'Disposable Heroes': Veterans Used To Test Suicide-Linked Drugs
An ABC News and Washington Times Investigation Reveals Vets Are Being Recruited for Government Tests on Drugs with Violent Side Effects
By BRIAN ROSS and VIC WALTER
June 17, 2008
Mentally distressed veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are being recruited for government tests on pharmaceutical drugs linked to suicide and other violent side effects, an investigation by ABC News and The Washington Times has found.
Mentally distressed veterans are recruited for questionable drug trial.
The report will air on Good Morning America and will also appear in The Washington Times on Tues on Good Morning America and in the Washington Times.
In one of the human experiments, involving the anti-smoking drug Chantix, Veterans Administration doctors waited more than three months before warning veterans about the possible serious side effects, including suicide and neuropsychiatric behavior.
"Lab rat, guinea pig, disposable hero," said former US Army sniper James Elliott in describing how he felt he was betrayed by the Veterans Administration.
Elliott, 38, of suburban Washington, D.C., was recruited, at $30 a month, for the Chantix anti-smoking study three years after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He served a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq from 2003-2004.
Months after he began taking the drug, Elliott suffered a mental breakdown, experiencing a relapse of Iraq combat nightmares he blames on Chantix.
"They never told me that I was going to be suicidal, that I would cease sleeping. They never told me anything except this will help me quit smoking," Elliott told ABC News and The Washington Times.
On the night of February 5th, after consuming a few beers, Elliott says he "snapped" and left his home with a loaded gun.
His fiancee, Tammy, called police and warned, "He's extremely unstable. He has PTSD."
"Do you think that he is going to shoot or attack the police?" the 911 dispatcher asked.
"I can't be certain. I don't know," she said.
"He was operating as if he was back in theater, in combat theater," she told ABC News. "And of course, a soldier goes nowhere without a gun."
When police arrived, they found Elliott in the street, with the gun in the front pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.
"Are you going to shoot me? Shoot me," Elliott said, according to the police report.
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