On April 17, VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie visited the National Safety Council’s “Prescribed to Death” opioid memorial and recorded this video message

I’m Robert Wilkie. I’m visiting the National Safety Council’s “Prescribed to Death” opioid memorial. The memorial is currently located here at the White House. It’s part of President Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.

Inside, 22,000 faces are engraved on small, white pills. Each symbolizes the tragic story of an American lost to prescription opioid overdose.

Some are Veterans…Veterans who defended this nation with courage and honor.

Many Veterans have survived serious battlefield wounds. And some endure pain for months, for years, and even for the rest of their lives. In fact, nearly 60 percent who served in the Middle East, and more than 50 percent of older Veterans, live with some form of chronic pain. And we have to provide them – and all Americans – safe, effective pain management that lets them live fulfilling lives.

For more than a decade now, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been doing just that.

  • In just the last four years, we’ve reduced opioid use by over 41 percent among Veterans we serve.
  • We’ve established evidence-based, collaborative approaches – ways to manage pain more safely and effectively, while minimizing reliance on opioids.
  • We’re improving the effectiveness of our pain management teams and expanding treatment options at every facility.
  • We’re coordinating with community care providers to ensure prescriptions are managed as safely as possible.
  • We’ve issued the lifesaving drug Naloxone to over 100,000 Veterans to help prevent tragedies.
  • Our Opioid Therapy Risk Report provides detailed information on risk factors and helps clinicians design effective pain management treatment plans.
  • And we’re bringing the power of big-data analytics to bear, as well.

VA’s Stratification Tool for Opioid Risk Mitigation – STORM, for short – puts predictive analytics in the hands of providers. STORM estimates overdose or suicide risk among Veterans using or considering opioid therapy. And it offers risk-reduction interventions and non-opioid options. VA clinicians are giving extra attention to Veterans at risk of tragic outcomes.

Treating pain is complex. But as President Trump said, “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”

He’s right. And VA’s helping lead the way.

Thank you, and God bless our Veterans and service members.


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Published on Apr. 17, 2018

Estimated reading time is 2 min.

Views to date: 151


  1. Dale K April 24, 2018 at 1:22 am

    As a chronic pain sufferer I use opioids daily to let me have a normal or semi-normal life. I also use as much natural stuff as I can. I agree with the posts about politicians trying to save the dead and forgetting about those of us living. It seems like they are hunting butterflies with a sledge hammer.

  2. Roger Howard April 22, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    If not for the Methadone lobby we would be realizing an actual successful cure instead of the same old 5% success rate. There are funds available to get addicts off Opioids and onto Methadone, but no funds to get them off the Methadone. In 2011 there were 42 clinics under Dr. Kishore operating in MA. His success rates went as high as 60%. When they shut down his clinics, he was arrested, stripped of his medical license and thrown in jail – thousands died in MA. Follow the money. When the Documentary “Hero in America” comes out, so will the truth. Check out thedrugmovie.com or read about it at chalcedon.edu. I didn’t make links to click on because they probably aren’t allowed. Raise Cain my Brothers and Sisters.

  3. Richard B. Stahl April 20, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Everyone should keep in mind that some people use Opioids for real, legitimate pain issues. They do not abuse them. They rely on them to help them keep some quality of life when they are suffering with horrible pain that they know they will have for the rest of their lives. It often comes down to pills or suicide. Don`t poo poo their pain. Your whole understanding of pain is based solely on the worst pain you`ve ever personally felt. They really can`t understand what it means to then have that pain for the rest of your life. No breaks, no vacations. There is nothing you can do. The pain is there and will always be there. Every second of every day, forever. Abusing prescription drugs is a serious problem, but don`t forget the people that use them because they really have no choice. Don`t minimize them!

  4. Richard G Kensinger April 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I am a clinical psychologist and a former AF medic during the Vietnam conflict. I’ve treated my comrades for physical and psychosocial trauma. In my experience the latter is more challenging. This is especially valid for those repeatedly engaged in combat and killing. There is a book out that I’ve read called “Killing Ghosts”. From a psychologist’s perspective it could be renamed “Haunted by Ghosts”. I see lots of unresolved grief and utilize re-grief therapy. And I find group therapy to be more potent than individual.
    Rich, MSW

  5. Michael Oliver April 20, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Anything has the potential to have the negative after/side effects outweigh the benefits given. “Natural medicine” (often OTC;over the counter) has the potential in any case to have more benefits than the opposite. Relatively new to this mix of above discussed “drugs” is the (legal today) CBD extracts which optimally contain no psychoactive components like their fraternal twin Cannabis but which may exhibit multiple pain-relieving attributes. Ironically, under Prop. 215 (1995) State of California, “anybody with a Doctor’s recommend” can import into their state; these substances and thru the USPS. How does one attain the “Doctor’s recommend”? Search the Google option for such professionals and you’ll find them. Many offer a long-distance consult based upon one’s medical record. Russ Taylor (above) has found relief in such a substance (natural meds) and thanks Russ for your testimony.

  6. Richard Ramirez April 20, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I have been taking opioids for many years now. I have not overdosed in all those years because I take the amount the Dr. ordered. Because others overdose, the V.A wants to stop mine. What is up with that V.A

  7. Dan wedle April 19, 2018 at 6:47 am

    While they pat themselves on the back for taking away needed medicine for proven, documented pain patients, their quality of life goes down. I want to see when these people need pain management in the form of a medicine is replaced by someone trying to talk them out of their pain. They are so concerned with the dead they are ignoring the living and what they go through 24/7. They consider themselves some kind of hero’s, but they are just another unnecessary obstacle. Most people don’t need someone telling them how to live their lives. Control has been taken away from us because of addicts and people who dictate how everyone should conduct their lives to satisfy their way of thinking. Without knowing what the other half has to put up with. The know-it-all’s time will come when they will regret their decisions when they or someone they care about has to endure agonising never ending pain.

    • Hillary Cram April 20, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you. Well stated. Your description describes exactly what happened to my husband.

    • Teresa Rogers April 23, 2018 at 3:13 am

      I so agree. After so many surgeries on my legs I can’t count any more. Shoulder, back ankle and every joint due to osteoarthritis and MS I would have no quality of life. Barely have it with meds. I don’t abuse my meds and never have but because of addicts and those that do I wish you to spend one day in this body of mine with no
      Medication. Pat yourself on the back Trump.

  8. Barry Payne April 18, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    I have taken opioids for my back since 1996 during the service. I started at 1/2 per day and post retirement working at another job very labor intensive I was taking 6 per day. I am now retired because of that job (they drive little trucks and deliver letters, but I dealt with heavy bulk mail) and now have nerve damage along with the other problems. Some days I literally was dragging my right leg around. Now retired, I am down to 2 or 3 per day. I take 1/2 at a time. You have to deal with some pain, don’t use opioids to try to eliminate the pain or you will overdose. I also don’t drink or smoke but I know long term opioid use will cut some years off my life. I would rather take the minimum amount and deal with some of the pain rather than take too much and die from overdose or live in a wheelchair from a surgery gone wrong.

  9. Larry w carney sr April 18, 2018 at 9:31 am


  10. Michael Bice April 17, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    It would have been nice if we would have been told that they where cutting our perscriptions in have. My primary care physician and her nurse warned me about it or I would have taken the same amount I nomally took. I have often thought how many veterans oded because they were not told?

  11. Russ Taylor April 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    I’m 76 next month and for pain I daily use two doses of 1,160 mg Tumeric extract combined with 5mg black pepper extract. One @ breakfast & 1 @ lunch.
    I don’t take Aleve anymore.

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