VETERAN BIOGRAPHIES

This is from our class of 2017.

 

2017 Veteran #1 of 22,

Commander Thomas W. Mundell

Commander Mundell is a former member of the United States Army. He served two combat tours in Vietnam as an Aero Scout Gunner on Hunter/Killer Assault Teams performing Search and Destroy Operations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and later throughout the World. He was shot down eleven times during his Military and Civilian career.

During his military career he received the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal for Valor, Air Medal for Valor, Army Commendation Medal for Valor, four Purple Hearts, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Air Crewmember Wings and Parachutist Wings.

He served with the 135th Assault Helicopter Company, 335th Assault Helicopter Company, A Trp, 2/17 CAV, 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Special Forces Group during his military career.

Since his military career, he served with numerous Civilian and Department of Defense companies in Iran, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Africa, and South America and was an Attack Helicopter Senior Combat Technical Instructor for Bell Helicopter International.

Returning to St. Louis, he transitioned to McDonnell Douglas and became a Senior Product Service Training Instructor on the F-15 and F-18 Fighter Aircraft. He then became a Senior Training Instructor for Flight Safety International. Later he became CEO of Tactical Self-Defense and Combat Aviation Systems.

He is presently the Past State Commander for the Department of Missouri, Veterans of Foreign Wars and was recently elected as the Chairman of MAVO ( Missouri Association of Veteran Organizations) and is Chairman of the Board For the 501-C3 Missouri Veterans Foundation.

CERT Commander

SARTEC II, SEMA & FEMA Certified

International Fugitive Apprehension

POW-MIA Search & Awareness

Hostage crisis and negotiations

Military & Law Enforcement Training

International Weapons and Tactics Instructor

Humanitarian War Zone Infrastructure Development

Veteran benefits advisor & Public Speaker

Catastrophically Injured Veteran Mentor

He is a real American Hero and we are honored to have him join us in our mission to educate our veteran community.

 

 

 

Veteran #2 

Jeff Mizanskey!
Jeff served active duty in the Air Force from 1971-1975 & inactive until 1977. We are excited to have him with us on this educational experience.

 

 

Veteran #3:
Mike Oldham.


Mike served in the US Army for 20 active federal service years between December 1975 to December 1997 retiring as LTC Medical Service Corps. He currently serves as Chaplain of the AmVets Post 181.

His initial interest stems from his brother-in-law, who was a US Marine Corps corporal on the front lines in Vietnam, after watching him suffer while trying to find relief for his PTSD. His accounts led Mike to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and gave him a passion to help those with PTSD.

On a personal level he is hoping to learn more about how cannabis interacts with brain functions to better understand his recent diagnosis of epileptic seizure disorder.

Veteran #4:
Chris Wolfenbarger


Chris was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He grew up in Independence, MO until his parents moved to Lake Lotawana, a 750 acre lake southeast of Kansas City. This is where he truly developed his love of the outdoors. He spent every day he could on and around the water. He also excelled as a Boy Scout, eventually earning his Eagle Scout. His scouting experience helped guide his love and respect for the beauty of nature. Scouting developed his teamwork and leadership skills that he uses to this day.

Chris went to college at Central Missouri State University in 1987. He was an active member in his fraternity, Sigma Nu. It was during his fraternity days that he met his best friend and business partner Jason Ormiston. He graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing. After college he worked as an Outdoor Sales Representative for several years before being recruited by Jason to become an appraiser.

Chris is now a 45 year old father of three children. His wife’s name is Leah Sword and his children are Christian Sword, 16, Morgan Sword, 13, and Madison Wolfenbarger, 9. Appraising has proven to be his calling and he has been a successful Certified Residential Appraiser for the past 16 years.

As a true Patriot, he joined the National Guard in 2006, during two wars. Volumes can be spoken of his passion and determination simply because he volunteered to serve at age 38, when most service members are retiring. Chris joined to serve both worldwide on behalf of our Nation and also to assist relief efforts for stateside disasters. In order to better aid warriors and others in need, Chris joined the military to be a medic. Due to his outstanding abilities, he was asked to teach a combat lifesaver course to the 1141st Engineer Company before they deployed to war. His knowledge and his willingness to serve spoke for itself. It was at that time, he was asked to transfer to the unit before their deployment to Eastern Afghanistan.

Chris deployed with 1141st Engineer Company in 2009. He was one of only seven medics. The mission of the Company was route clearance, and it was extremely dangerous. The unit knew that almost every time they left the base, they would encounter an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Because every IED is meant to maim, destroy or kill, the company would not leave the base to conduct a mission without one of their medics.

