Just What Veteran ‘Research’ Goes On At Yale Affiliated West Haven VA?

West Haven VA

Benjamin KrauseLately, I have heard one report after another of doctors at Yale affiliated West Haven VA conducting a variety of ‘research’ on veterans. Some consider this research to be nothing more than the infamous VA experimentation of old.

I for one have grown sick of the American public dismissing claims by veterans and their families that VA doctors conduct experiments on veterans. It is a proven fact that VA doctors conducted experiments on veterans. Now, they call it ‘research.’

The purpose of this article is to set out the function of part of VA’s research arm so veterans can identify if problems at the West Haven VA they experienced may be connected with experimentation of some kind.

Here is a little background on VA experiments. Wall Street Journal did a great job encapsulating the heartache and tribulation caused by such experiments in its piece on lobotomy experiments VA conducted for years on veterans in the 50’s.

Related research was institutionalized and Congressionally sanctioned through Non-Profit Corporations (NPCs) VA has created over the past 30 years nationwide. These research corporations are found under the umbrella of the National Association of Veterans’ Research and Education Foundations (NAVREF). These NPC’s can oversee research including pharmaceutical trials.

RELATED: Learn about NAVREF ‘research’ history with Congressional support

The NPCs provide better oversight and “flexible funding mechanisms” for ‘research’ on veterans funded by numerous governmental and nongovernmental organizations. According to the NAVREF “About” page:

“This statute, later codified at 38 USC § 7361et seq., allowed the VA secretary to authorize the establishment of nonprofit institutions to serve as a “flexible funding mechanism” [38 U.S.C. 7362(a)] for the conduct of VA research at each medical center.”

NPC’s are all affiliated with VA Medical Centers across the country and are headed by the VA leaders at each facility – like a redundant VA. It makes me wonder why they created such a redundancy until I pondered what the statement meant by “flexible funding mechanism”.

Why not just do the research at the VA under normal VA controls? What do you think NPC’s do that requires a separate entity? Do these separate entities have the same reporting requirements to Congress or FOIA? What entities needed a flexible funding mechanism?

According to the most recent annual numbers from NAVREF (2010) these are some of the top nongovernmental donors:

Given that history and the recent reports on West Haven VA, I thought it would be a good time to see exactly what West Haven publicly claims it does. For those of you curious, you do not need to look further than an obscure webpage on West Haven VA’s website simply titled “Research.”

Here is what VA says West Haven VA does publicly on its website. I am personally curious about how the NPC interrelates with its own research. Below, I hyperlinked some of these so you can see exactly what they are doing.

“VA Connecticut conducts research in psychiatry, medicine, surgery, neurology and related basic sciences. National Veterans Health Administration programs located at VA Connecticut include the following:

The facility also has numerous specialized programs at the facility:

“VA Connecticut has several specialized programs that are recognized nationally and regionally as the best offered in the Department of Veterans Affairs. These include the Eastern Blind Rehabilitation Center, the Single PhotoEmission Computer Tomography (SPECT) – which provides state of the art imaging for medical care and research in biology, psychiatry, cardiology and oncology – and the VA/Yale Center for Neuroscience and Nerve Regeneration.

“Additionally, the Clinical Center for Excellence for Dialysis is the only veteran’s dialysis center in Connecticut. VA Connecticut is also designated a Clinical Program of Excellence for Seriously and Chronically Mentally Ill veterans.”

Source: https://www.connecticut.va.gov/services/Research.asp

Here is one interesting program that reminds me of the Tomah VA opiate-gate currently going on:

Now take a quick look at the Cooperative Studies Program and what the program pulls together.

No one is against medical advances, but what happens when one of these programs goes wrong? Can we trust VA will do the ethical thing and inform veterans when they are harmed by a mistake?

That is my biggest concern. And given the rate at which veterans are complaining about treatment at West Haven VA, I am certainly concerned.

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  1. I am a Vietnam incountry vet, Army NCO retiree, and VA Vet Center clinician retiree. I worked in the area of West Haven, CT and am familar with West Haven VA Medical Center in CT. The “research” is nothing more than medical students submitting papers to their teachers for grades. Remember, every VA Medical Center has a nearby medical school where medical students get to “practice” on Veterans. (This is why they call it a “practice” — sometimes spelled “practise”. Also remember, most medical students are not Veterans, because the US armed forces send their best and brightest to the DOD medical school in Washington, DC. where they get “real” supervision from real military doctors. And remember, most civilian medical students at VA medical centers are from foreign countries and can barely speak English. How “supervised” the “research” is is up to interpretation. (Here’e that “is-is” thing again!) Example: Student X sees Veteran, goes to Medical Professor with a “theory”. Medical Professor says study it and report back. Most “studies” never get written up, and those that do are only as good as the communication skills of the author. (Yup, most authors were raised in third world countries, with no exposure to the American culture until they arrived here with an educational visa. Synical?, you betcha! — I’ve been in medical rounds and meetings as part of the health care “team”.

