Lawmakers in Michigan last week passed a resolution in which they called on members of the United States Congress, as well as the Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs, to “prioritize research and investment in non-technology treatment options for servicemembers and veterans who have psychological trauma as a result of military service.”
The resolution spans three pages and was sponsored by more than 20 members of the Michigan legislature. It was approved in the state Senate last Thursday.
The measure makes reference to the severe psychological toll endured by members of the military, noting that the “men and women who voluntarily sign-up to serve our nation in the United States Armed Forces, and the additional uniformed services, generally do so with an understanding that such service may ultimately impact their physical and mental well-being,” and that they “may have experiences that increase the risk for developing behavioral health problems, including traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.”
“Effective treatment options for these conditions vary from servicemember to servicemember,” the resolution says.
“Non-technology treatment options, such as buddy-to-buddy programs, controlled use of psychedelics in clinical settings, outdoor therapy, and easier access to service animals, among others, have shown promise to help veterans improve their mental health and find a new normal while dealing with the invisible wounds of war and service,” it continues.
The resolution said that the “families of servicemembers must also not be forgotten, and resources should be made available to help them understand and assist their loved ones who may be suffering from psychological trauma. Family members of servicemembers or veterans with behavioral health problems may experience family violence and aggression, lower parenting satisfaction, and child behavior problems,” and that resources “should include services that will help family members deal with the impacts of their family members’ service.”
Psychedelics continue to gain support as a potential treatment option for those suffering from mental health conditions, including military veterans, who often return from combat with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In July, a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill came together to include a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that directs the Department of Defense to research psychedelic treatment in military facilities.
The group was headlined by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.
“This is a real wild coalition,” Crenshaw said at the time.
“Psychedelics have shown so much promise,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We desperately need the resources to treat PTSD, traumatic brain injury and depression. At least one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments.”
Earlier this year, the brother of President Joe Biden indicated that the chief executive is open to psychedelic treatment.
“He is very open-minded,” Frank Biden said in an interview then.
“Put it that way. I don’t want to speak; I’m talking brother-to-brother. Brother-to-brother,” he added. “The question is, is the world, is the U.S. ready for this? My opinion is that we are on the cusp of a consciousness that needs to be brought about to solve a lot of the problems in and around addiction, but as importantly, to make us aware of the fact that we’re all one people and we’ve got to come together.”
Ocasio-Cortez, however, seems unconvinced by the president’s openness. The New York congresswoman pointed to Biden’s record on cannabis reform, which does include a historic pardon of those with federal pot convictions, but is also highlighted by a stubbornness to fully embrace legalization. Biden has previously suggested that he is open to decriminalization of pot, but not an outright end to prohibition.
“I believe the president has displayed a regressiveness for cannabis policy,” she said in July. “And if there’s a regressiveness toward cannabis policy, it’s likely to be worse on anything else.”
The lawmakers in Michigan hope there are favorable conditions for reform in Washington.
“The need to address veteran mental health is of key importance in Michigan. In 2021, it was reported that there were 554,281 veterans living in Michigan, making Michigan rank eleventh out of fifty-three states and territories in veteran population,” the resolution said. “However, between 2016 and 2020, it was reported that there were 882 Michigan veterans who died by suicide.”
The lawmakers said they “urge the United States Congress, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs to prioritize research and investment in non-technology treatment options for servicemembers and veterans who have psychological trauma as a result of military service.”
They also resolved that copies of their resolution “be transmitted to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the President of the United States Senate, the Chair and Ranking Members of the Committees on Veterans Affairs and Armed Services, and the members of the Michigan congressional delegation.”