy on the web. MMQB is where I hit on news from the weekend and talk about upcoming news this week.

Here is what we will cover in a brief today:

  • Congress Pushes Pot For Vets
  • VA Severs Ties With Corrupt Contractor
  • Firing Of VA Director Upheld
  • How To Avoid Student Loan Forgiveness Pitfalls
  • Upcoming Congressional Hearings

 

CONGRESS PUSHES POT FOR VETS

Bipartisan legislation was proposed last week on Capitol Hill to allow VA physicians to talk to veterans about the benefits of marijuana use in states where it is legal. The legislation is sponsored by 10 lawmakers: Dina Titus (D-NV), Justin Amash (R-MI), Paul Broun (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Sam Farr (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Steve Stockman (R-TX) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

In 2011, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) issued a directive that said:

“VHA policy does not administratively prohibit Veterans who participate in State marijuana programs from also participating in VHA substance abuse programs, pain control programs, or other clinical programs where the use of marijuana may be considered inconsistent with treatment goals.” However, in addition to giving wide discretion to continue discrimination against veterans, the policy also forbids VA physicians from issuing medical marijuana recommendations to their patients.

This proposal should see pushback because VA is a federal agency that, under the proposed law, would be encouraging the breaking of a federal law. What is your position on this one?

Read More: http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/56995-u-s-house-bill-introduced-to-overturn-ban-on-veterans-affairs-physicians-recommending-medical-marijuana.html

 

VA SEVERS TIES WITH CORRUPT CONTRACTOR

The Washington Times reported VA will sever ties with government contractor FedBid after it engaged in a character assassination scheme against a VA procurement official.

The VA procurement official put a stop on certain reverse bid contracts with FedBid due to concerns about the company. FedBid proceeded to enlist help from another senior VA official, Susan Taylor, to help with the scheme. Taylor was caught leaking nonpublic information to help the contractor gain an edge and pushed the company when possible. When the scandal surfaced, Taylor was allowed to resign and retire after a failed attempt to find work in a different federal agency.

VA will now use a similar product owned by GSA to provide reverse auctions at no cost.

Read More: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/nov/20/va-cuts-ties-to-reverse-auction-contractor-fedbid-/

 

FIRING OF VA DIRECTOR UPHELD AS A FIRST UNDER NEW LAW

Central Alabama VA director James Talton was fired in October for misconduct under the new law passed by Congress earlier this year. Talton appealed the decision, but his appeal was denied.

How appropriate it is when you read that VA directors fired for misconduct have to deal with denials of their own? I call that ‘magic’.

Talon received the 2012 Hospital Heroes Award. A few months later, he failed to take any action after reports surfaced that a VA employee used VA money to buy crack cocaine for a patient in a drug treatment program.

According to the Sun Herald:

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson told the board that Talton’s “misconduct has contributed to the public’s lack of trust that the VA can fulfill its mission to care for veterans.”

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby of Montgomery, who has repeatedly called for leadership changes at the Central Alabama VA, said Thursday that instilling accountability requires more than just firing Talton.

“Responsibility for the misconduct, negligence and systemic fraud at the Central Alabama VA doesn’t rest with one person. I don’t expect the director to be the last one fired, nor should he be,” said the Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Read More: http://www.sunherald.com/2014/11/22/5929525/firing-of-central-alabama-va-director.html

 

HOW TO AVOID STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS PITFALLS

Veterans with a 100% disability rating are eligible for federal student loan forgiveness. That much is known, but what is lesser known is that sometimes banks fail to accurately communicate information about the forgiveness to credit bureaus. This lack of accuracy can result in all kinds of problems with credit scores later.

Here are a couple quick tips to help you avoid pitfalls after getting your student loans forgiven.

  1. Check your credit score to be sure the debt is properly removed. Federal loans taken out before 2010 my have additional hang-ups. These loans require the lender to contact the credit bureau about the discharge directly. Again, check your credit score to be sure all the details are correctly sorted out.
  2. If there is a problem, be sure to contact the lender and the credit bureaus right away to get the matter cleared up. Be sure to keep records of the discharge to help speed up any correction you seek.

