WASHINGTON (Gray DC — Veterans across the country could soon be getting safer and more effective pain management, and it’s all thanks to a Wisconsin family who kept fighting after the death of their loved one.
The Simcakoski family is taking on Capitol Hill building a legacy for their Marine.
“It’s exciting. It makes us feel like he is still alive and a part of us. And I just know that he would be so honored to know that a part of him is going to live on forever,” said Heather Simcakoski. “Change is on the way, it takes time but it’s coming,” she said.
Jason Simcakoski died at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2014 from a toxic combination of prescription medications. His family says he was over-prescribed opiate drugs.
Jason’s mother tells us the future for her family is now linked to her son’s legacy -the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act.
The legislation will push the VA to track and monitor opioid use and notify health care providers if a patient has a history of abuse. VA doctors will get better training and a new commission will look at alternative treatments.
“It was a tough road and it’s still a tough road. I feel like Jason is telling me keep going don’t stop. And he was that type of guy. Very proud to be a marine,” said Linda Simcakoski.
Members of Congress say this bill is evidence of how Democracy is supposed to work – a family reaches out for help and changes are made that could impact veterans across the country.
“They have been very helpful as far as suggestions and input with the legislative process, helping build the bipartisan support around here,” said Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind.
Kind told us he can’t promise that this legislation is the perfect answer to the challenges that we are facing in our healthcare system, but be believes it is a significant step in the right direction.
“It’s all because of what we learned in the tragedy of Jason’s death,” said Kind.
Next the bill will head to the Senate where lawmakers are confident it will pass.
Senator Tammy Baldwin told us, “My goal is to put these reforms in place to prevent Jason’s tragedy from happening to other veterans and their families.”