Short Note on Cannibis/Marijuana/Alcohol Use and VA Policy


by G. Duff

I just wanted to do a short note today regarding the interesting and useful article involving use of Cannabis and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

While the article may well be very accurate, and I have heard such from more than one veteran, I am certain of this:  THE VA SEES USE OF ALCOHOL AND MARIJUANA AS A "CAUSE" RATHER THAN "SELF MEDICATION." 

Although combat vets from previous wars, notably Korea and the two World Wars, were seen by the VA as using alcohol to treat combat stress, the Vietnam War began an era that put the VA at direct odds with vets who drink or use drugs of any kind.  They are seen as the enemy.

Though the VA still has alcohol and drug treatment facilities, I personally know of more than one veteran who was refused treatment and diagnosis for PTSD because they admitted drug and alcohol use, SOMETHING WHICH IS A COMMON FACTOR WITH MOST PTSD SUFFERERS…


This may not be true for every VA facility, but it is certainly true for many.  I am not advocating that anyone misrepresent themselves or lie to government officials, but I know of more than a few veterans who have had very bad experiences with the VA after admitting that they treat their extreme PTSD symptoms with marijuana. 

Building relationships and trust with treatment personnel is important and, obviously, situations differ depending on the experience and training of the person you talk to. 

Some of the problem, of course, is that not all of "us" are charming and reasonable.  For years, VA personnel were actually UNOFFICIALLY PUNISHED FOR HELPING VETERANS WITH DISABILITY CLAIMS AND PRESSURED NOT TO GIVE DIAGNOSES THAT WOULD LEAD TO PAYING COMPENSATION.

Reforms in the past few years require the VA to help with claims, of course, but inconsistencies make this process less than dependable.  Advice I can give, and this is only advice, "DO NOT LIE ON YOUR APPLICATIONS OR TO VA PERSONNEL, BUT ALSO, DO NOT "RAMBLE ON" ABOUT ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE" 


I was going to say "I am not making a judgment here."  I am lying.  I am making a judgment here.

If you are suffering from PTSD, seek treatment at the VA.  Get your diagnosis confirmed privately if you are making a claim, although many VA facilities are now helping vets. 

Start living a healthy life.  If you drink, stop drinking immediately and seek proper support for this thru an established program.

Many PTSD vets have serious weight probems and diseases related to this.  Seek nutritional guidance and make every possible lifestyle change that will help you keep your weight down and fitness level up.  Accept that stress and chronic overeating are very, very related. 

If you smoke, stop now.  Vets are already at risk for so many problems from Agent Orange and other sources. 

Please start taking care of yourselves.  Make it a priority.  Slow suicide is the wrong cure for PTSD. 

I know many of your have been subjected to "preachy talk" by well meaning or not so well meaning "friends" and family members.  It is not about them.

Just remember, years ago, you could have been court-martialed for "abusing government property."  Now that property is your own.

There are people out there that care about all of you more than you know but there is little anyone can do if the veteran himself is not ready to value his or her own life.

It is the job of all of us to take care of each other.  To do that, we first start taking care of ourselves.

Get educated.  Learn about PTSD, information is available at Veterans Today and any of the staff here will make sure that any questions are answered and, when possible, referrals are made.

Learn about alcoholism.  If you are a "problem drinker" or may be, seek immediate help.  It is impossible to be a friend and parent and alcoholic.  Alcohol will kill you.

Stop smoking.  This may be one of the hardest things any of you do.  My mother died of lung cancer two days ago after years of illnesses related to smoking.  My wife's father died of lung cancer at 46.  He was a WW2 vet and left a young family.  Smoking is destroying this country.  Don't let it destroy you.

Get treatment for your PTSD.  Ask questions and monitor your own meds.  Get into the available VA programs if you are especially at risk.

Those of you "especially at risk" know exactly what I am saying.

Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.  Get as fit as possible.  Start now and work at it every day.

Don't expect the VA to love you.  The government can help and often does.  Sometimes it does not.  In the end, we may only have each other.  This and other sites on the internet are, at heart, veterans communities.  You make of that what you are willing to share and give.

I will be back to write more after heading down to the American Legion to snuff out some cigarettes and yell at people about not eating enough salads at lunch.

Author Details
Gordon Duff is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a disabled veteran and has worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world’s largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues. Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than “several” countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology. Gordon’s Latest Posts
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