In 2009, the Whites and 34 other people were invited to testify at an FDA hearing on approval of Seroquel as a treatment for young children. They presented the stories of loved ones who died while taking Seroquel.
"In less than 30 minutes, the FDA voted to expand the approval," Stan White said. "It was a farce."
Discouraged advocates doubted their voices would ever be heard above those of lobbyists for the powerful pharmaceutical companies and their deep pockets.
They welcome the recent news that U.S. Central Command has removed Seroquel from the "approved" formulary, but are skeptical about when and if military doctors will follow the guidelines.
Still, it's a victory. Stan downplays their role in the drug's removal from the formulary and said many people brought the deaths and dangers to military leaders' attention
"Is this a result of our efforts? I'm not sure. We've rattled enough cages. It's all of us. Each of us has had an impact," he said of the many advocates and families of victims who have voiced concern.
@brfs:Treatment wish list
@bod:PTSD never goes away. It can only be controlled, in a manner similar to an alcohol or drug addiction.
The Whites would like the military to offer soldiers returning from combat peer-to-peer counseling rather than medication-only treatment. Stan White, who is the ski patrol director at Canaan Valley, backs an expert's suggestion that high-adventure activities for soldiers accustomed to the adrenaline rush of combat could be helpful treatment.
Veterans returning from combat today are offered more counseling options than those Andrew received in the early days of the campaign, but the help comes too late for others.
"We want to try to get to people before it before it becomes a fatality. We want to make the families aware that they must question the treatment before there is a loss," Shirley said.
They wonder if Andrew would still be alive if he'd had more options. As his anger, panic attacks and impatience increased and he showed classic symptoms of PTSD, Andrew's doctors only increased his medication. Shirley White fought for counseling for her son, who had been speaking with a counselor for just two weeks before he died.
"The VA will tell you that counseling is one of the first lines offered. That was not true in our case," she said. "We were so persistent. It took that persistence to get results."
Despite their struggles, the Whites say they support the military.
When the Whites' phones ring, they often hear the voice of a distraught mother or wife calling with another heart-breaking story about their healthy son or husband dying in his sleep. In a recent three-hour conversation with a bereaved mother, Stan said he and Shirley probably spoke for two minutes. The woman just needed to talk to someone who understood.
The conversations drain them. After that one, Shirley went to bed that afternoon and slept until the following morning. People ask them how they continue to offer support for people whose stories revive painful memories.
"We have chosen to deal with our loss this way," she said. Every now and then, they take a break from the research and advocacy efforts -- until the phone rings.
"You have to take that call," Stan White said. "We'd never refuse anyone."
To contact Stan and Shirley White, email hswhite2...@yahoo.com.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.