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Calling All Veterans

Veterans walking down the street carrying the American flag.
Photo courtesy of NYC Marines

Joint Opinions

Calling All Veterans

Today 22 veterans will commit suicide. Yesterday, 22 vets committed suicide. Tomorrow another 22 vets will commit suicide. And the day after and the day after that… until veterans do something.

I was a USAF veteran from 1970 – 1974. I came from a family of veterans, but I was one of the lucky ones that didn’t go to Vietnam. I went to Thailand where all of us Southeast Asian (SEA) vets had the chance to try the world’s best ganja while there.

We served. We went where we were supposed to and did what we were told. It was in the job description.

In my opinion, there is no doubt that it was the Vietnam and SEA veterans that demonstrated how popular self-treating is for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Of course, back then terms like “self-medicate” weren’t as popular as they are today. And while pot was popular then, there’s a new gold rush era now.

Over the last few years, suicide rates among military veterans have dramatically increased. While suicide rates among older veterans has slightly decreased, there was a 44 percent increase among male veterans under 30.

“Their rates are astronomically high and climbing,” said Jan Kemp, the national mental health director for suicide prevention under Veterans Affairs. “That’s concerning to us.”

While the country is great at paying lip service to vets, the reality is far different as demonstrated in the latest gasping over flaws in the VA medical system. And if weed is involved, heaven help us.

At the University of Arizona, Dr. Sue Sisley, a clinical assistant professor in the college of medicine, was recently terminated from her position after spending four years trying to conduct a study on veterans and using cannabis for PTSD.

CNN reports that “State Sen. Kimberly Yee, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, singlehandedly blocked a bill that would allow the use of surplus state funds toward the study — and others on the beneficial effects of medical marijuana — by refusing to allow a hearing for the House-passed bill.”

According to her campaign website, Yee was called a “rising star” by the Republican National Committee, but Yee is hardly a star. To block this important research is to defy decency and flips veterans a big middle finger salute.

Well Senator Yee, back at you. You should ask Dwight Holton, candidate for Oregon Attorney General in 2012 how wise it is to piss off the cannabis community. Mr. Holton had a sizeable lead in the polls and funding when he went up against Ellen Rosenblum in the Democrat’s primary race. When the dust had settled, Holton lost almost 2 to 1. Here in Oregon we call it the
NotDwight campaign.

I may be in Oregon but I would lend a hand in a NotYee effort.

So, veterans — get registered and get active. We weren’t just trained as cannon fodder, we know how to take care of business on the home front, too.

Are you a veteran that self-medicates? Tell us about your experiences.

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