Tennessee State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) said last week that he is drafting a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession by military veterans in the state who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rep. Faison told the Knoxville News-Sentinel, “Pills have side effects. … The No. 1 side effect is suicide. Twenty-eight veterans a day in America are committing suicide.”
Aside from a bill legalizing low-THC cannabis oil that Gov. Haslam signed in May of this year, marijuana legalization and decriminalization advocates in the state have struggled to gain support for their initiatives.
Faison, who claims to have never tried an intoxicant and whose sister was killed by an inebriated driver, says it takes “a special kind of stupid” to fail to recognize the medical benefits of marijuana in the case of war veterans who suffer from PTSD.
He said that his wife, who holds a master’s degree in nutrition, often says, “For most ailments man has, God has a remedy,” and added that he believes that marijuana can sometimes be used as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for certain ailments.
Faison’s bill will only decriminalize pot possession by veterans dealing with PTSD. Critics, such as Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville), who relayed an anecdote about a police officer who is wheelchair-bound by seizures, say that the effort is unfair because it does not allow non-veterans with PTSD and other ailments to seek treatment. However, Rep. Jones said that she would be willing to support Faison’s bill as an incremental step to allow a “little piece of the population” to obtain medical marijuana.
In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.
A group of volunteers calling themselves the Camp Alpha Project have been camped around Phoenix, Arizona for the last six weeks. The group says its goal is to “help homeless Veterans and Civilians in Phoenix by utilizing available resources.”
Fox 10 reported last month that Camp Alpha “started in October and keeps growing as it reaches out to get the vets off the streets one step at a time,” and that “the community and other veteran organizations have stepped up and dropped off tents, food, clothing, and supplies.”
Following complaints from neighbors, the city of Phoenix investigated the encampment and is pursuing a solution to relocate the camp. The Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department met with the organizers of Camp Alpha and has told the organizers they cannot stay at their current location.
“Those are complaints. That’s the challenge we’re up against. People in the neighborhood don’t know what we’re all about,” Camp Alpha’s Eric Smaltz told Fox10 in Phoenix. “They just see the encampment growing and wonder what’s going on and they apply a negative connotation to homeless people and encampments.”
12 News in Phoenix reported that city leaders say the “tent city” is violating city code. Aaron Pomrenke, who founded the camp back in October, told 12 News that the city had not communicated anything about a violation. Pomrenke previously told 12 News he started Camp Alpha as a way to give homeless veterans a safe place to sleep while also connecting them with much-needed services.
Moises Gallegos with Phoenix’s Human Services Department told Fox that the city cannot allow the camp to exist because “there are rules that say it’s not okay, it’s not legal. There are many others that would say if we’re going to let this be, why can’t we have tents and camps on every vacant lot, corner, anyplace people would want to do that.”
The city also told 12 News they support Camp Alpha’s goals “but it is an obvious code violation to set up a tent encampment in a vacant lot.” The city says they do not have a building for Camp Alpha but hopes they can “develop a plan for a solution.”
Interestingly enough, in early 2014 Phoenix was declared the first city to “end chronic homelessness among military veterans.” At the time, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton spoke with USA Today and said “the city went from 220 vets on the streets a couple of years ago to virtually none today.”
Despite Phoenix’s declaration of eliminating homelessness among veterans, there remains a multitude of veterans in need of support. Camp Alpha serves as a reminder of the unfortunate reality that the men and women who fight in the United States military often return home battling a number of ailments and are faced with failed bureaucracy and apathy.
Billionaire mogul and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed that CNN donate the revenue it makes from ad sales during the second GOP debate to U.S. veterans.
In a letter to CNN President Jeff Zucker, Trump noted the first GOP debate on Fox News had an audience of nearly 24 million, and as a result, CNN raised its rates for ad sales during the Sept. 16 debate by 4,000%. Trump also claimed that the “tremendous increase in viewer interest and advertising is 100% due to ‘Donald J. Trump.'”
“I believe that all profits from this broadcast should go to various VETERANS groups,” Trump wrote. “The veterans of our country, our finest people, have been treated horribly by the government and it’s ‘all talk and no action’ politicians.”
Trump, who noted that he is funding his own campaign, also wrote that he has “always felt that we have to be helping our veterans far more than we do.”
