Veteran suicides could wipe out city in less than a year
Twenty-two. Each day, twenty-two veterans decide they cannot continue and commit suicide. That is almost one every single hour of every single day. That would be the equivalent of a city the size of Rockdale being wiped out in 8 months. In my mind, we should be up in arms about this sad state of affairs.
So why are they committing suicide? The vast majority are tired of fighting the demons they brought back with them from Iraq and Afghanistan. Between Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), they can’t handle the issues facing them. The VA fights this with drugs. This drug calms you down, this drug helps you sleep, this drug helps you wake up. Each one affects the other and causes the dosage needed to increase. A vicious cycle that ends up with the vet being on edge at all times.
What can help them? There is anecdotal evidence that Medicinal Marijuana (MM) can help wean the vet off all the other drugs and cope with the issues as they learn more effective coping methods.
What would it take to get these vets the MM that might help them? Well, the VA cannot prescribe it because it is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. The mania for it dates back to the 1930’s and was highlighted by films such as “Reefer Madness”. The FDA will not change the classification without studies to show it safe and effective. Therein lies the problem.
There are studies that are being shut down due to a lack of volunteers to study. Why is there a lack of vets going to these studies? Easy answer, the VA is not allowed to recommend or discuss these studies because it is a Schedule 1 controlled substance. It’s a circular issue. Without the classification being changed, they cannot get volunteers to be studied and without the studies, they won’t change the classification. Meanwhile, twenty-two vets a day commit suicide.
Virtually every veteran’s organization has come out for studying MM. This includes the American Legion and the VFW.
It’s time Congress stepped up and showed they really do love the vets. Force the FDA to reclassify MM to allow the VA to at least discuss this with their patients. We, as in the federal government, already have one farm that grows MM. It would take a minor increase in funding to expand it to produce enough for the VA to study the effectiveness of MM to reduce the number. It is time to tell your Senators and Representatives that twenty-two vets a day is twenty-two vets a day to many.
By: Ron Rabinowitz
Originally submitted to the Rockdale Reporter, re-printed with permission.
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