Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
A Florida congressman is pushing federal protections for vets who use marijuana
NORTH PORT, Fla. — Staggered by the burgeoning numbers of veteran suicides, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube said on Wednesday he supports removing marijuana from its wrongly classified Schedule 1 status.
"And I think you'd be surprised by the amount of Republicans that would support it," said the Sarasota Republican, who added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would likely block a descheduling bill. But Steube said a vote would enjoy broad bipartisan support in the House and could come up for a vote this session.
"I think as you're seeing a younger generation of elected officials — I mean, look at (Florida Gov. Ron) DeSantis and some of the things he's done — and their positions on those issues are very different."
Steube's remarks followed a town hall meeting sponsored by Concerned Veterans of America at the Suncoast Technical College Conference Center. The nation's suicide epidemic among veterans and active-duty personnel — 20.6 self-inflicted fatalities a day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs — cast a shadow across the forum, even as many gathered to hear about the latest wrinkles in the Mission Act.
Passed in 2018 to give veterans better access to VA health care, the new regulations will go into effect on June 6. The new law allows patients who've been waiting for more than 20 days or who drive more than 30 miles to enter a VA facility to visit a community doctor closer to their residences. The expansion is huge, as it opens new avenues of services to roughly 40 percent of the veteran population. Under current rules, just 8% of veterans have those options.
But solving the suicide epidemic has no easy fix, as Steube told a crowded meeting room. In fact, there's so much misinformation about what veterans in Florida and other medical marijuana-legal states are liable for with their medical-cannabis prescriptions, the House freshman said he intends to introduce a bill to codify protection for veterans whose urinalyses may test positive for marijuana.
"The directive is, you can't be denied VA services, but I've heard from veterans in my own district who say they've been told otherwise ... So I have a bill to make it law that if you live in a state that has lawfully opened up medicinal marijuana and you have a recommendation for a prescription ... you cannot lose those VA benefits."
A member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Steube calls the suicide epidemic a crisis that can't ignore any potential remedies. He says the VA is trying to be proactive in its screening procedures, but the numbers continue to skyrocket.
"So just in the last 18 months, 34 service members have committed suicide in a Veterans Affairs hospital or clinic — in the actual place that's supposed to be taking care of them ... And if anybody here has a solution to that problem, or ways we can identify service members who are in a higher risk for that category ... I'm all ears to that."
Last year, the Herald-Tribune published a special section on veterans advocating cannabis over opioids to relieve their post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other wounds. Among the suicide victims was 23-year-old Rory Dalgliesh, an Afghanistan combat veteran who shot himself to death shortly before mustering out of the Marine Corps. His father, Rotunda West resident Michael Dalgliesh, was among those who turned out to hear Steube.
Wearing a yellow shirt bearing Rory's photo and the words "Walking to Remember My Son United States Marine American Hero," Dalgliesh stood at a major intersection in April, for one hour a day, 22 straight days, attempting to draw attention to veteran suicides with flags and signs.
"I came here today because I just wanted to talk to a Congressman about what our government is doing about this," Dalgliesh said. "I wear this shirt every day. I think about Rory every day."
Marijuana has been classified as a dangerous drug with no medicinal value since 1970. More than 2 million Americans have medical marijuana prescriptions today, but the VA is barred from dispensing cannabis to troops and veterans because of the federal law.
©2019 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Fla.. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
SEE ALSO: Meet The Former Air Force Test Pilot Who Broke Into The Marijuana Industry And Wants You To Join Him
WATCH NEXT: The Canadian Military Now Has Pot And Beards
STOCKTON — Diane Wright opened the door of an apartment at The Oaks at Inglewood, the assisted care facility in Stockton where she is the executive director. Inside, three people busily went through postal trays crammed with envelopes near a table heaped with handmade gifts, military memorabilia, blankets, quilts, candy and the like.
Operation Valentine has generated a remarkable outpouring of support from around the world for retired United States Marine, Maj. Bill White. Earlier this month, a resident at The Oaks, Tony Walker, posted a request on social media to send Valentine's Day cards to the 104-year-old World War II veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart.
Walker believed Maj. White would enjoy adding the cards to his collection of memorabilia. The response has been greater than anyone ever thought possible.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
A spokesman for the Taliban has told a Pakistani newspaper that the militant group is hoping to reach an Afghan peace deal with U.S negotiators by the end of January.
The comments by Suhail Shaheen on January 18 to the Dawn newspaper come after negotiators from the Taliban and the United States met for two days of talks in Qatar.
The three Americans killed in a C-130 air tanker crash while fighting Australian bushfires on Thursday were all identified as military veterans, according to a statement released by their employer, Coulson Aviation.
The oldest of the three fallen veterans was Ian H. McBeth, a 44-year-old pilot who served with the Wyoming Air National Guard and was an active member of the Montana Air National Guard. McBeth "spent his entire career flying C-130s and was a qualified Instructor and Evaluator pilot," said Coulson Aviation. He's survived by his wife Bowdie and three children Abigail, Calvin and Ella.
MIAMI/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will release details of his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House next week.
The political aspects of the peace initiative have been closely guarded. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled.
The Pentagon moved a total of $35 trillion among its various budget accounts in 2019, Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg first reported.
That does not mean that the Defense Department spent, lost, or could not account for $35 trillion, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C.
"It means money that DoD moved from one part of the budget to another," Clark explained to Task & Purpose. "So, like in your household budget: It would be like moving money from checking, to savings, to your 401K, to your credit card, and then back."