  2. i had a new shrink at va. first or second visit he wanted a particular blood test from me regarding lyme vs ms. i’m 100% SC for ms + spinal injury. i asked him why he couldn’t get the last results from the computer system. the multiple tests that show i’m lyme neg. he said to the effect it was too difficult to get to with computer security and that he had a new better test. he wanted his own blood sample for some research he was doing. he said i might have lyme disease vs ms. i said i already have been tested multiple times for lyme, check it out, it’s neg. i asked him to discuss it with my va neuro & pcp and let me see what they say. that didn’t go over well. we kinda got into it a little over this and he acted like he wouldn’t fill my med if i didn’t do the blood test. that was my interpretation mind you. i could be wrong on that. so no paperwork offered to protect me or anything. last time i saw him he asked about it again and mentioned the drug type therapy he was researching for ms. mind you, this is a shrink, not a neuro. so why all of a sudden this non-neuro guy and this test? is this a VA backdoor to find a way to say ms can’t be service connected now or something like that? i spoke with a world renowned ms center and they said they wouldn’t give such a drug to an animal much less a human. and that it would have no help for ms patients. and that that type of research was old. so why wouldn’t the VA MS Centers for Excellence not be sending out consent forms seeking veterans with MS for blood work study or something like that? and if MS wasn’t such an issue in mil and veteran population why have those centers for excellence?

    so why wasn’t my va neuro informed? why wouldn’t the va pcp discuss the issue with me when i brought it up. the VSO i was with at the time wouldn’t help with it either. so i haven’t taken a blood test there since.

    i wrote McDonald and Hickey about it. i’m all for research for helping veterans. but as you can see this was/is was suspect to me, the veteran and rightfully so. Doesn’t mean McDonald or Hickey will do anything about it but they have the paperwork on it.

    you see what’s going here, yes? you have to think from a veterans’ shoes to see it. the whole VA experience has turned my whole life upside down more times than i care to count.

  3. I served ” all Americans” plenty. Every and any time my personhood is used in any way shape or form for research I should be asked for expressed written consent … period.

  4. I have often wondered about above average incidence of Hep C among Vets . Also have met multiple Vets with Kidney Cancer as I myself had . It would be very interesting to see the numbers on these and other diagnosis , as compared to the rest of the population . I have always believed vets could be used as research subjects do to life long care at VA facilities . As our government has seen fit to do so repeatedly in it’s history . With fatal results . Like many other vets I use VA due to inability to pay for outside health care .I have also questioned the use of air gun inoculation of multiple vaccines to hundreds or thousands of service members . Multiple vaccines can over well the immune system .Also this type of inoculation can result in bleeding and possible cross contamination between soldiers .

  5. One correction. The National Center for PtSD is located at the White River Junction VMAC in Vermont. Interestingly enough, they are affiliated with Dartmouth College, another Ivy League school.

    1. The VA website said it is located at West Haven VA. In many instances, there are more than one affiliated institution with each national center. Perhaps they share the oversight?

  6. Ben, you comment; “Can we trust VA will do the ethical thing and inform veterans when they are harmed by a mistake?” I think your last blog on the Seattle VA paying out for a Veteran’s preventable death is proof that the VA will not do what is right and ethical. We are guinea pigs and they are allowed to test us as the govt. allows this to happen and always will. I have been given meds for my depression that have a known side effect that I have had a few times and I always ask about it because it sucks to get rid of the side effect (brain zaps) and my current “new” medicine has caused this even though I asked about this and had even saw it as a possible side effect for this med. I was told that this one does not have that side effect and after a week of taking it, I started to have those zaps. Anyone who has hade these know how bad they are and I am now down to a quarter of a pill every four days to try and get rid of them. I guess I am saying from my point of view is NO, we can’t trust the VA until it is completely redone to favor us vets and gets us the best care that we so deserve.