“That is why my campaign is so focused on these great people who have done so much for us,” Trump explained. “This large contribution of many millions of dollars would be a truly wonderful thing for CNN to do.”
According to The New York Times, Trump said that during his time at the New York Military Academy, a prep school where his parents enrolled him to correct poor behavior, he “always felt that I was in the military.”
Trump, who received several draft deferments during the Vietnam War and has never served in the military, also claimed that the prep school gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”
Trump also gained attention in June when he was asked about Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and he said that McCain’s prisoner-of-war status kept him from being a war hero.
“He’s not a war hero,” Trump said. “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”
According to the results of CNN/ORC poll published on Thursday, Trump maintains his spot as the GOP frontrunner and has surged to 32% support.
Forty-four veterans of the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines have launched a campaign calling on drone operators to refuse to fly drone surveillance and attack missions. The veterans are working with KnowDrones.com to distribute a letter and airing a 15-second television commercial as part of the “Refuse to Fly” initiative.
The commercial has aired on CNN, FoxNews, MNBC and other networks in areas near drone intelligence and control centers, including Las Vegas near Creech Air Force Base, in northern California near Beale AFB, upstate New York near Hancock Air National Guard base outside Syracuse and the Air Guard base near Niagara Falls. The paid ads were partially covered by members of Veterans for Peace.
The 44 veterans who signed the letter are calling on “United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions. These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.”
Some of the veterans include former U.S. Army Captain and CIA official Ray McGovern; former U.S. Navy Lt. Barry Ladendorf, president of Veterans for Peace; and former U.S. Army Sgts. Aaron Hughes and Maggie Martin, co-directors of Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Regarding the legality of refusing military orders, the group says drone operators are legally allowed to refuse the orders.
“Those involved in United States drone operations who refuse to participate in drone missions will be acting in accordance with Principle IV of the Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Judgment of the Tribunal, The United Nations 1950,” that states:
“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him of responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.”
Nick Mottern, coordinator of KnowDrones.com, says the organizers feel “it is perfectly legitimate to advise military people to stop taking part in illegal activity that has killed thousands without due process, is terrorizing thousands more and is wracking their own ranks with moral injury and PTSD.”
In response to the letter and campaign, an Air Force spokesman said drone pilots are acting within the law when flying missions.
“Our remotely piloted aircraft operators perform a critically important mission that contributes significantly to national defense,” Lt. Col. Christopher Karns said in an email to Military Times. “They are professional and comply with applicable law, policies, and adhere to very exacting procedures.”
Lt. Col Karns also questioned the 6,000 deaths being touted by KnowDrones.com. It is difficult to know exactly how many civilians have been killed under the U.S. drone program since official numbers are not recorded, however Senator Lindsey Graham estimated that 4,700 people have been killed.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the CIA carried out 27 drone strikes in Pakistan during 2013, and 38 in Yemen, including the now infamous attack on December 12, 2013 that killed 15 people at a wedding. TBIJ estimates over 2,400 deaths in the first 5 years of the Obama administration.
In March 2014 TruthInMedia reported that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights called upon the United States and other responsible governments to publicly investigate civilian deaths at the hands of drones.
In September 2014 TruthInMedia also spoke with Heather Linebaugh about her experience with United States Air Force from 2009 until March 2012. Linebaugh worked in intelligence as an imagery analyst and geo-spatial analyst for the drone program in Iraq and Afghanistan. Linebaugh is suffering from PTSD and works to promote natural treatments such as Cannabis, Yoga, and meditation.
During the rush to war, politicians often offer platitudes about supporting the troops, but, when veterans return home to civilian society, their needs are typically and tragically ignored. Many modern American soldiers serve through multiple tours of duty and subsequently come home suffering from conditions like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Suicide rates among young veterans have been climbing at an alarming pace, demonstrating the mental health epidemic that faces many soldiers returning from the battlefield.
The Gazette recently reported on a Colorado nonprofit group, launched by Army veteran Roger Martin, called Operation Grow4Vets. The organization, which seeks to help veterans acquire medical marijuana to help with the conditions they suffered during military service, hosted two events recently at which free medical cannabis products were given to those who served their country. ABC 7 News Denver provided video coverage, seen in the above-embedded player, of the first of the medical marijuana giveaways, which took place in Denver at a Quality Inn on September 20. The second event took place on September 27 at a hotel in Colorado Springs.
