The testimony below was submitted by a U.S. veteran in support of medical cannabis.
I am a veteran of the U.S. military, where I served as an 11B (Infantryman) and was discharged under honorable conditions. I, like many veterans, suffer from many medical conditions since returning from combat, such as insomnia, pain, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I joined the military at the young age of 19. Within two months of joining my unit, I earned the coveted Expert Infantry Badge (EIB). This early success paved the way for me to join the ranks of our battalion's scout sniper section. At 22-years-old I was deployed to Afghanistan and attached to an ODA (operational detachment alpha) team in the Logar province.
We suffered a mass-casualty incident within the first month of being in Logar. It was a horrible experience to live through, and I am very thankful I made it out without injury. Our V.S.P. (village stability platform) kept us in very close contact with the Afghan population, which put us in near constant danger. Mortar rounds landed in and around our small base on a daily basis, causing casualties among both our troops and the Afghanis. On one occasion, an insurgent drove a 600-plus pound vehicle born I.E.D. through our front gate. Luckily, the insurgent's initiation system failed.
I do not know how the general population imagines a deployment, but we fought for our lives, day-in and day-out. If we weren't actively engaged in fighting, we were treating wounds, building defenses, and dreaming of the day we would make it home. We went from fighting for our lives to being home in 72 hours. That was a very difficult transition, as it left no period to process all of the experiences that we encountered.
Falling asleep is very difficult for me now. I cannot relax, and the feeling of fear and anxiety overtake me frequently. Carrying 100-plus pounds of gear, heavy weaponry, and ammo through the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan left my knees, back, and shoulders in frequent pain. Although the Army provided me with a surgery to fix my clavicle, it still hurts every single day. I do not have many young individuals like myself to share my feelings and experiences with because only a very small percentage of my age-group served, and an even smaller percentage served in combat.
The treatment for these conditions consists of multiple pills with multiple side-effects and a serious possibility of death. I was never a cannabis user until I was discharged. Cannabis helps me cope with life now. It makes sleeping easier and provides me with moments of comfort and relaxation, and there is no possibility of overdose. There are no adverse side-effects --- except my life being ruined because of a draconian law that doesn't allow veterans to get the help they need.
Multiple veterans take their lives every day. Multiple veterans live in horror and fear. Multiple veterans needyou, now more than ever. Cannabis can change our lives, but that change starts with you. I beg you to make a difference. I beg you...not for my life, but for the lives of my brothers and sisters in arms to TAKE A STAND and support medical cannabis for veterans.
- Isidor Hawthorne