Read More: http://www.loansafe.org/veterans-take-advantage-of-student-loan-forgiveness-but-dont-let-it-damage-your-credit

 

UPCOMING CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS

House Committee on Veterans Affairs

DEC 11, 2014

Evaluating Federal and Community Efforts to Eliminate Veteran Homelessness

DEC 10, 2014

A Review of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

DEC 9, 2014

Timeless Honor: Reviewing Current Operations of our National Cemeteries

DEC 4, 2014

An Examination of Waste Associated with VA’s Management of Land-Use Agreements

Stay informed on VA news, scandals and benefits. Get our daily newsletter via email.

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14 Comments

  1. I live in a medical marijuana state. Last year I HAD to sign an agreement with my primary care doctor that I would not use medical marijuana or the VAMC would cut off giving me pain killers which I need for my service connected injury. However, medical marijuana would definitely help me with my PTSD as several veterans I know use it for that reason. The thing is that you never know when the VAMC will surprise you with a piss test, which happened to me two years ago, if they vaguely suspect anything about you. However, I have never given them any reason to suspect a thing about me but they tested me anyway. They didn’t find anything in my urine that they didn’t prescribe to me and I was able to dodge that bullet. I do know that the younger breed of doctors want to prescribe MM but their hands are tied as well. It’s going to get harder and harder for the VA to prevent many disabled veterans from using it as it has now gone recreational. The VA is fighting it because of their huge financial attachment and backroom deals with Big Pharm.

  2. I need to know the DIFFERENCE between MEDICAL pot and GET HIGH pot. Back in the 60s I medicated myself daily with “ILLEGAL” pot for as many different REASONS as one could come up with. Shortly after a 15 month tour in BEAUTIFUL Viet Nam, I ceased to use the stuff. The reason, too much MONEY, not enough HIGH.
    I truly can not see the MEDICINAL value of pot, but then I am not a physician. Does the THC still alter your state of mind , or does it now know not to mess with your mind and go STRAIGHT to the ailment ? If we have that KIND of TECHNOLOGY, let us use it on SOME of our more PRESSING ISSUES( Global warming, POVERTY, Wars, Nuclear Proliferation, etc.) Not to be too CYNICAL, but pot is still pot, legal or illegal, medicinal or recreational.

    • As a veteran who has taken morphine and hydrophone for 3 decades, I have been able to stop taking these liver and kidney killers by the use of MM. Believe what you will, just pissing away your time with uninformed opinions seems good too! Every VA Doctor that I have had has told me to try it. I wish I had years ago. Now I deal with a plethora of liver and kidney problems from these wonderful Big Farma pills.

    • There is none. THC being the operative ingredient. I spent two+ years in Thailand, and my considered opinion is that the use of pot has no benefits for the majority of users. The one thing that you’re not hearing is that if cigarettes are killing people, so will pot.

      • Thats why many people opt to vaporize the herb or eat an infused edible. And as far as medical use, if you not a doctor or conducting unbiased medical research i would suggest you stay clear from making statements based on your emotions and or outdated personal biased opinions.

      • Essayons: Is that why your personal bias shines so brightly. Read my statement above about what I personally saw and lived. So go eat your mushrooms and keep your “unbiased” (lmfao) opinions to yourself, or tell us your life experiences that tell us how “fkin” harmless the stuff is.

      • Yes i read your statement KURT! I also noted how you answered Mr. Vernon’s question with “no” and “The one thing that you’re not hearing is that if cigarettes are killing people, so will pot”….based on your considered opinion. As far as my personal bias shining…….all i said was that some people opt to vaporize or eat marijuana in rebuttal to your statement that it causes CANCER like cigarettes do. Get your head out of your 4th point of contact!!!!!!…MSGT(RET)!!

  3. Until the Law Makers and Congress “CHANGE THE MEDICAL MARIJUANA” FEDERAL LAWS any Veteran CANNOT use Marijuana and that is NOT likely to happen anytime soon. The Veterans Administration “IS” a Federal Hospital Facility .. “STILL”!!

    To ‘Disabled Navy Veteran’: I am off of the “pain killer list” (mine was Morphine) but .. the V.A. still gives “ALL” Veterans at the Veterans treated at Administration Hospital Facilities, whether they are on Narcotics or Not,
    “RANDOM URINE TESTS”!! .. and .. RANDOM BLOOD TESTS”!! .. BOTH!Yes, you are correct in saying that the V.A. “WILL” cut your pain meds off!

