Getting Back to Civilian Life: Organizations Provide Healthy Alternatives for Veterans
Veterans have historically struggled with a handful of issues after returning from their time in service. A few examples of these struggles include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia — and the list doesn’t stop there. The biggest issue that veterans often face, however, is not knowing where to turn for help as they integrate back into civilian life.
According to a September 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of veterans in the United States is decreasing, yet the number of veteran suicides continues to increase.
Between the years of 2008 and 2017, the veteran population decreased by 18 percent yet the number of veteran suicides increased by 6 percent, totaling more than 6,100 in 2017 alone.
The struggles that veterans face and the lack of support they often receive can unfortunately lead veterans to turn to opioids in order to find relief. Opioid use among veterans has also increased over the past few years despite the decreasing veteran population. Between the years of 2010 and 2016, the rate of overdose deaths among veterans from opioids increased by 65 percent.
Part of this dependence on opioids is derived from the fact that many veterans do not know about or have access to sources of alternative medicine. To add to it, the VA has made it publicly known it does not support the use of plant-based medicine as a viable alternative among veterans. However, several studies have shown that plant-based medicine is a viable alternative to prescription medications without reaping the harmful side effects and addictive qualities.
As part of its mission to help people discover alternative medicines that work for them, Gofire reaches out to veteran communities to provide them with a platform to consume alternative medicines in a safe and controlled way. The Gofire Health Suite allows veterans to find products that work for their specific needs and come up with a dosing regimen to combat symptoms. The platform also allows veterans to share which products are making them feel better in an anonymous way so they can help others in their community as well.
Gofire understands that although plant medicine may not be the whole answer, it is a good place to start for relief and can make a huge impact on the lives of veterans. In addition to providing a way for veterans to consume plant-based medicine, Gofire wants to connect them with others in the community that are also in support of the movement. This way, veterans can feel comfortable talking to others about how they are finding relief and what’s working for them. Below is a list of organizations that Gofire has partnered with as a part of our efforts to connect the veteran community. Each of the resources listed below is a great place for veterans to find help — or to refer a loved one who needs help. In addition, these deserving organizations also accept donations to help them serve the veteran population.
Balanced Veterans is an educational nonprofit founded by Iraqi War Veteran Ron Millward. Ron has experienced first-hand what it is like to struggle while adjusting back into civilian life after serving, and that led him to form the organization. The group aims to create a safe space for the education, empowerment and advocacy of alternative therapies for veterans. They provide knowledge and training for the use of plant-based medicine to treat common issues among veterans such as chronic pain, anxiety and depression.
Balanced Veterans is a digital community for veterans but they often host events and gatherings across the country. Balanced Veterans is based out of Philadelphia, but there are local groups in many other states including California and Oklahoma. They believe that plant-based medicine alone is not the answer but community, conversation and holistic healing practices are vital in living a truly balanced life.
The Reveille Project was designed to help veterans integrate back into civilian life socially, emotionally and physically when they return from their time in the service. The founders of The Reveille Project believe that a holistic lifestyle can help restore veteran lives post active duty. They created a foundation for veterans through fitness, nutrition and community to encourage a healthy perspective and purpose-driven life.
As a member of the Reveille Project, veterans receive a yearlong scholarship to a carefully vetted, satellite gym that has experience working with adaptive athletes. In addition, they receive a quarterly physical therapy session and a monthly one-on-one with a registered dietitian. Most important, veterans get to be a part of a community and receive endless friendship and support from those around them.
Drew Robertson founded Mattersville on the premise that everyone should do their part in making the world a better place, and it all starts with our veterans. Mattersville is an organization that has set out to build a community of tiny homes for veterans and their families as they integrate back into civilian life. The tiny home project will cover 35 acres and is expected to be completed in 2020. They also focus on connecting veterans with the community by hosting and attending veteran events.
They most recently hosted the 1st Annual Sustainability Festival for Veterans in Arvada, Colorado in hopes of raising awareness for their cause as well as educating and connecting veterans. Gofire was lucky enough to be a part of this festival and talk about the ways that veterans can incorporate plant medicine into their routines.