Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us, including our military Veterans. This November, Leaf411 is putting the spotlight on those who’ve served, celebrating their stories and creating new connections through our virtual Leaf Learning Series: Supporting Veterans event scheduled for Thursday, November 19, from 4-7 pm MST.

Two veterans sitting across from one another at a table, recording a podcast about how cannabis benefitted their healing.

We’re also launching a new podcast, Leaf Live, as part of the educational event. Our  podcasts will feature Vets sharing their stories and talking about how cannabis helped them manage conditions brought on by their call of duty. Our event will also feature these Vets and the nonprofits they founded to support fellow service members.

Keep reading to learn more about why we’re focusing on Veterans this month, as well as to learn about the nonprofits we’re partnering with for our interactive learning series event.

A Black veteran stares out a window from a darkened room.

2020 Has Been a Difficult Year for Our Veterans

Pandemic-related shutdowns and social distancing restrictions changed all our lives this year, but for Veterans the impact has been especially difficult.

Following military duty, many Vets have found purpose by serving as community leaders, speaking publicly about their own hardships and motivating others to overcome challenges and barriers. The majority of these outlets—meetings, presentations and in-person classes—were abruptly shut down in early 2020 as stay-at-home restrictions were quickly enacted in response to the rapidly-spreading virus. While medical experts agree that the restrictions were urgently needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, there was little discussion about how restrictions would impact communities that rely heavily on one another for connection and support.

A female Veteran in military uniform stares to the side with a pensive look.

Even during normal times, Veterans are at increased risk for depression, PTSD, and other mental health concerns when compared to non-military civilians. Concerningly, suicide rates among Veterans also trend higher than the general population. The reasons behind this increased risk of mental health conditions are complex, but the realities of 2020 have only exacerbated the situation.

Close up of military field jacket and American flag patch with cannabis flower on top.

Veterans Building Community Around Cannabis

The community built around cannabis, along with the therapeutic benefits of the plant itself, have provided a lifeline for many wounded warriors during dark times. Some of these Veterans have even been inspired to form their own nonprofits to help fellow soldiers along the path of learning and healing.

As Leaf411 contemplated how to celebrate Veterans this November, we decided our best approach was to share our platform with others who are fighting for the right of all Vets to safely, legally access cannabis medicine. Our November 19, 2020, event will feature the voices of Veterans, with educational content geared toward your questions, including how cannabis use may impact VA benefits. We’ll also hear from our supporting member Medically Correct about the cannabis research they’re doing in partnership with the VA. Other Leaf411 members will also be presenting information about their products and answering your questions.

Several Veterans organizations will be on hand to share their stories and connect directly with attendees through interactive chats and a dedicated virtual Veterans Lounge. These organizations include:

  • CanniMedic.org – CannaMedic.org was founded by Navy Veteran and retired Paramedic Firefighter Stanley Atkins II to bridge the gap between medical cannabis, education and patients who could benefit from cannabis or CBD. 
  • Balanced Veterans – Balanced Veterans advocates for alternative therapies for Veterans, including cannabis as a safe alternative to opioids and other pharmaceuticals. The organization also recognizes that community, conversation and holistic healing are all part of the path to healing and provides support to Veterans across all these areas. In addition, Balanced Veterans provides financial support to disabled Veterans in Pennsylvania to offset the cost of medical marijuana card certification.  
  • Veterans for Natural Rights (VNR) – VNR is a Colorado-based nonprofit serving Veterans, their families and friends. The organization is built on the premise that freedom is the birthright of every American. This freedom extends to safely, legally accessing cannabis and psychedelics as research-based treatment options for PTSD, anxiety, chronic pain and other conditions. 
  • Veterans Ending the Stigma (VETS) – This Ohio-based nonprofit seeks to address various stigmas that are commonly connected to Veterans, from outdated opinions about mental illness and homelessness to misconceptions about cannabis.  VETS supports cannabis’s therapeutic potential for PTSD, TBI, chronic pain and other battle-related conditions. 
  • Helmand Valley Growers Company (HVGC) – HVGC was founded by U.S. Special Operations Veterans who understand the challenges that Veterans face as the result of time spent on the battlefield. They’re partnering with cannabis researchers to develop a Veteran-based protocol and provide evidence of the benefits of medical cannabis as an alternative to habit-forming opioids. HVGC is a fully-licensed cannabis company in the state of California, with products sold in legal dispensaries. Profits support the company’s mission to advance the science around cannabis’s potential therapeutic benefits for Veterans. HVGC also formed a separate nonprofit, Battle Brothers Foundation, to provide personal, medical and financial support to struggling Veterans.
A female veteran on her laptop, signing up for the free Leaf Learning event.

Sign Up for Our Leaf Learning Series Today!

We hope you’re able to join us for our next free Leaf Learning series event. Sign up today at this link: https://hopin.to/events/leaf-learning-series-supporting-veterans 

Also, we encourage you to share this information with family members, friends and colleagues who might benefit. While our learning series event is designed for Veterans, it will also include a lot of great educational content geared toward anyone who’s interested in cannabis’s therapeutic potential!

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.