Smoking Out Prohibition at the Dallas Veteran Affairs Hospital
On August 3, 2013, the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hosted a veteran appreciation bar-b-que, lovingly named “Smoke Out Prohibition – For the Vets.” The intention of having a luncheon for the long-term care veterans that live at the Dallas Veteran Affairs hospital was to, first and foremost, provide community support and outreach to a group of Americans that are often too quickly forgotten about and to spread awareness about the presence of NORML in the area and our agenda.
When Tristan Tucker and Tracy Ansley began to plan the picnic, we received strict guidelines from the Department of Veteran Affairs that we had to adhere to. The veterans we were serving were Post Traumatic Stress Disorder patients and patients recovering their lives via a substance abuse program – both of which medical marijuana has been proven to help. The guidelines consisted of items such as not being able to sell merchandise, not being able to hang banners unless they read “DFW NORML Supports The Troops” or anything along those lines. The VA was gracious enough to allow us to pass out DFW NORML pamphlets to educate those who were interested.
DFW NORML was very well received by the employees of the Veteran Affairs Hospital and the veterans alike. At 12:00, we fired up the grills. Hundreds of hot dogs, hamburgers and several racks of ribs were thrown on the grill, potato salad was opened by the pan load, baked beans were placed in the oven and the veterans started to pour in. Lunch started around 12:45 and we had a line through the building waiting to be served.
All in all, DFW NORML served 200 veterans in person and 50 veterans to go meals. We had about 70 volunteers show up, most of which brought huge platters of food, desserts, drinks and fruit. Additionally, our superb volunteer staff raised an additional $150 which was donated back to the department’s bingo nights to allow these veterans to win a few dollars of spending money so they can enjoy simple pleasures like a soda while they’re living in the hospital.
It isn’t every day that an organization like NORML can say that they honestly made a difference and honestly touched a life and today, I think we did. I believe that the people who showed up and sacrificed their time, money, talent and words of support and kindness today truly touched the lives of people that sacrificed a lot more for this country than you or I.
I am proud of this organization and it’s volunteers. I’m proud of our NORML Veterans who have also sacrificed countless days and years of their lives, that missed the birth of a child or the anniversary of their wedding. I am proud to consider you my brothers and I know that we are a stronger organization with your presence.
DFW NORML is looking forward to planning future events for the guys at the VA Hospital, hopefully every few months. The organization is in the process of planning a fall food drive and preparing a holiday meal for our veterans as well.
In the navy, we used the words “Semper Fortis (Always Courageous.)” I think they fit very well with the work we do as NORML.
Executive Director, UNT NORML
Veteran Outreach Coordinator, DFW NORML
US Navy Aviation Ordnanceman Third Class, disabled.