Veterans Cannabis Group
Aaron Augustis served in the US Army as a Combat Engineer, Team Leader Sergeant. He enlisted June of 1998 from his home state of California and deployed to Mosul, Iraq in 2003 with the 37th Engineer Battalion Combat Airborne out of Fort Bragg, NC. His experience in Iraq led to him his current efforts of advocating for veterans to have access to medical cannabis for their service connected disabilities, especially combat PTSD.
When Aaron redeployed from Iraq he underestimated the transition from military life to civilian life. “In Iraq you have to suck it up and contain your emotions so you can complete your daily missions without getting yourself or your team killed. I felt like a soda bottle that was shook up constantly for seven months, then put back on the self and left to explode. You have to bottle up your emotions while on deployment and eventually those tucked away feelings come exploding out uncontrollably. Cannabis helped me calm down from my intense and very stressful experience. After smoking I was able to relax and calm myself enough to realize that I was in California and that everything was ok. I was not in a hostile war environment anymore.”
Aaron founded the Veterans Cannabis Group and helps educate, network, support, and be a resource for our nation’s veterans who use medical cannabis. Through the Veterans Cannabis Group, he has formed partnerships with other cannabis businesses and groups to ensure that veterans have an opportunity for employment. Aaron helps employ veterans through Hard Car Security which provides security and armored transportation for the cannabis industry. Veterans are a natural fit for this type of work because of their combat military training and recent boots on the ground experience from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Aaron did not connect with the Veterans Health Administration until 2011, eight years after he was discharged from the military. He, like many other veterans Aaron has met, wanted little or nothing to do with the VA or the Department of Defense after he was honorably discharged. Thankfully for Aaron, he met his local Veterans Service Officer who encouraged him to enroll in the VHA. From there Aaron found many VHA services to be extremely beneficial and received the health care benefits he earned through serving his country.
“I advise all veterans that they should enroll in the VHA and get the services and benefits they are entitled to and deserve. I also highly recommend counseling for any veteran who served in a combat zone. We do not advocate cannabis as a cure all, but as a medicinal tool that should be incorporated with other healthy tools and lifestyle choices. Do not feel like you have to do it on your own. You have already earned these amazing benefits, you just have to request for access to them”