Following the Civil War, Americans decided to dedicate the last Monday in May to commemorate the brave individuals who died fighting for our country. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.
We can never forget those who served in the military, and we continue to thank those who continue to serve everyday. Each member of the PAMMJ team has veterans in their family. We thank the grandfathers, mothers, fathers, college students, the 18 year olds in boot camp, and everyone else sacrificing to serve our country. We also thank the mothers, fathers, friends, sisters, brothers, and children at home for supporting your loved ones.
In Pennsylvania, we are proud to be ranked 4th among the states with the highest population of veterans in the USA. PA’s estimated population in 2020 is 12,820,878 and around 840,000 of us are veterans! Many sacrifices are made by those who serve our country and their loved ones.
In addition to protecting our country, about 98,639 of Pennsylvania’s veterans own businesses! On the other hand… Veterans are often subject to a myriad of physical and mental conditions as a result of their experiences. Although veterans are widely respected, and the VA tries to offer a lot of assistance, it can still be difficult for veterans to get the help they require. 13.6% of Pennsylvania’s veterans are disabled due to a service related injury and many of them may also be included in the 6.3% of our veterans who are unemployed or the 6.5% that live in poverty.
In addition to physical injuries that may lead to disability, you may have heard that many veterans also struggle with mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, but exactly how common is it? The Department of Veteran affairs reported, “Mental health conditions are the third most frequently diagnosed category of conditions at the VA, for both men and women.” This van help us understand why substance use is so common among veterans. Mental Health America reported 18.57% of adults are experiencing a mental health illness, equivalent to 45 million Americans. Other reports have stated 30% of veterans suffer from a mental health condition and there are roughly 22 veteran suicides each day in the USA. These statistics are disconcerting, mainly because these numbers also do not include those who keep their condition private and do not seek treatment.
May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Veterans, remember… You are not alone. It is okay to not be okay. Do not be ashamed to seek advice or treatment. Although each person will seek different solutions to their trials, there are many resources for veterans in Pennsylvania, such as:
- The Veterans Health Administration
- Mental health treatment (primarily PTSD), dental care benefits, community living centers, compensated work therapy, and much more
- Heroes Outdoor Therapy (H.O.T.)
- H.O.T. is a non-profit organization that gives veterans access to outdoor recreation such as fishing and kayaking by covering the cost of the events and providing free transportation.
- It has been reported that outdoor activities have a positive effect on one’s mental health and can be very effective when treating conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
- Pennsylvania Veterans’ Trust Fund (VTF)
- Mission Statement: administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), is to assist and support Pennsylvania veterans and their families. The VTF issues grants to statewide charitable organizations that support veterans, veterans service organizations and county directors of veterans affairs to assist veterans in need of shelter and necessities of living.
- Veterans’ Crisis Hotline
- 1-800-273-8255 press 1
- Text to 838255
- Balanced Veterans
- What do they do? “We are proud to support and partner with Veterans Cannabis Coalition. Many in the veteran community struggle under unique health burdens stemming from their honorable service, and have experienced little success in managing their conditions with available pharmaceuticals. Through cannabis, veterans of all generations and states of health have experienced improvements in their quality of life–whether it is a World War II veteran with cancer or an Iraq veteran with a traumatic brain injury. The United States Government has an explicit legal, moral, and ethical obligation to provide veterans with the best care possible, and we will continue to work with the Veterans Cannabis Coalition to hold our institutions responsible.”
Can cannabis also help veterans? Research says yes. Although the VA does not pay for medical cannabis, it can be an effective treatment for veterans. Cannabis can help treat a many issues veterans commonly deal with such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, arthritis, chronic pain, and opioid addiction. For more information on veterans and cannabis, please visit Weed for Warriors or Balanced Veterans.
Although we will all be celebrating a bit differently than usual due to COVID-19, Happy Memorial Day! We hope everyone has a nice peaceful day to remember those who sacrificed their lives protecting our country!