As the Company searched and found IEDs, injuries–often several–would happen. Chris often had to treat the injured outside the vehicle which left him exposed to the enemy. There were many times that he had to provide aid while under fire or on uncleared portions of route. Chris was recognized many times by the Army for his service, but the award that he prizes above all others is the Combat Medic Badge awarded for treating the wounded while engaged with the enemy.

On February 12, 2010 while on a routine mission, the Company convoy approached a civilian vehicle. The Route Clearance Buffalo that he was riding in pulled up next to the vehicle to tell them to move out of the danger zone. Chris was looking into the eyes of a young man when he detonated the Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device or SVBIED. It was on that day that Chris and all the other warriors in the vehicle were wounded. The entire event was captured by the enemy to use as propaganda. The video can be seen at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=1d9_1269002798. Nothing is known about the first attack, but his is the second attack and starts at 1:18. The young man featured in the end of the video is the suicide bomber.

Chris was treated in country and finished his deployment. He was medically retired from service for combat wounds on Oct. 23rd, 2013. After his deployment he went back to appraising full time, but now his wife assists him. Leah left a successful career to help him better complete tasks that he once handled on his own.

Longing to get back to the outdoors and hoping to find the peace that it once held for him, Chris took his son and went on a sponsored warrior duck hunt. This was his first opportunity to duck hunt and he loved it. Fatefully, Chris met Ronny Sweger on that event. They bonded immediately. During his deployment to Afghanistan, Chris had even been at the base that Ronny and his team had secured and built in 2002. A relationship kindled through a simple outdoor adventure, Chris and Ronny have grown to be great friends.

Chris describes his military experience as “a normal American that served.” This perspective allows him to bridge the gap between the civilian patriots that want to support our military and the service members at large. His service has given him a first hand look at what the Special Operations community does for our Nation and our world. He has also seen daring acts of valor in combat. Chris has also endured, along with his warrior brothers, the repercussions of being wounded. After seeing these Exceptional Warriors at work in areas of the world that had been totally devastated by centuries of conflict, there was no way he could sit idly by when these true heroes needed the support that was extremely lacking.

In order to fill this crack in the dam before it burst, Chris encouraged his friend Ronny to found The Foundation for Exceptional Warriors, or “The FEW”. To better and directly support The FEW, Chris became an associate of The FEW in 2012. Due to his unparalleled work for The FEW he was asked and became a Senior Associate.

Chris has excelled as a Senior Associate on behalf of The FEW by constantly raising awareness for The FEW’s mission. He has been a guest on several radio and TV shows and spoken to many civic groups raising funds and awareness for the mission. He has solely coordinated and conducted many successful events for The FEW.

Due to his dedication and passion for the mission, Chris was asked to be on The FEW’s Board of Directors in 2014. Chris is both humbled and proud to be involved with The FEW and assist the world finest, America’s Exceptional Warriors.
 

Veteran # 5

AmVets post 181 Commander, Christine Dare!

Christine Dare hales from the great state of Wisconsin, where her vision of a military career in the Marines began to form. Christine knew that someday, she would be defending the country she so loved and wanted to give back of herself. As her high school years came to an end, her next step would be to enlist in the Marines. By the summer of 1983, Christine found herself in Parris Island, South Carolina, becoming the outstanding Marine that she is.
Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii was Christine’s first duty station, and this is when she met the love of her life, Douglas Dare, who was also a Midwestern that had a dream of serving our country.
Over the years, Chris found herself stationed at various bases throughout the United States, and supporting campaigns in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 and Alasaad, Iraq in 2006. Where ever she went Christine would make lifelong connections. These connections have served her well in her civilian life and as they say, “Once a Marine…Always a Marine!”
Upon retiring, Christine knew that it was time for her family. She and Doug managed to raise three wonderful children that accepted that both of their parents made a commitment to protect and defend the Constitution, but that also deserved to have both of their parents home. After proudly serving 24 years in the Marines, Christine felt it was time to retire. Her years of service placed her in a unique situation and made the next transition easy for her. She had the experience of a service member and related to those that felt they had lost their voice. She knew that she couldn’t just sit by and not help.
In the fall of 2012, she, and her husband Doug, who by this time had also retired from the Marines, decided to join AMVETS Post 181, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Christine jumped right in, helping where she could and supporting those that needed help. She and Doug campaigned many events with Post 181 that supported all service members within the Kansas City region. Their endeavors have allowed them to acquire Track Chairs for use by disabled veterans to be more mobile and enjoy the outdoors.
In April 2016, Christine was nominated for Commander of Post 181, and was elected Commander in May of 2016. During her time as post commander, Christine has been able to continue with traditions that have led her post in positive directions and saw donations in excess of over $42,000, which allowed them to purchase three more tank chairs. Her commitment to veterans and her community is beyond commendable. In June 2016, Christine completed 50 hours of specialized training and counseling to become a Hometown Support Volunteer with H.E.R.O.E.S Care, Inc. H.E.R.O.E.S (Home front Enabling Relationships, Opportunities, and Empowerment through Support) Care supports military families and service members before, during and after deployments.
During the summer, Christine enjoys camping with her husband of 33 years and spending time with her family that has grown by three amazing grandsons. Not only is it obvious the love she show her family and friends, but you can see it when she is able to help her fellow brother or sister in arms. Her dedication and commitment to others is definitely something we should all strive to accomplish.

