Jan Stowe, a Vietnam War veteran from Traverse City, Mich., says she was unable to move her head and neck for several days last month after going without medication to treat extreme muscle spasms.
Stowe, a Department of Veterans Affairs patient who receives her medication through the U.S. Postal Service, said in an interview with States Newsroom that she missed four or five days taking her prescription for diazepam, commonly marketed as Valium, because of mail delays.
Without the drug, her movement was restricted, and she started experiencing withdrawal symptoms, she said. It wasn’t life-threatening, she said, “but it was life-altering.”
“It’s not life-saving,” she added. “It’s not like insulin, or heart medication or anything like that. But it was just extremely frustrating and uncomfortable.”
Stowe is not alone. Veterans, people who require specialty medications, rural residents far from pharmacies and others who receive their prescription medications through the Postal Service say they have experienced delays and other delivery disruptions after the Trump administration made changes to post office operations.
The anecdotes have added fuel to Democrats’ criticism of a Postal Service overhaul they say is to blame, and involve a key group that President Donald Trump has worked to court throughout his presidency — veterans, who rely heavily on the mail for their medications.
The Postal Service has removed sorting machines and other infrastructure from post offices and limited postal workers’ hours since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy joined the agency in June. DeJoy has said removal of sorting machines was underway before he joined the government and has disputed that he’s limited overtime hours. A July memo to all Postal Service employees, though, restricts extra trips to ensure on-time delivery.
DeJoy has also rebutted allegations that he’s acting at the behest of President Donald Trump to deliberately sabotage the upcoming elections.
There is little indication prescription delivery problems are widespread. The VA said its average shipping time in July was about 2.9 days, up from 2.3 days the previous month — a 25% increase but still within the three to five days the VA aims at for delivery. The country’s major pharmacies and shippers of prescription drugs haven’t complained about late deliveries.
But there is at least anecdotal evidence that patients like Stowe who depend on the mail for prescription medication are seeing delays, and it’s stressful even for those who’ve not missed doses. The VA has told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that the Detroit area, along with parts of New York and New Jersey, are hotspots for prescription delivery problems, according to the VFW spokesman Terrence Hayes. Read more