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Continuing the Fight – Veteran Priorities for 2024

Transitions & Sustainment
Transitions & Sustainment
January 1, 2024
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The wrapping paper is put away, the decorations stowed in their plastic tubs beneath the stairs, and the champaign is either finished or will be sitting on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator door for the next six months. With another holiday firmly behind us and another cold month or two before the new year seems to really start in earnest, this is a perfect time to get our priorities straight. 

I am not speaking of the kinds of New Years’ Resolutions everyone makes to lose ten pounds or read more books (though both are perfectly fine goals), but of what real and lasting change can be manufactured in our country to leave it and its citizens better for the future. There are many worthy causes to consider, and no reason to limit yourself to just one, but allow me to offer a few important suggestions.

Food Insecurity

The Grunt Style Foundation aims to continue the work of feeding veterans, service members, and service member families which suffer from food insecurities. Given the current economic situation, even the benefits provided by military service don’t stretch as far as they used to. As inflation goes down, prices and sizes in the grocery store seem to stay as high as ever, leading to more money buying less food. When my father filled his pickup with groceries, it cost $100-150, depending on whether he stopped at the deli counter for muffalettas and such; when I buy three bags of groceries it feels like the register demands a blood sacrifice and a mortgage payment. Having been a junior enlisted service member, I know that sting is hitting them even harder.

In 2023, the Grunt Style Foundation delivered over 93,000 pounds of food at their quarterly deployments, which service Active duty service members across four military installations. Over the coming months, the Grunt Style Foundation will be coordinating more donations, drives, and deployment of volunteers to distribute food and supplies to those who need it in various locations throughout the United States. If you want to know more about how to assist the program or a specific deployment, keep an eye out on American Grit’s Foundation page for opportunities.

Mental Health

The advent of the internet, and to a greater degree social media, has begun the work of burning away the pernicious myth that mental health is only for crazy wackos who couldn’t hack it and broke under the strain. More and more people are seeing the truth of the matter that was there all along; warfare as we see it today is not normal. Experiencing it has a deleterious effect on the mind no matter how strong it is, and that is something that should be treated. Most people should go to therapy, don’t misunderstand, but one of the groups that need it the most is the same group that was told for generations to suck it up, feeling things is for women and puppies. 

No longer are we allowing this miscategorization to continue. If there is a seal loose on your car, the engine won’t function correctly. Maybe you can still drive it, but at what cost? How much damage is being done as you abuse the turbo and never get the oil changed?

The Triangular Compass is a program designed to assist the warfighter, the veteran, the person who needs to find their magnetic north again but can’t find their GM angle to get the help they need to course correct. The different tenants of the Triangular Compass are purpose built to take a look under the hood, find the crack in the drive belt, and hand you the tool to put on the new one. We have computers in our pockets and same day delivery; there is no longer an excuse for not making sure those who could use a friendly face and a steady hand to get them back on their path receive it.


Alright, I know what you might be thinking. Drugs, and especially hallucinogens like psilocybin (also known as magic mushrooms) are restricted for a reason. That may be true, but the real issue at hand is why. There is logic to the idea that free public consumption of unregulated hallucinogens will have risks to the public, however, that was said about cannabis as well. The categorization of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic, even calling it marijuana at all, was a propaganda move in the 1930’s to demonize certain politically convenient groups. Some of these compounds have been treated like some dirty hippy perversion for so long that the War on Drugs was started decades ago, costing an average of $15 billion annually with only more damage to marginalized communities as a result. 

As we begin to look back and ask why, with the advances in culture and science over almost a century, we haven’t put more effort into making better use of these compounds, we see the reasons all being nonsense. So, we move forward. Finally understanding the great toll that pain killers and other “safe” prescription drugs can take, scientists have tried other methods. Psilocybin in particular has been shockingly effective at treating Post Traumatic Stress, sometimes in a single microdose. In these laboratory settings, the dosage is carefully controlled, the patient monitored continuously, and the amount given is so small as to only induce a mild sense of euphoria, less than one would experience from a cannabis gummy.

Going back to cannabis, imagine being able to grow the painkillers you need for the back injury you sustained from being in a vehicle that hit an improvised explosive device in your back yard or a well-lit room. Less dangerous for your health than processed cigarettes, less addictive than Oxycontin or other prescriptions, cannabis regulated for specific relief of certain specific medical ailments isn’t even a new concept. Several states already issue medical use cards, which provide relief for the patients and tax revenue for the state. Any scenario where you AND the tax collectors both get to win has to be important.

No matter what you decide to prioritize in the coming year, choose something. If there is any lesson the military taught me, it is this; we all succeed best when we fight to succeed together. Few know what the fight costs better than us, so who better to keep the momentum going until each of our brothers and sisters are cared for?

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