Marchers advocated for a bill making PTSD and TBI eligible conditions under the Washington medical cannabis program. Over 200 people swarmed the state capitol of Washington on Friday, the 22nd to take part in the annual Veteran Suicide Awareness March, to share their stories of how medical cannabis is saving Veterans from suicide.
The number 22
The march began with a moment of silence honoring those soldiers who had fallen in battle, and those still falling after returning home. Standing at the Vietnam War Memorial, they then moved on to Sylvester Park, and participants took turns sharing their stories.
Twenty22Many, the group that organized the march, formed in 2014 when founder Patrick Seifert woke to the shocking statistic that every day 22 veterans commit suicide. Since then, he has made it his mission to bring awareness to the plight of veterans’ suffering.
Veterans and cannabis
Pijper Day, 51, shared her words at the rally. Day served in the Army and survived her own suicide attempt. Now, she advocates for more education about how cannabis helps veterans who might attempt to do the same thing she almost did.
Some veterans pop pills rather than using medical cannabis because they’re worried about having their veterans’ benefits taken away. It’s hard to convince many veterans that marijuana can be a safe remedy.
Clint Milner, 35, shared his experiences using medical cannabis to treat his PTSD earned through tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
(PTSD) triggers when I’m in big crowds or around fireworks. Marijuana really calms me down and takes it away. Medicinal dispensers really cater to veterans and the exact strain they need to treat PTSD.
When my supply runs out, I don’t know what I’ll do.
Medical cannabis is saving Veterans from suicide
Steve Rollins, an Army veteran, was also on hand. The severe PTSD and flashbacks he endures caused him to attempt suicide on multiple occasions.
I almost ended up being one of those twenty-twos. I thought the best way to battle my PTSD and flashbacks was to not sleep. So I started medicating with methamphetamine.
Then I found marijuana and it saved me.
Addressing the issue
In Seifert’s address to the crowd of people on the steps of the Capitol before the march, he stated,
The reason for the memorial is because leading those numbers of suicides is the Vietnam-era veteran. In Vietnam, (soldiers) would get sent on one or two missions. Nowadays, how many tours have they done? Four or five.
If the Vietnam veterans are leading those numbers now, we are going to have our hands full when these veterans now are coming home and they have done five or six tours.
According to the statistics, the number of veterans that have committed suicide since 2008 has almost eclipsed the total number of killed in the entire Vietnam War. Seifert added,
I don’t understand how that doesn’t lead every news cycle.
Do you know a veteran who suffers from PTSD, flashbacks, night terrors, chronic depression, or suicidal thoughts? Have you tried to share the healing power of cannabis with them? Help us spread the message on social media or in the comments below.