Plant Medicine Can Help Our Soldiers Fully Come Home

By Socrates Rosenfeld

In the last week of August, the remaining U.S. troops flew out of Afghanistan ending two decades of war. Over that period of time, between 1.9 to 3 million U.S. service members served in Afghanistan and Iraq, with over half of them deployed more than once. It’s a generation of troops that I count myself among. 

Up until 2011, I served as an Apache helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army. The concept of coming home has weighed even more heavily on me since the news of the final withdrawal. From my own personal experience, I understand that it’s one thing to bring troops home from a war physically, but it is quite another to bring them back emotionally and spiritually.

War is an ugly, dirty affair, no matter which side you sit on. Whether or not one experiences combat, there is the constant fear of IEDs, the long separation from families and a million other small traumas that imprint on soldiers in profound ways. In the 1970s, a study showed that 15% of Vietnam War developed PTSD shortly after the war’s end. And that number only multiplies as time goes on. In 1988, the National Vietnam Veteran Readjustment Study found that as time went on, the number of Vietnam suffering with PTSD doubled to a whopping 30%.

We know that without the proper tools, can turn towards destructive means of coping. In fact, one study of Vietnam veterans found that 74% of the veterans had co-occurring substance use disorders. For these veterans and many like them, their mental health suffered as a result of PTSD, which leads to more serious problems like alcoholism and drug addiction. 

Countless soldiers have …

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