There is a mental health epidemic in our midst and it is happening to some of our best people.

While the United States government continues its eternally self-defeating War on Drugs, the Veterans Administration (VA) is producing junkies at an exponential rate. But the drugs they are taking are legal. And one side-effect doesn’t last long because you won’t be around to suffer – its suicide. No surprise is that one veteran commits suicide every hour, this according to the VA.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the number one affliction affecting our nation’s Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans. And after rotating countless patients through every single antidepressant and antianxiety medication that modern psychiatry has to offer, the VA says they have a cure.

The VA believes the most successful medication prescribed for combat PTSD is the benzodiazepine. A class that includes Xanex, Valium, Klonopin, and Adavan.

The methodology the VA used to discover this was simple but effective – the drug(s) with the least side-effects wins. That’s the VA’s pseudo-psychiatry cure for PTSD. The results can get scrambled, however, as some patients can no longer clearly communicate which side effects they are experiencing.

But benzodiazepines are no panacea for combat PTSD. Any sensible medical professional will tell you not to take or prescribe benzodiazepines for more than a few weeks as they are highly addictive. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can literally kill you. Or make you want to kill yourself so to end the pain. Take my word for it.

But the VA is not limiting the time veterans are prescribed benzodiazepines, as I have learned through observation of other veterans and through myself, a veteran with PTSD following my time in Iraq as an intelligence specialist. It is extremely common for veterans to be put on a benzo and kept on it. Most are told to take one pill, average dose between .5 mg and 1 mg, two or three times a day. Unfortunately I have heard of drug dealers with better sense of responsibility for their customers than that.

Let me spell this out for you. People who take benzodiazepines cannot legally drive, operate heavy machinery, sign legal contracts, or use or carry firearms. Performing most of these actions would result in a prison sentence. Again, the patients are only following doctor’s orders.

What is painfully clear is that the VA still needs more time, more money, more trial studies, to truly know whether benzodiazepines can beat PTSD, and then whether a veteran or anyone for that matter, can beat benzodiazepines.

But veterans need help now. So the VA – perhaps out of desperation – keeps pushing benzodiazepines. Part of their desperation is the result of pressure from our elected officials and other bureaucrats who panic when the media and the public start demanding action and any action, even if it’s not up to task. Psychiatry is such an imperfect science, which only becomes more flawed when the government is dishing out the drugs.

The dilemma of the legally-addicted veteran with PTSD takes another twist when you consider that some VA doctors will cut all VA benefits if a veteran were to fail a drug test. I have witnessed veterans denied their medications for smoking marijuana. Consider that in Colorado, where weed is now legal even recreational use, a VA doctor will deny a veteran her or his benefits even if the veteran has a doctor’s approval for medicinal use!

Listen to your veteran: “No veteran should have to risk benefits or feel stigmatized when they use medical marijuana,” said Iraq war veteran Sean Azzariti of Denver, who’s trying to amend the state law. “It saved my life and I truly believe that every veteran should have that choice of medication.”

When you are cut-off from your benzos or antidepressants it’s called Discontinuation Syndrome, which can create a highly unstable individual, and in the case of so many veterans, those with previous combat training and combat experience.

Sounds like Russian Roulette to me. Also sounds like a huge payday from the VA to Big Pharma. But because the advocates of marijuana don’t have Big Pharma’s

money and influence in Washington or at the VA, the hippies with the natural cure for PTSD sit on the sidelines pleading that their illegal drug is actually the right med to take.

Personally, as someone who spent 15 months in Iraq and in constant fear of being blown to pieces, you are to blame for the homeless vets on the street with their cardboard signs proclaiming themselves homeless. You. Yes your personal fault. You have allowed your government to do this to the best and brightest, the only ones willing to risk their lives for you.

The VA needs to be stopped. Not next year, a few months from now, but right now. The destruction of an entire generation of intelligent, willing and hard-working Americans is at hand. I know this pain. I have dealt with PTSD since 2007. I am convinced it never ends. But I myself have seen peace and calm amidst the hurricane. It can be done. There just needs to be the will.