There’s a great article on the Web from the Salem (Oregon) News-Record of June 11, 2007, called “Marine Combat Vet Discusses Iraq, PTSD and Medical Marijuana,” linked here. The former Marine in question is Nicholas Burgin, and the subhead to the article is, “The courage of an Iraq War veteran continues in his honesty about PTSD.”
In the tradition of Tony Neff’s story, “All I Want is What I Deserve,” about getting his veterans benefts for a service-connected disability, linked here, Nicholas Burgin’s story is another great, first person narrative account of his experience, and what actually happened to him. (We’re in the process of seeing if we can get Burgin’s permission to reprint his story in full, here, because it would help so many readers.)
In the meantime, read his story, while it’s still up on the Web, or save yourself a copy of it, for future reference. It’s powerful. And don’t neglect reading the comments section, either, that follows the article. A whole lot of people checked in and said they knew what he was talking about, and they agreed, from Vietnam vets through other OIF/OEF combat vets.
Burgin is a young Marine who, like a highly decorated Marine with PTSD we’ve blogged about here, Daniel Cotnoir, worked in mortuary affairs for the Marines in Iraq – a more gruesome job hardly exists — and saw enough stuff to last a thousand lifetimes. Later on, of course, Burgin had trouble with the memories, and despite trying everything recommended to him, found one and one thing only that helped him ease the pain. He details his struggles, and his victories, in the excellent, first person narrative, and closes with the line, “Take what you will from this story, but I know for a fact marijuana has saved my life numerous times.” Good for him.
In the 60s, draft dodgers and anti-war types in the U.S. made their way to Canada to ride out the Vietnam war. Many stayed for years. Today, with an all-volunteer military, “escaping” to Canada isn’t nearly so popular; but if anyone compares the drug laws in the U.S. and Canada re: marijuana use, and finds themselves overly hassled by the perspective in the U.S. that it’s still a criminal offense, they might start to find Canada more attractive again. Depending on whether the party in power is liberal or conservative, their drug policy waxes and wanes, but more than 51% of Canadians are in favor of decriminalizing marijuna use, says the BBC, and using is often treated differently there than selling (possession v. intent to distribute).