Karie Fuget lost her husband, an American veteran, to opioid addiction. He felt so ashamed of his addiction that he did not seek out treatment. Fuget believes that the administration should address the shame and trauma that accompanies addiction to prevent more veterans from losing their lives.
How Did Cleve Fuget Develop an Opioid Addiction?
Cleve became addicted to opioids after being wounded during his second deployment to Iraq in April 2006 three months after his marriage to Karie. Cleve’s Humvee was hit by an IED which left with his leg amputated, PTSD and traumatic brain injury. The pain of his injuries and the stress of returning from war led Cleve to opioids. Cleve was greeted with parades and medals when he returned from service, but he still continued to suffer within.
How Come Cleve Fuget Did Not Seek Help?
Cleve came from a poor family and wanted to make a better life for himself and his family. He enlisted in the military since it came with insurance, decent pay, and free college. The Marine Corps would have random drug tests and was afraid of letting them know about his addiction in fear of losing his rank or being kicked out of the military. When he tried to seek help, doctors did not know how to treat him. Because Cleve was ashamed of his addiction, he isolated himself.
How Did Cleve Fuget’s Life Grow Worse During Addiction?
Cleve would get made fun of by his friends for his addiction symptoms. He would have holes in his shorts from burnt cigarettes. Cleve would constantly carry a towel with him to wipe the constant sweat from his face. He even physically hurt his wife. When Karie spoke to him about going to rehab, Cleve said he did not want to go because he was afraid he would lose everything. In 2012, Cleve overdosed at an inpatient facility for veterans with PTSD called Camp Victory and passed away.
What Needs to Be Done for Veterans with Addiction?
The military needs to ensure its veterans that no veteran’s job, rank, or benefits will be in jeopardy for suffering from addiction. Karie always wonders if her husband would still be alive if more resources were available. By addressing the stigma around addiction, investing in more policies and programs for veterans to discuss their trauma, and ensuring a secure future will make a difference.
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