Overdose deaths among veterans treated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs occur at a rate nearly double the national average.

Reporter Aaron Glantz has been following this story for two years. In this segment, he introduces us to the “Candy Man,” the chief of staff at a VA hospital in Tomah, Wisconsin. Hospital staff members tell Reveal that Dr. David Houlihan “hands out narcotics like they’re candy.” Opiate prescriptions at the medical center have skyrocketed during his tenure.

But it’s not just the people inside the hospital who are suffering – Glantz shows the widespread consequences of a decade of doling out drugs.

DIG DEEPER

  • Read the full story.
  • If you’re a veteran who’s found an alternative to painkillers, text “pain” to 877-877 – we want to hear your story.
  • Listen to Glantz’s original investigation of the VA’s opiate habit.

Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.

Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.