According to CBS News, hundreds of people showed up for the Denver giveaway, and The Gazette estimated that 1,000 people gathered at the Colorado Springs event. Those who attended were given a gift bag including edible cannabis, cannabis oil, and seeds to grow their own medical marijuana. ABC 7 News Denver described the quantity given out as a “week’s supply.”
Only adults 21 and over were allowed at the event, and non-veterans were invited but encouraged to provide a $20 donation. At the Denver giveaway, organizers also announced the launch of the Save 1,000 Vets Project, an initiative aimed at preventing veteran suicides.
“So many veterans have told me that cannabis is absolutely the only thing that helps them cope with PTSD,” Operation Grow4Vets founder Roger Martin told ABC 7 News Denver. Martin discovered firsthand the medical benefits of edible cannabis when he opted to try it in an effort to wean himself off of prescription drugs. Now, he wants other veterans to experience the relief that he found through cannabis. He told The Gazette, “It isn’t going to hurt them as much as the prescription drugs.”
OperationGrow4Vets plans to have more cannabis giveaways in the future. In Colorado, adults 21 and over are legally allowed to purchase and receive marijuana and related products.
Ben Swann recently launched a brand-new Truth in Media episode in which he exposes the truth about medical marijuana and cannabis oil. Watch his expose in the video player found below.
Updated: It now appears that Lopez is not the man in the Kileen Daily Herald photo from 2010, also identified as Ivan Lopez, part of the the 1st Battalion Warrior Transition Brigade. Though, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley did say that Lopez was being treated for mental health issues
“We do know that this soldier had behavioral health and mental health issues and was being treated for that,” said Milley.
Over the next few days we will learn much more about the man authorities have identified as the Ft. Hood shooter.
Four people are confirmed dead and at least 14 people are injured following Wednesday nights shooting at the army post.
The shooter has now been identified as 34 year-old Ivan Lopez. Early reports indicated there may have been two shooters. Reports also indicate the shooting began as a dispute between soldiers.
What do we know about Ivan Lopez? At this point, not much but Specialist Lopez appears to have been part of the 1st Battalion, Warrior Transition Brigade. This is a brigade Ft. Hood describes as a place for mental and physical healing for soldiers returning from combat.
According to Ft. Hood’s website, “The Warrior Transition Brigade provides command and control, primary care, and case management for warriors who have suffered injury or illness while serving as a member of the U.S. Army. We ensure the each Service Member receives the appropriate medical care and administrative processing that is needed to return to duty.”
In this photo from the Killeen Daily Herald in 2010, Spc. Ivan Lopez was photographed as he ties a fly during an instructional class at Fort Hood.
The Fort Hood Herald refers to the Warrior Transitional Brigade as a program that “accepts Soldiers injured in combat, those with chronic medical conditions, those who are seriously ill, those with mental or emotional conditions, and Soldiers injured during training or off duty.”
The soldiers who are moved over to the WTB are in need of serious care.
“When Soldiers require at least six months of complex medical care, their doctors can put in a packet for them to be moved over to the WTB, where the Soldier’s only mission will be to heal and prepare for transition.”
As we have reported, with the tens of thousands of men and women returning home from combat, there are serious mental health issues that these soldiers are facing from PTSD to traumatic brain injuries, etc. These issues are very serious and something the American people must demand are dealt with.
With military veterans making up 50% of the homeless population in America, we owe this generation more than to just continually send these men and women off to war and while we spend billions in tax dollars looking for the next field of combat, lawmakers are cutting the costs of treating our soldiers.
It really is stranger than fiction. After Ben Swann reported yesterday with exclusive images and video of the weekend’s veteran protest in DC, the Obama administration re-barricaded the WWII memorial today. Protesters had removed the gates and placed them in front of the White House.
Charlie Spiering with the Washington Examiner tweeted the below picture of freshly placed gates surrounding the WWII memorial.
The Obama administration continues to play theatrics, which is, in fact, costing the tax-payers money. For those who have never been to Washington, these memorials have no staff or gates. They are open air memorials, which are accessible 24 hours a day- 7 days a week. The only time the memorials are not accessible is when money is spent to hire workers and rent equipment to wall them off.
Sunday morning, 2,000- 3,000 veterans, family members and citizens gathered at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. There, the veterans took apart the barricades set up by Park Police to keep visitors out of the WWII Memorial, placed the barricades on their shoulders and carried them away.
