Paul Fielder, a Vietnam veteran admits that he drank bourbon for nearly 12 years in order to alleviate his chronic lower back pain.
Due to the fact that his career as a machinist was not physically demanding, his doctors have linked his chronic back pain to his time serving. During his active service he was jumping 10 to 15 feet from helicopters to the ground nearly six times per day. Fielder did this throughout his service which lasted from 1969 to 1970.
Although it had become a bad habit, Fielder shares that since his Department of Veterans Affairs doctor began prescribing him Vicodin, he has not had a drop of alcohol for nearly three years.
At 71-years-old, Fielder says he takes at least three pills throughout the course of his day to simply function.
However the VA is set out to change Fielder's usual routine. The VA has made the argument that there is a growing amount of veterans who are addicted to opioid-based medications and are taking far more than they need and even mistakenly overdosing.
“I worry about it because it’s a hell of a shock,” Fielder said. “I’m not addicted but I have a certain pattern of life that these medicines, even though they are a narcotic, give me. When they cut me down, I tried two a day and I was not able to get out of the Lazy Boy.”
It was in April that the VA cut Fielder's 120-pill monthly prescription in half to 60 pills.
Kevin Kelsheimer is the St.Joseph County veterans service officer and has admitted that since the change took place, he has been contacted daily by veterans for help.
“I’m hearing it quite a bit,” Kelsheimer said. “We have Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans coming home and some of them have back and shoulder pain from getting hit by (Improvised Explosive Devices). They’ve been on these pain medications for five years and now they’re being told they’re being taken off, and the VA is not giving them any kind of substitute medicine for the pain.”
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