Speaking from Charlottetown, N.B. Cory Pike told Goodleaf he joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2001. He served for 14 years. He is now working with Marijuana for Trauma (MFT). Their organization helps soldiers regain a normal life — Veterans helping Veterans — soldiers protecting soldiers.
Fabian Henry, CEO of MFT founded the organization following his diagnosis of PTSD in 2007. Now he has brought together hundreds of Veterans helping Veterans. The group is always ready and willing to assist other first-responder professionals to get access to alternative medicine that works.
After Pike was injured, he said, he went looking for an alternative medicine that could he use to help with PTSD, chronic pain, joints, high anxiety, major depression, OCD, etc. He found cannabis and it worked. Pike added that he had smoked street marijuana for relief while he served in the military. The stigma associated with using cannabis still prevents many soldiers for finding relief. When asked why he chose cannabis, he stated quite simply: "I wanted to come off all the pills, I needed to basically rid my body of everything I took."
Cannabis therapy is the most prominent service-resource offered by MFT; however, it is not their only channel to help Veterans. Pike told Goodleaf: “We have Dr. Smith. He's our main go-to doctor. He deals with the guys with PTSD and chronic pain, he also provides neurological feedback with a brain map for MFT, and it's all free."
Pike is part of a peer-support network of Veterans throughout Canada called ‘Cannabis Coaches.’ In addition to being the Vice-President of MFT National in New Brunswick, Pike is also a cannabis coach himself.
The recovery process administered by MFT reaches out to the spouses/partners and loved ones of the Veterans to achieve a more holistic recovery. The cannabis coach fosters a close relationship with the Veteran who is seeking a marijuana prescription.
While working one-on-one with the Veteran, the Cannabis Coach is consulting with the spouse/partner of the client. They all operate as a big team towards recovery. In his role as a Cannabis Coach, Pike has forged strong personal relationships with over five hundred MFT patrons. He has first contact, so the doctors will talk to him to better understand the patient and administer their diagnosis. After the doctor has determined their diagnosis, and a medical marijuana prescription has been legally granted, the team at MFT is there to help the Veterans understand the legal marijuana system in Canada.
MFT applies their experience towards making sure that each Veteran they are supporting is getting all the entitlements they have earned. “We ask them, ‘what are you receiving right now?" They could be just getting their military pension and not know they are entitled to other support programs,” said Pike. Pike added: "We are there to help right from the paperwork, to the ordering, to showing you how to vaporize, house visits. There are so many things that we're involved in."
The support network of Cannabis Coaches at MFT strives to provide personal support for each one of their patrons. The cannabis coach communicates regularly with their clients. “We have a good relationship so we know individual clients like certain strains. They could like really good daytime Sativas but also like Indicas. But they're using them the wrong way. They're using Indicas during the day and Sativas at night.”
MFT advocates for Veterans rights in the political arena as well.
Although making cannabis an election issue in 2015 is difficult when the door towards your opportunity to speak is shut in your face. A group of Veterans from Marijuana for Trauma were blocked from entering the campaign venue where Stephen Harper was speaking to a crowd of carefully selected supporters. The Veterans weren’t even allowed in the building.
Our Canadian Veterans were not permitted to speak to the politicians running the country — which many of them risked their lives to defend.
MFT Cannabis Coaches are needed in Canada.
MFT has tapped into a significant need to keep growing, and providing these services across Canada. The organization intends to expand. At present, MFT has four offices: St. John's, Newfoundland; Sydney, Cape Breton; New Brunswick National Office; and an office in Markam, ON. Each office has their own President and Vice President of the Chapter. Pike said, "the goal is to have 50 MFT offices across Canada in five years."
MFT also just opened New Brunswick's first medical marijuana vapour room in Oromocto, near the 5th Canadian Division Support Base, Gagetown.
"Success stories, yeah, seeing people get relief from using CBD. CBD gives no psychoactive impairment. It is just amazing watching people that are shaking — not shake anymore,” Pike said. "The relief from the medical cannabis it's pretty… it's pretty awesome." The outlook is getting better all the time for Canadian Veterans having ease of access to medical marijuana that truly helps heal. "We've very positive.” Said Pike, “Cannabis, obviously, has turned our lives around from being in the dumps to 'oh wow' I can do everything. It increased our quality of life. It made it more positive."
Pike was quite open about his feelings of pride and gratitude for the staff at Canada’s Veteran’s Affairs adding: "I'm so grateful to Veteran's Affairs, they cover my own prescription at ten grams a day. If I didn't have their coverage, I'd be looking at a hefty bill every month which I would not be able to afford."
Regrettably, the Conservative government recently opted to close a number of Veteran’s Affairs offices across Canada. MFT intends to step-in and fill that service gap on behalf of our Veterans.
"It's 2015, it's an alternative medicine. So everybody should be on board. Especially with the law that just passed. Now we can have it in any form for marijuana users with a license. It's great, things are finally turning around."
"It's all about education right now."
Pike ended the interview saying “if anybody needs to come through us they can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us questions. That's what we're there for — Veterans helping Veterans.”