Veteran #6:
Kyle William Kisner


Kyle served with the Missouri National Guard from June 22, 2004-June 21 2011 as a 25U (Signal Support Systems Specialist) and did two tours. He worked from January 2008 to June 2009 on the Missouri Military Funeral Honors team. He graduated the Blue River Fire Academy in Independence, MO and worked briefly as a Volunteer Firefighter-EMT with Smithville Fire Protection District.

Kyle joined between his Junior and Senior year (first year of eligibility) but shipped out to basic the summer after his Senior year. He got to basic in August 2005 and graduated late October. Immediately after that he went to AIT and graduated March 09, 2006.

Kyle has a history of military service in his family. His father served with the 101st and was on the Sinai Peninsula in the early 80's, his father served and so did his grandfather. On his mom's side his Grandpa was in Korea and he had several uncles on both sides who served, some in Vietnam others peace time Cold War era.

Kyle says ''After serving I wanted to study to be a paramedic but my difficulty re-adjusting post-military got in the way of all that along with physical ailments. I was diagnosed with FAI, hip impingement which is a developmental condition which the doctor told me was likely worsened by military service. After surgery I was informed that I had 90% joint degradation and was informed that I would need additional surgery in my 30's at the age of 25. Because I was in great pain the doctors did not hesitate to give me whatever I asked for whether it was Oxycodone or Xanax. It got out of hand fast and had me living a very horrendous lifestyle for a time. Attending this event is a chance to see life saving medication not just to vets but to anybody that needs it. I feel that is the sensible thing to do, the American thing to do.''

 

Veteran #7:
Josh Lee


''9,828 Smarties.
That’s a lot, isn’t it? That’s 9.5 pounds of Smarties; it took two separate bulk candy stores to fill the order, and I still had to unwrap 4.3 pounds of Smarties with my wife, Julia.
Here’s the thing: I’m prescribed 9,828 pills annually by the VA. I’m 100% disabled, unable to work or function in most social settings due to an unholy trifecta of PTSD, Fibromyalgia, and Arthritis (along with some other multiple minor percentages). On a daily basis, I’m munching opiates, narcotics, muscle relaxers, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotics… Oh, and let’s not forget, I need pills to control the side effects of the first pills.
I’m tired, boss. I’m so…damn…tired.
I’m tired of all the side effects. I’m tired of not feeling in control of my own body, my own healthcare, or my own choices. I’m tired of making the deliberate choice every day, as so many Americans of all walks of life do, to deliberately shorten my lifespan with these handfuls of pills, just to improve the quality of life for my wife and children. I’m tired of the government allowing pharmaceutical companies to donate to anti-medical marijuana initiatives, then introducing a synthetic form of THC and getting it through the FDA as a Schedule II drug (marijuana is a Schedule I substance, with “high chance for addiction and no potential medical use”).
Yes, there are other states where medical marijuana is legal. I refuse to uproot my wife’s career as a Licensed Professional Counselor, or my two children’s school careers, when instead I can stand my ground and fight for all patient’s rights, here in my home state of Missouri.
I am honored to be chosen for this documentary through Project-22, and I hope to encourage both our voters and our legislature to listen to science, reason, and the voice of all patients suffering quality of life medical issues. I don’t blame the VA; I don’t blame my doctors, for prescribing what they know are long term poisons; these are the only choices our government allows them. I blame the divisive, stagnant, and willfully ignorant policies that condemn a plant available as a truly self-tailored medication. Through this documentary, we will show the science and reason behind why medical marijuana is truly a life-saving choice for patients of all types, whether civilian or veteran.''
We are excited to have Josh with us on this trip. Please welcome him!

