Founders of the HVCA believe a holistic approach to healing that includes cannabis, camaraderie and community outreach is most effective at treating PTSD.
The Hawaii Veteran’s Cannabis Alliance, or HVCA, is a veteran-founded community organization. The founders created the HVCA to reduce the frequency of veteran suicide in America through three primary areas: cannabis, camaraderie and community outreach (C3).
“A happy and healthy community is not a fairytale. All you need is a seed.”
— NADIA Shabazz
The HVCA began when 2 veterans agreed that too many of our brothers and sisters in arms fall at their own hands. The first meeting was held on the patio of a local bar and had less than 10 veterans in attendance. Since its creation in April 2015, the HVCA has grown into a multi-chapter organization that helps veterans gain legal access to medical grade cannabis affordably, provides guidance for cannabis therapy, gives lessons in growing plant medicine and has a support system of like-minded individuals with experience-based understanding of the unique issues veterans face in their every day lives.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, most commonly referred to as PTSD, contributes significantly to a veteran’s likelihood of committing suicide. Founders of the HVCA believe a holistic approach to healing that includes cannabis, camaraderie and community outreach is most effective at treating PTSD.
Cannabis enables veterans to establish a healthy emotional detachment from past traumatic experiences. This detachment allows veterans the opportunity to process through these events with increasing objectivity. The ability to defuse the emotional charge associated with traumatic events allows veterans the opportunity to grow and move beyond their past experiences.
Camaraderie functions as a normative tool that focuses toward providing veterans the emotional safety and understanding that is essential to discussing past trauma. While not every veteran is comfortable sharing their own story, knowing other veterans have encountered similar past experiences is valuable to all veterans. Camaraderie allows veterans to come together and talk story, to talk about trauma from a shared perspective, one rarely shared by people without military experience.
The final component of the C3 approach is Community Outreach. Generally speaking, veterans join the military with the desire to live a life contributing toward a better future for their community. Often veterans leave the military with this desire intact. Community outreach programs give veterans the chance to reinvest their time and energy into projects that better the community. This can fulfill the veterans’ desire to continue giving back to the communities we call home, as well as provide veterans with a sense of daily purpose and accomplishment.