Celebrate Our Veterans: Get to know Operation EVAC

Happy Veterans Day! Watch this video to learn all about Operation EVAC: Educating Veterans About Cannabis. VapeXhale CEO, Seibo Shen sits down with OP EVAC co-founder and facilitator, Ryan Miller for an in depth discussion on veterans, cannabis, PTSD, meditation and the importance of camaraderie.

Read Seibo's recap of his first OP EVAC experience below.

Operation EVAC

This past weekend, I had the honor and privilege to attend a meeting held by Operation EVAC.  EVAC stands for educating veterans about cannabis and is run by a vet, Ryan Miller, and I was admittedly, more nervous than I usually am.  Operation EVAC’s goal is to give veterans a safe space to share stories and to get educated on how to use medical cannabis to deal with PTSD.  Although I have personally benefitted from cannabis, I have not been in the military and I wasn’t sure what to expect or if they would be as open as they usually are with a civilian there.

I got to the meeting area at 10am sharp, signed in, and grabbed a seat.  The question of the day was, “When is it ok to use military force?”  We were all given a chance to think about our answer and I looked around the room and noticed how diverse the group was.  The youngest individual was in his 20s and the oldest looked to be in her 60-70s, and there were white, black, latino, and one lady who looked to be part Asian.  I was very eager to hear what they all had to say since they served at different times and fought in different wars.

Every single person started by talking about when we should and shouldn’t use force but all of them eventually started talking about their personal stories.  Some joined the military for patriotic reasons, others joined out of necessity, but one thing was consistent, they all believed that when they came back, they were not treated well.  One of the most pervasive themes is that they are teaching boys and girls in their teens and early 20s how to become killing machines but there is no training on how to integrate back into society. This is where it became very apparent to me that not only do we have a broken system, but we are destroying our country’s best asset, our people.

Each veteran told a story of personal sacrifice, of having good and terrifying times with their fellow soldiers, then coming back home and not having the right support system to integrate back with our society.  One vet told me that he couldn’t even listen to the news anymore because what he reads and what he knows to be true no longer reconciles.  Another was so worried for her son that she was looking for medical cannabis for him while he was still in uniform.  Another felt that the soldiers did all the dirty work only for those that are in power to become even more powerful and once they were no longer a resource, they were tossed away.  I had read about these stories online and in the newspaper but to hear them in real life, to hear the tone of the hurt in their voices, for once in my life, I was utterly speechless.

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After everyone in the circle had a chance to speak, we ended the meeting with a 20 minute guided meditation.  I already meditate every day so I took this opportunity to look at what everyone was doing during the guided meditation.  Much to my surprise, every single person there had their eyes closed, breathing deeply, following along and when the session was over, everyone looked at least a few years younger from just 20 minutes of being stress free.  I was very happy that Ryan had been teaching them how to be present and how, if only for 20 minutes at a time, they could be in control of their experience.  

For me, this was an eye opening experience with many positive takeaways.  One, if you haven’t spoken to a veteran about their experience being deployed, do it.  You might have a different idea of what war is really like.  Two, we need to have a better system to help our veteran when they come back.  We trained them to kill, we need to train them to be successful in civilian life.  Third, we all need to have more empathy for one another.  Some of the people admitted that they did some really horrific things in the name of America and were having such a tough time dealing with the consequences.  I think a lot of people would say things like, “I would/could never do that!” but maybe in a life or death situation, they absolutely would.  

By listening to their stories and not judging them for their actions, I was able to better connect with the struggle of veterans and what they need to help themselves.  I am thankful that there are people like Ryan Miller who can both represent the cannabis plant and veterans at such a high level.  Lastly, I appreciate all the veterans that were open enough to let me participate and hear their personal stories. I was already supportive of them but now I realize how much the Vapexhale EVO can aid in their reintegration to society.  If you are a veteran and would like a Vapexhale EVO but can’t afford one, contact us and we will figure out a way to help you get access to one and work within your budget.

Learn more about Operation EVAC at www.opevac.org

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