North Texas veterans feel guilty, conflicted over marijuana
Veterans are turning to medical marijuana, yet many feel guilty and conflicted due to their oath to uphold the constitution since they come home and feel forced to break the law in order to take care of themselves.
The men and women who served their country have been a vocal group in the medical cannabis movement, and many attest to the benefits the plant has when it comes to treating their injuries sustained while on duty. A large contingency made several trips to the Texas capitol this year to speak with legislators and testify in favor of medical marijuana bills.
Some of those veterans gathered in Denton this past weekend to share their stories.
The meeting, put on by the Denton chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, featured veterans from the U.S. Army and Navy.
“We talked about veterans issues and specifically addressing the suicide rate of veterans with 22 committing suicide every day,” says Caroline Turner, the group’s director.
Touching on a subject not often discussed was Army veteran Christopher Mays, who is the chapter’s veteran outreach officer.
Mays talked about the PTSD he was diagnosed with after returning home from deployment, and his struggle with homelessness. He was homeless for two years before he was able to get back on his feet. His mission is to inform veterans that they have a choice.
“Some vets believe it’s either suicide or powerful pharmaceuticals that often do not work or create more side effects than they had to start. Chris’ mission is to let vets know that there are other options,” Turner adds.
Jeremiah Looney, also an Army veteran, spoke about the multiple vehicle explosions he was in, and the subsequent conditions he sustained.
“Through the VA, he was put on such high doses and such incredibly massive amounts of medication, that his new doctors flat out do not believe him. He has to carry his medical records with him when he sees new doctors. When he started using cannabis, he was able to scale back on a lot of his medication and has been a better father and better part of our community for it” says Turner.
Larry Talley, who was formerly with the Navy, and is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, discussed what it really means to serve your country. He says that his service did not stop when he retired, after over 20 years in the military. He feels that there are better alternatives to deal with the drug war. He had first hand experience of the drug war, stationed in South America conducting raids on drug operations. After his experiences, he realized how ineffective it was and became an activist.
Turner says the meeting was “incredibly solemn” and that many in attendance were deeply touched by it.
“I mentioned at the meeting that I follow a lot of organizations that address the 22 a day problem, and often times I see them encouraging vets to call their brothers, and make sure they are doing okay. I told everyone to remember that it’s not just fellow veterans that should do this, but our country at large has an obligation to ensure the health and happiness of vets who return home from serving our country. We need to do what we can to reach out to them and make sure they are doing well.”
Many are upset that politicians often talk about doing anything they can to help veterans, yet often ignore the medical marijuana issue.
Turner adds, “Veterans have always been used as pawns in our political system, as a tagline or marketing campaign for votes. We want to help educate vets on how to not let themselves be pawns, to speak out and make their demands, and continue to serve their country by ensuring positive and effective laws are implemented to ensure the health, safety, liberty, and happiness of our communities.”
The goal of the initiative is to send a message to state legislators about the need for a medical cannabis program. It is a one-year project to collect a single used prescription bottle from every state veteran who wants a safer alternative and then present those bottles, demonstrating the great need of the many veterans who can benefit from the non-toxic plant.
According to a recent CBS poll, 86 percent of Americans are in support of using marijuana for medical purposes.
Texas is home to over 1.5 million veterans.
Turned concluded, saying that “it’s the best meeting we’ve ever had.”