(Connecting Vets) - Veteran Boone Cutler is recounting his time at Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was given drugs for his injuries that he said would change his life for the worse.
In the third episode of “To War and Back,” journalist Phil Briggs dives right back into the stories of three veterans who have seen some of the worst that war has to offer. The podcast is a RADIO.COM Original, created in partnership with Connecting Vets.
The episode begins back with Cutler, who realized soon after beginning treatment that the medications he was given were doing terrible things to his body. “I used to sleep with a towel next to my bed because I knew invariably while I was asleep I was going to get sick. Later on, I realized I was overdosing,” explained Cutler.
Although he was being treated for both painful physical injuries and a heavy case of PTSD, the combination of painkillers and psychoactive drugs they prescribed – often called “The Combat Cocktail” – made him feel like a medicated zombie.
“Walter Reed was a chemical prison to a lot of people,” Cutler said. “I can understand if it's to take care of an immediate situation, but it really appeared to me like no one had any intention of weaning these guys off drugs. It was a matter of there [being> more injuries than there was care available.”
Cutler explained that after a year of being drugged into a never-ending haze, the hospital’s answer to the growing amount of PTSD patients created a new nightmare.
“Guys fell back into their military roles because they weren’t getting care fast enough. MPs were pulling security. Guys were sharing medications. That’s where I learned how to snort OxyContin to make it last longer to get relief,” Cutler explains.
And while Boone Cutler was fighting to stay alive at Walter Reed, Marine Corps veteran Scott Huesing is diving back into what it was like to deliver grim news to families of friends in combat. “Usually no news is good news for families back home,” he explains.
He continues, “If you don’t hear anything. Things are going fine. Just deal with it. That’s what families have to deal with. Can you imagine that?”
The episode reveals things about a veteran’s combat experience which are rarely discussed. And the episode ends with a glimpse at how much harder things can get after their military service is over.
RADIO.COM reached out Walter Reed for comment on the use of prescription pain medications at Walter Reed Medical Center. “As you may know, Walter Reed Army Medical Center was the U.S. Army's flagship medical center from 1909 until it closed in 2011,” said LTC Tracy Michael, the Director of Public Affairs at the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General.
“Army Medicine is very proud of the excellent quality of care we continue to provide to our Soldiers and their Families every day. However, we are unable to discuss a Veteran’s current or past medical care experiences,” Michael said.
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Follow Phil Briggs @philbriggsVet