Opioid scare run amok: VA won’t buy pain medication for Vietnam vet after leg amputation
Veteran Richard Howard (Photo: Screen capture from KATV video)

Vietnam veteran Richard Howard had an overproduction of red blood cells in the bones of his right leg. The problem created so many circulation problems his leg had to be amputated. While the Veterans Administration took care of Howard for the procedure, prosthetic and aftercare therapy, they won't pay for the prescription for his Oxycodone pills to stop his pain, KATV reports.

The opioid addiction has become so widespread both inside the veterans community and among non-veterans, that the Department of Health and Human Services reports over 650,000 opioid prescriptions are dispensed on a given day. According to a Frontline investigation, veterans are at a greater risk for addiction because they suffer greater cases of chronic pain.

That was little consolation to the 100 percent service-connected disabled vet, however, who just hoped his pain would stop. The northern Franklin county, Arkansas man explained he could understand if they sought to underprescribe out of caution, but to pay for nothing after 19 surgeries on his leg is a little absurd.

"But it's been a hard road (sigh)," admits Howard. Despite being sprayed "like cattle" with Agent Orange during the war, Howard describes the ordeal as the hardest of his life. Physical therapy begins this week for Howard, where he was expected to go through the excruciating process of learning to walk with his new prosthetic and without any pain medicine.

After reaching out to local news as well as Sen. Tom Cotton and Sen. John Bozeman's offices, Howard got a call from a nurse promising to get him some pain medicine.

"The nurse called and apologized this morning and said it was her fault," Howard explained.

He expects the pain medicine to arrive by Friday.

Check out the interview from KATV news below: