Musician raises awareness of veterans affected by opioid crisis

Musician raises awareness of veterans affected by opioid crisis

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

The nation-wide opioid crisis was declared a public health emergency. One of the most affect demographics are veterans.

Gunner Fore, a singer/songwriter is using his music to fight the stigma of addiction. Fore knows the feeling of losing someone to the epidemic. 

"Jason Bates was my brother-in-law and he was in Iraq during the troops surge in 2007," Fore said. 

An improvised explosive device took Bates' left leg. 

"A lot of the guys who came back from the troop surge, the V-A at the time was over-prescribing morphine and other opiates," Fore said. 

Charles Seifert, a Texas Tech professor of pharmacy studies said addictions have shot up in conjunction with the war on terror. 

"Most of the heroin comes from Afghanistan." Seifert said. "Actually with the Afghanistan War, the influx of heroin into the United States went way up."

Now, Seifert said prescription drug abuse is the root of the problem. 

"The number one abuse is really with prescription pain relievers and prescription opioids." Seifert said. "Those are mostly gotten through our local prescribes."

Doctors prescribed morphine to Fore's brother-in-law to help with the pain from his amputation. Like many veterans, he got addicted and died in December 2016.

"Once he passed away, I was kinda toying with trying to do more activism trying to raise more awareness for different causes through music," Fore said.

Fore now uses music to reach others. Every show he plays he dedicates two songs to Bates to share his brother-in-law's story to the audience. 

"I feel like if I can do anything to help other people, if the songs help other people, then that's what all of this is about," Fore said. 

He said his song titled "Okay" was written about Bates. 

"He actually got to fly out to meet with his unit when they came back to America and they wrote an article about it and they spoke to his sergeant." Fore said. "He said in the article that he kept telling Jason that he was going to be okay and Jason was like 20 at the time, and he was hurt and he looked at him and said, 'yeah I know, we're going to be okay.'"

He said writing the song came easy to him because he wanted to remember Bates in a positive way. 

"Music can get a point across in a way that you can't get it through by speaking," Fore said.

Fore said by being vulnerable, he felt the audience was more receptive. 

"People come up to me after shows, and they talk about you know their son or their daughter, that is dealing with the same thing, or passed away or got killed in action," Fore said. 

Last year, 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. It is now the leading cause of unintentional death in the U.S. 

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