Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Marijuana possession of less than an ounce may result in dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay, and confinement for 2 years. All branches of the military take a zero tolerance approach to marijuana and vigorously prosecute offenders. If a soldier tests positive, they are likely to face significant punishment, including a court-martial or other administrative action that is likely to result in the termination of their career.
Negative military service characterizations carry significant consequences. Eligibility for VA benefits, including GI Bill and home loan guarantees, can be restricted and in many cases barred. In addition, a veteran might be disqualified from federal, state and local government employment. The ability to obtain student aid, scholarships, and admission to higher education institutions might be impacted. It may affect the ability to obtain licenses and certifications needed for professional employment, as well as obtaining credit and loans in connection with establishing a business. Civilian employers consider military service characterization when deciding whether or not to hire.
A recent Drug Policy Alliance Report illustrates roughly 30 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression, mental illness or other cognitive disability, making integration back into civilian life even more difficult. Veterans suffering from PTSD often have negative law enforcement encounters. Left untreated, these medical conditions often contribute to substance abuse, fatal overdose, homelessness and suicide, as well as violations of the law, particularly nonviolent drug offenses.
The statistics are alarming: about 18 veterans take their lives each day. In fact, suicide is now the leading cause of death in the army, with more soldiers dying by suicide than in combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among American soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has reached epidemic proportions, affecting between 75,000 to 225,000 veterans. The use of cannabis and cannabinoids likely mitigates symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a review of clinical and preclinical evidence published online in the scientific journal Drug Testing and Analysis. The study concluded, “Cannabis might make it easier for people with PTSD to rest or sleep and to feel less anxious and less involved with flashback memories. Evidence is increasingly accumulating that cannabinoids might play a role in fear extinction and anti-depressive effects. It is concluded that further studies are warranted in order to evaluate the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in PTSD.”
“Viet Nam vets have shown me that, in many cases, cannabis is the one medicine that has consistently helped their seriously disabling symptoms, allowing them to function, hold jobs, keep their relationships intact, and raise families for the past 30 or so years, when years of therapy and numerous meds have not.” explains Frank H. Lucido, MD.
“The men and women who serve in the United States military deserve the honor, respect and thanks of a grateful nation. While no single act can truly thank those who served, we can provide them with education leading to better quality of life and opportunity here at home. It is unpatriotic to deny veterans the very medication that helps them most, and then criminalize it,” said Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam University’s Executive Chancellor and owner, who is announcing the formation of the Veterans Freedom Fighter Scholarship Fund. The private fund will help to fulfill this promise with financial aid options to help returning veterans define their own success at home, by preparing them to succeed with Oaksterdam University's multifaceted curriculum. Private contributions are needed for Veterans, who will be taught how to be safe and responsible under state law, develop skills for successful law enforcement encounters, take control of their medication, and find employment.
The application process will begin at oaksterdamuniversity.com in January 2013 for Veterans interested in receiving Freedom Fighter Scholarship benefits. America’s first cannabis college was founded in 2007 to provide students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry. Since opening its doors, over 15,000 have gained important skills for success. Oaksterdam University is currently offering 25% off tuition for any US Veteran who enrolls in 2012 and is participating with RecruitMilitary, the leading national Opportunity Expo for Veterans seeking job placement.
Companies and private donors can contribute to the Freedom Fighter Scholarship Fund at http://www.indiegogo.com/ouvets. Fund recipients will be selected through self-nomination and Veteran's organizations submissions beginning in January 2013. The screening process is aided by Veterans Saving Americans (VSA) and Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access (VMMA). Upon graduation from the Basic Program or Semester Course from Oaksterdam University, VSA will assist in job placement.
Veterans Saving Americans