    You are also 110% Correct that the V. A. Does have too much to lose with the Pharmacies and other People that SELL them the MEDS. that we Veterans use. The V.A. DOES NOT ALLOW DR.’s, P.A.’s. or NURSES to even suggest that Marijuana to any Patient.

  4. Congratulations Oregon, Alaska, DC, Guam and Portland-Maine….even Florida got 58% of the vote, California voted to lower penalties on ALL drugs, and NYC is ending marijuana arrests…..

    Marijuana is Dominating, Freedom is Winning

    AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!!

    • What an illuminating philosophy…but what do you say to the hundreds of thousands who are introduced to other drugs and become addicted, kill and rob others, enslave children, sell women, ad infinitum. My experience (real) deals with the introduction of opium, cocaine, and poisons to sticks of Thai Buddha. Of seeing and meeting women sold into prostitution and children of less than ten years of age addicted and used for the sex trade because of introduction to “guncha”. I believe in freedom and am more than willing to die for it, but introducing teens to a stupefying drug is not freedom, it’s slavery.

      Have a nice day..

  5. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I suffer from P.T.S.D., Migrains and my nerves were shot, Have a bad back. Legal here and I took my medical authorization to the V.A. and had them copy it and I no longer take all the pain RX and I fill a whole lot better and I no longer use Alcohol at all. I am able to get my rest, I do not get mad. It is a win win sulation. We are adults and if some decide to use harder drugs that is their bad. MJ there is no overdose and most people become passive and do not go out looking for fights. My daughter’s noy friend got her hooked on Herion and that has distroyed her life and her families lives and the only thing I can do is pray to god, to keep her safe, until the day she can relize what it doing to her and her family. She is now homeless, we have her children and the courts told her she can not come arround here at all. She states she is no longer using, but she will have to prove it to the courts and most of all she has to ask for help and follow through. My heart is broken and I pray for the day I can have my Daughter back drug free. Hard drugs are the schurge of America and will be it down fall, if nothing is done. Family Services told us they would help her and they lied and let her spiral out of control and I am just waiting for someone to call me and tell me they have found her deceased. Sad but true. I ask you all to pray for her. Stephanie

  6. To continue my story I went to the lab at the VAMC in January for what was just supposed to only be a blood draw for an A1C test which is for diabetes. While I was there they surprisingly requested urine for a drug screening in which I had to do. Since they give me Vicodin I was targeted. They didn’t find a fucking thing in me except for Valium in which my mental health therapist has me on. Subsequently I HAD to see my primary care doctor for consultation on Vicodin and sign yet ANOTHER agreement on not using MM even though I live in a MM state. This constant harassment for my urine is getting ridiculous and I have contacted my elected reps but calling them and complaining is useless. It’s like taking a piss in the wind.

  7. Big Pharm’s patient’s dumb enough to take their liver and kidney killers are all dying; and they are getting desperate now.

    RELAX, and smoke one! Peace.

  8. its very simple, the people have spoken and All they need to do is change the law. How many thousands are in jail for smoking a joint, People I seen smoke are passive and I have never seen anyone overdose. Now you look at people who drink, its just the reverse. Liquid courage, After a few drinks they become invincible and after a few more become dangerous, Not to mention the hang overs, liver problems, DUI and deaths on the road.

    They may take away the pain medication if you smoke and those that don’t want to give up all those pills don’t smoke. I know many veterans who use MJ instead of pain pills and are thriving. It help them relax, some veterans forget how to relax and that effects their psychic and are always in a bad mood, can’t even laugh or see the humor in things.

    In the old days the government showed people acting crazy and out of their minds, that is not MJ, that’s PCP or something else and they only did that to keep funding for the FBI, You know almost every elected official has tried MJ, but will not admit it, because of the current law.

    Hell bring the president and putin togather and let them smoke a good joint and by the end of the meeting they will laugh and say why are we fighting anyway and the world would be better off and the food industry would have to hire thousands of new workers.

    Just change the law, the Alcohol company will fight it, they would rather see people drinking and fighting, children seeing their mother being beaten up or you. Liquid courage is not real courage it’s a drug that kills people.

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