“It may not be good for everybody, but if it saves one veteran’s life, I don’t see why they have these restrictions,” says U.S. military veteran, Bosko Katic.
From 1975 to 1977, Bosko defended the Iron Curtain for the U.S. military in the 11th Army Cavalry Regiment 3rd Squadron. His group was responsible for patrolling and monitoring enemy movement on the Iron Curtain and protecting West Germany from Soviet invasion.
However, during his time in military, Bosko also endured extensive mental and physical damages. Bosko says, “We called our unit the ‘Suicidal Delay Force’ because we were expected to be overrun if they did ever come through the Fulda Gap.”
Since returning home, Bosko has undergone 41 surgeries. At least half of which he says are service related. In fact, he’s had 18 surgeries on his left knee alone. In addition to surgeries, Bosko also suffers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, neck and back injuries. Bosko says, “I’m 100 percent service connected, and you’d think the VA would have taken care of most of them. But some of the stories I have to say about the VA are horror stories.”
Bosko says filling his prescriptions at the Veterans Administration (VA) pharmacies became increasingly difficult after the Center for Disease Control updated their opioid prescription guidelines. At first, “the doctor would write out a prescription for what he thought was an adequate amount… I would take it to the pharmacist at the VA and the VA pharmacist would refuse to fill it.” But as time went on, his prescriptions became even harder to fill. Bosko eventually ended up leaving the care of the VA.
He now uses a pain management specialist named Dr. Holper in Las Vegas. Bosko says “Dr. Holper is a wonderful man, a lot of compassion. He cares about his patients. Went through his own ordeal. He understands pain and what it feels like.” However, even with his new pain management doctor, Bosko says he still feels pressure from the opioid guideline changes. Dr. Holper has decided to gradually reduce his doses. He says he’s been cut more than half by now. “I keep getting reduced gradually. This is alarming.”
Bosko has been taking opioid pain medication for his ailments since the 1980s. He says without the medications he wouldn’t be able to make it out bed in the morning. Bosko says, “It’s improved my quality of life… I could function.”
To offset the changes to his medications, Bosko has been exploring alternative medications for his pain, such as medical marijuana. However, the VA has told him that they will not help him medically, while he has cannabis in his system. The VA doesn’t pay for treatment outside of their network and they’ve told Bosko that they won’t allow him back if he continues to use it.
Bosko says he understands that some people abuse prescription opioid medications but believes that the people who use their medication properly are the ones who truly suffer from these regulations.