Earlier this month, at Fayetteville Technical Community College, myself, other elected officials and leaders from Fort Bragg, the Defense Health Agency, the Department of Veteran Affairs and civilian health care systems met with Senator Thom Tillis to discuss opioid-treatment in our district.
Tillis said the military, VA and civilian healthcare systems can learn from each other while battling opioid misuse. He said the roundtable was meant to share best practices and discuss what is left to be done to address the opioid crisis.
He said the roundtable was the start of what he hoped would become a larger and longer dialogue.
There is hope, however, in how the military and veteran communities have tackled the issue of opioid misuse.
He credited Department of Defense and VA policies that circumvent misuse by deemphasizing opioids and focusing on lifestyle improvements and nonpharmacological approaches.
But civilian doctors said those efforts face additional challenges outside of VA and military hospitals.
But in recent years, the Fayetteville VA has become a national leader in decreasing the rate of opioids prescribed and advancing alternative treatments, said retired Col. James Laterza, the Fayetteville VA director.
Today, doctors at the Fayetteville VA offer alternative therapies to treat pain before they prescribe pills. They offer chiropractors, acupuncture, aquatic therapy and more.
Cape Fear Valley, the VA and Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg have a tremendous amount of collaboration. And they are in active conversations about further sharing resources to expand pediatric and trauma care.
Tillis praised myself and the rest of the North Carolina General Assembly for passing the STOP Act last year. The legislation limits the amount of opioid-based pain medication that can be legally prescribed.