In a moving article I’ve paraphrased here, Rev. Dr. Coleman Baker expresses so eloquently what has been on our minds here at Sespe:
…along with those killed on the battlefields we’ve sent them to, there are at least two other facets of Memorial Day that we should face.
First, we should remember those whose war experience led them to take their own lives after returning home. According to the latest government data, an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide each day. That’s almost one per hour.
Second, we should also remember those who may struggle with memories of fallen friends, wondering why they survived while others didn’t.
Let us give thanks for the many lives lost on the battlefield. But let us also acknowledge those who returned home, alive and well, but feeling empty, numb, even dead, on the inside. And let us call attention to these invisible wounds that affect so many, raising awareness of the need … to take action to help their recovery.
The 22 suicides per day figure is without a doubt significantly low. It includes data from only 21 states, from 1999 through 2011. Those states represent about 40% of the U.S. population. The other states, including the two largest (California and Texas) and the fifth-largest (Illinois), did not make data available. There is also an under-reporting of suicides and a very significant under-reporting of veteran status on death records.
So what can we do this Memorial Day to help the veterans who are still falling, day by day, hour by hour?
The good news is, a Senate Appropriations Committee has just approved Veterans Medical Marijuana Amendment, and it’s attached to a piece of legislation that is guaranteed to pass. As positive as this is, it only helps the vets who live in medical states, and those who can afford to move to one.
But on this historic day, and the next few days while this story does the news cycle, as we thank our lawmakers for attaching some urgency to this issue, it would be a perfect moment to remind them how important HR 1538 is.
Last March, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act of 2015 (H.R.1538 – CARERS Act of 2015) was introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) The bill would end the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and “extend the principle of federalism to State drug policy, provide access to medical marijuana, and enable research into the medicinal properties of marijuana”. It would also allow veterans in all states to have safe access. It has been referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security so they can evaluate the threats posed by compassion, research, and respecting rights. Meanwhile, people die.
As we honor the fallen, we should do everything in our power to help those who are still with us to NOT FALL.
Almost one every hour.
For more on cannabis and PTSD, Dr. Sanjay Gupta did an excellent job in WEED 3: