The VA testified in a hearing in Kentucky that there are 350,000 cases of Veteran PTSD among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. The Vietnam Veterans longitudinal study reports a total of 283,000 cases of PTSD among Vietnam Veterans for a total of 633,000 cases. This total does not include Korean, Gulf or Cold War Veterans. Include them and we are looking at a total well above three quarters of a million cases of Veteran PTSD. Given the media reported total of 22 suicides a day among Veterans and the fact that PTSD sufferers can be driven to extremes of self-destruction and violence by this condition one can only conclude we are witnessing a situation of epidemic proportions.
The VA testified in Kentucky that despite all the drugs and treatments used there has been little success in dealing with this condition and no drug can be considered successful in treating PTSD. Veterans report being overloaded with treatments and enough drugs to choke a horse all with little or no relief.
The lousy success rate at the VA has led many Veterans to turn to medical cannabis for PTSD and pain relief. They report great success. Veteran applicants to the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program report an average 75% reduction in PTSD symptoms and many say medical cannabis has saved their lives, as it has mine. Veterans in States with medical cannabis programs are having great success and only run into trouble when, contrary to their own rules, the VA decides to withhold medical treatment because the Veteran had a urine test positive for cannabis.
Our conundrum could not be clearer, we have an epidemic of PTSD and the most successful treatment for it is illegal under Federal Law.
I would suggest that until Congress acts, the President revive the old Compassionate Care Program, originally called the Investigative New Drug Program, that was killed by President HR Bush. Patients from this program to this day receive a tin of cannabis from the Federal Government every month and there is no reason the program could not be revived to help our Veterans. We could do a voucher program for Veterans in States with Medical Cannabis programs and supply Veterans in non-medical cannabis states as we currently do for survivors of the old Compassionate Care program.
We can begin right now to help these Veterans without waiting for Congress. It is our obligation to do so as soon as we can.