  7. Well, all this goes even deeper with the VA and their damn antiquated “Drug Formulary”, but yet the VA has “Partnered” with many of the Big Pharma Corps. trying to push not even released and approved RX’s by the FDA to be used on my brother at another State’s VA, at one of the “new proposed 5 VA Regional Districts”, the one in Indianapolis. My brother has been placed now on more than a dozen tried and failed antidepressants so far and now they are trying to tell him the pain he has from knee injuries should be treated with little staples placed in his ears instead of the pain RX he takes and he drew the line at that as he felt they were just throwing darts while blindfolded for his conditions.
    Now as far as my experiences, I was more than likely a “Test Lab Rat Veteran” but while enlisted and in USAF stationed firstly up in Northern Maine by one of the listed agencies Ben listed but it’s “greyed-out” with no way of looking at link called, “•National Virology Reference Laboratory”…(only speculating here), but when I had an appendectomy back in 1984 in one of my first enlistments of 6 years where I was DEATHLY SICK for a month post surgery and it was only through an on base Red Cross Blood Drive (have a rare blood type) two months later I was informed by Red Cross via Registered Mail in which that letter stated I either had been given Hep B tainted blood and/or a very unsterile surgical environment and to *immediately* see my Base Dr. Funny, that whole month of being sicker than ever post surgery and ALL the MANY and at the time I thought “Excessive Blood Work/Lab Work”, that NOBOBY even caught the Hepatitis B and a bit further down in time I unfortunately found out I had ALSO became infected with a very resistant strain of HIV…I AM TELLING THE TRUTH HERE! Interesting how the USAF Medical Dr’s never let me know that either until come forward to 2006 and come to find out I was/am considered a very slow progressor with the particularly highly resistant HIV strain.
    All I know is I had more of a fight with Social Security Admn. in acquiring my SSDI but since I documented everything while in USAF all those years, the VA did not fight my 100% Service Connected Claim *at all*, to even include the severe anxiety/PTSD from many other things from first part of ’90’s that occurred THEN there’s ALL the damn “extra” mobility air-gun shots given and tablets for supposedly to counter nerve agents and such for the Kuwait adventure in which MANY people that received all those “extra” mobility shots, even those that DID NOT DEPLOY to Kuwait, came down with what has now been called “Gulf War Syndrome” but yet the VA has even tried to minimize that and play their “Agent Orange Card” in trying to opt out of any responsibility and still are.
    So yes, I am sure these things go on from my not so great experiences that have each and every day I live now a mixed-bag of non-pleasantries regarding health and NO, I do not use the VAHS and just use Medicare and private Dr.’s, even though it would definitely cost me less just in meds alone if I used the VA but I have absolutely no reason to extend an ounce of trust with them at this point.
    The VA has enough trouble practicing good medicine let alone anything more current than a decade or even more ago and their Drug Formulary directly reflects this…UNLESS they want to use some med that has never seen the light of day by the FDA….run, do not walk from the VA, as your very life is at danger.
    100% Service Connected P&T by the very people I trusted with my life while protecting my USA.
    By the way, there’s more than speculation that experiments were done with experimental Hep B “inoculations” in which many of those same people also became HIV+ as well, as I have a fellow military buddy that lives in Idaho that experienced the exact same thing I did and the VA did NOT contest or fight his Svc. Connected Disability Claim either…almost like the VA was “expecting” us to eventually give them the results they were looking for. However, I am not dead and IF I had continued to use the VA my civilian Infectious Disease Dr. is SURE I would be pushing daisies in a cemetery long ago.
    Sad. Scary. Scary, because it’s true.
    I would trust a Haitian Witch Dr. with a bag of chicken bones and plethora of candles and Zombie Dust before ANY VA Witch Dr.!!!!!

    1. They did that same thing to me last year reducing pain Meds ,sent me to Accupunture ,she put metal things in my ears .I think someone has been watching to many TV Commercials ,you know that quack Piece of S–t from passages in Malibu,he states he used to be an Addict but now he is not,But he charges 100,000$ for 30 days at his addiction treatment centers what a joke

      1. Yeah, that $100,000. is probably to support his ongoing habit he keeps nicely tucked away and what that add no longer even states is it was that guy’s FATHER who started that clinic Passages at Malibu…keeping it all in the family.

        Yes, I think the VA watched way too many SHAM WOW info commercials and the staples in ear trick was a freebie IF YOU ACT NOW and CALL! LOL! On that note, we will probably later on hear that the VA was using rusty staples for such treatment and they came from supply closet. LOL!

  8. Every time a M.D gives you drugs (rat poison that kills your liver and kidneys), they are doing the same thing: experimenting or “practicing” medicine. The whole last generation has been mutilated with surgery, internal organs killed by drugs, and radiated/chemotherapathied to death (they killed J.R. Ewing!) The VA is more incompetent, but the the practice of MD in the last 100 years has gone solely for the money above all else. What is good for emergencies (Western medicine) is not the best, and even harmful in chronic diseases (as opposed to Eastern Medicine.) Try acupuncture instead of drugs for pain and other problems: the smart money (people, even M.D.’s are) is.

    1. You are correct Phil, to bad more people don’t realize this.

      Did you know that the THIRD largest killer in America is Medical Error?
      The problem is so bad congress formed a sub committee to investigate,
      1000 people a day die from preventable medical error. July 17, 2014

      Bernie Sanders is the Chair, and Al Franken is on the committee, Perhaps they
      would be willing to address this article. They sure have kept this committee out of the news.

      1. with due respect, isn’t Bernie Sanders “Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman”? that Bernie Sanders? not my kind of guy, and good luck getting any truthful answer/spin from him or his office regarding the VA. most of us veterans have written and called all these committee folks over the years pleading for assistance. most results i suspect have been nil, unless the help requested made it to some news outlet. may be this website will help? we can hope

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