The protestors who included veterans of the Korean, Vietnam, WWII, Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, took those barricades and carried them about 3/4ths of a mile to a sidewalk in front of White House and piled the barricades there.
The protest had several facets to it, but began as a push back against the closure of open-air memorials in Washington D.C. as a result of the government shutdown. As we have reported, these veterans are furious, saying that these memorials are being closed down in order to inflict pain on veterans and their families. Already, WWII vets taking part in Honor Flights, have pushed past these barricades to enter the memorial.
“Part of the reason we are out here is because the government is refusing to pay for soldiers’ funerals”, one protestor told our reporter, Sonya Sandage.
In addition to the memorials being closed down, $100,000 payments are no longer being made to the families of soldiers who are killed in combat. The growing list of soldiers who have died in combat include 5 U.S. soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan just over a week ago. The payments, however, are not being made because of the government shutdown. The U.S. government provides these payments to help to pay for funeral expenses and travel for family members.
It is important to note that over the past two weeks the Republican Congress, who has initiated the government shutdown, has passed a bill that would reinstate these payments. But that bill cannot get an up-or-down vote in the Democrat controlled Senate.
For the most part Sunday’s protest was incident-free. There was one moment when 4 protestors who put their backs against the iron gate in front of the White House and linked their arms through it. One police officer in riot gear attempted pull the protestors off the fence but as the crowd seemed to become angry, the officer appeared to back away. About 25 horse-mounted Park Police also kept a close eye on the protestors but again, without incident.
Police show up:
Here are some additional pictures from the protest:
World War II Veterans taking part in an “honor flight” pushed their way into the national World War II Memorial, Tuesday. The memorial had been closed due to the federal government’s shutdown which began at 12:01 AM, Tuesday morning.
The honor flight is a national organization that provides free flights to and from Washington D.C. for World War II Veterans. For many of these veterans, this is the first and only time they have visited the National Memorial.
According to reports from Leo Shane, a reporter with Stars and Stripes, about 8-12 members of Congress distracted park police while the veterans knocked over barricades to gain entry to the memorial.
According to Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, in some cases, it was only police tape that separated the veterans from the Memorial. In that case, Bachmann says she cut the tape to allow entry for the vets.
Shane, reporting via twitter says that there has been no attempt to stop those vets from visiting the memorial. He goes on to post “maybe after the congressmen leave.”
95-year-old WWII vet John Wrana was killed by police after he resisted medical care in his nursing home last month.
According to the Chicago Tribune, nursing home staff said Wrana was being “combative” as he resisted involuntary medical treatment. Apparently, he was so opposed to receiving the care that he was threatening to harm employees with his cane and shoehorn. A police press release states that the elderly man went so far as to pick up a large knife as well.
Eventually police were called and showed up on the scene to try and calm the old man down. After repeated attempts to calm Wrana down failed, officers used a Taser on him. They then proceeded to shoot him with bean bags.
It was then that Wrana fell on the ground. He was taken to the hospital almost immediately, where he died the next morning. His death was a direct result of the police abuse. Specifically, he died from the bean bags that were shot at him from a 12-gauge shotgun.
Nicholas Grapsas is an attorney who represents Wrana’s family. He said, “This was a literal war hero. It’s outright insulting when you have such lack of respect for someone who served our country to the extent he did.”
There are several key aspects in this case that point to the policemen’s actions being unwarranted.
For one, witnesses who were present during the incident did not see Wrana holding a knife at anytime, despite the police press release stating the fact. Secondly, the old man was sitting in a chair during the entire incident. It is hard to believe that seasoned police officers would not be able to handle an elderly man who used a walker.
Once the police came on the scene, staff members were not allowed in the room with Wrana any longer. Several employees asked to try and calm Wrana down again, but were refused. Grapas said, “At some point, I’m told there were between five and seven police officers, they went back to the room with a riot shield in hand, entered the door and shot him with a shotgun that contained bean-bag rounds.”
Given the information available, it seems likely that unnecessary force was used against Wrana.
Although the old man was described as “independent,” no one knew him to be dangerous.
Still, it is important not to make judgements since we do not know exactly what made the officers decide to carry out their actions.
Do you think this is a clear case of police power abuse? Or is more clarity needed to make a judgement? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.