As the American Psychiatric Association commenced its annual convention on May 3 in Manhattan, featuring over 65 sessions on psychiatric diagnosis and treatment of military personnel, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) launched a petition requesting the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee to investigate with public hearings the role of psychiatric drugs in veteran suicides, sudden deaths and recent shootings at Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard.
The petition was released at the opening of an exhibit set up to expose the connection of psychiatric drugs to an alarming number of suicides and sudden deaths of service members and veterans. The exhibit centers around The Hidden Enemy: Inside Psychiatry’s Covert Agenda, a documentary which covers psychiatric drug abuse in the military and includes interviews with veterans brought to the brink of suicide after being prescribed cocktails of psychiatric drugs documented to cause violent and suicidal behavior. According to a New York Times article, "War on Drugs," of April 6, 2013, between 2005 and 2011 the military increased its prescriptions of psychoactive drugs (antipsychotics, sedatives, stimulants and mood stabilizers) by almost 700 percent.
Speaking at the exhibit opening where the petition was launched, former sergeant Hannis Latham, who served in the U.S. Army in the 1960s as a Green Beret on an “A” Team with the 10th Special Forces Group, stated: “Psychiatric drugs are that one thing that makes our modern warfare so much more deadly for our returning soldiers than any past war… Instead of creating recovery programs for returning vets where they are recognized as normal people who have been through a very abnormal experience, our vets are often prescribed antipsychotics, tranquilizers, and antidepressants and told to suck it up and pull it together.”
Retired Colonel John A. Henke, a clinical psychologist and highly decorated Air Force pilot who worked with the Pentagon, assigned to the Assistant Secretary of Defense Combat Readiness Study until his retirement in January 1982, echoed Latham’s remarks, stating: “Instead of helping veterans recover from war, their pain has been masked with potent drugs. These, including opioid painkillers and mind-altering psychiatric drugs, are feeding addictions and contributing to the fatal overdose rate among VA patients that is nearly double the national average.” Both Latham and Henke currently work with veterans to help them find better healthcare and other support.
CCHR International submitted a thorough report, “A Review of How Prescribed Psychiatric Medications could be Driving Members of the Armed Forces and Vets to Acts of Violence & Suicide” to a Senate VA Committee hearing into overmedication held April 30. The report is available at http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings/overmedication-problems-and-solutions.
CITIZENS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS is a nonprofit mental health watchdog established by the Church of Scientology and the late Dr. Thomas Szasz, professor emeritus of psychiatry at SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse to investigate psychiatric human rights abuses.