Veteran # 8:
John Wingate


John explains his reasons for joining us:

“As a field corpsman in the marines from 1961-1965, a certified substance abuse counselor and a leader in a diverse men's ministry, I come in contact with many men in need of alternatives to synthetic narcotic prescriptions.
Within the last hour I have talked with two people that are searching for pain management alternatives. A friend shared with me that she had lost her daughter to mitochondrial and had suffered greatly before death, she said the words to me ‘if only she were able to find something to take the pain away that was natural and effective.’ While experiencing the loss of her daughter, this same woman was also dealing with her second round of cancer. Having completed all of her painful cancer treatments previously, she expressed to me that she would not return to past procedures that caused pain and pumped terrible chemicals and toxins into her already weak body. She wishes she could try a cannabis oil supplement this time around.
After talking to her, a friend and retired master sergeant in the Marine Corps called me and stated that he had returned from a doctor’s appointment at the VA, & he is suffering from an opioid addiction. He was informed that the VA will be ceasing all sales on opioids in the near future. He's in fear of experiencing pain both physically and mentally because of his inability to obtain medications that his body craves! People in pain both psychologically and physically need medications that are more affordable and less addictive. These highly sought after prescriptions tend to cause more of a problem by creating dysfunction and addiction that ultimately leads to abuse. I want to find out if it is possible for cannabis to be a much needed alternative.’’
-John Wingate

 

Veteran #9:
William Royster


William is an incredibly qualified veteran who seeks to educate himself on the possible therapeutic uses of cannabis. We are very excited to have him join us with Project-22!

Here is a quick glance of his qualifications:

Professional Background:
*U.S. Navy 1986 -1997 Lieutenant Commander, Carrier-based Attack Pilot / Fleet Training Instructor (2,000 hours).
30+ decorations and personal citations; Carrier Air Wing Strike Leader, 43 combat missions, 550+ carrier landings.
Special Background Investigation /Top Secret Compartmentalized Information Clearances.
Nuclear Weapons Load Officer; Nuclear/”Special” Weapons Delivery Pilot Qualifications; SCI Naval Courier.
Naval Representative for Negotiation of Airspace Rights in Australia, Korea, Philippines, Saudi Arabia,
United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman. Consistently Top-Ranked Junior Officer in Every Command.
Honorably Discharged. Service-connected disabled veteran from shoot-down/high-speed ejection.

*Military Education and Qualifications earned and awarded: Flight/Tactics/Weapons Instructor; Air Wing Strike Planner, Naval
Weaponeer, Naval Nuclear/Special Weapons Loading and Delivery Officer, Naval Courier, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape
School(s), Strike Leader Attack Training Syllabus Graduate. Defense Language School Level IV. TSCI.

*Commercial Airline Pilot 1997-2004:
Boeing 767,757, & 737 FAA Pilot Qualifications: 7,000+ hours as a United Airlines First Officer.
Department of Homeland Security Federal Flight Deck Officer (Armed Pilot) Program Selectee 2004.
Federal Commercial Airline Transport License Qualification.
Federal Radio -Telephone Operator Permit Qualification.
Past and Current Associations:
Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Association of Naval Aviators, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Melrose United Methodist Church (Board President), The Builder’s Association of Kansas City, The Kansas City Club, The Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Delta Chi Alumni Association; AFL-CIO Airline Pilots Association (ALPA).

Educational Background:
-University of Missouri (Kansas City) – Executive MBA Candidate (Dreiseszun Scholarship Award Selectee 2012)
-CCIM Real Estate Candidate Curriculum Graduate (Level I-III of IV 2012
-Oxford University – Writing and Publishing (Completed 20 Credits 2011)
-Harvard Business School Executive Education (Certificate 2010) – Non Profit Governance.
-London School of Economics and Political Science Executive Education (2 Certificates 2009) – Negotiations/Leadership.
-Neighborhoods Now/Local Initiatives Support Corporation - National Community Development Training Leader Graduate 2006.
-Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont – Russian Language (2 Certificates 1984/1985).
-University of Missouri (Columbia) – Bachelor of Science Degree: Finance 1984 Delta Chi Fraternity President; Student Senator;
Inter-Fraternity Council Representative; Chancellor’s Commission on Substance Abuse; Kiwanis International.

Elected Positions: Cliff Drive Corridor Management Committee 2007 – present (President); Vice President Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association 2005 - 2012; Vice President “Friends of the Kansas City Museum” 2005 - 2012; Board Member “Historic Kansas City Foundation” 2005-2007; Board Member “Good Hammer Program” (LISC/Westside Housing) 2007 - 2011; Fifth Congressional District, Eleventh Ward Democratic Delegate – 2007; Treasurer, Democratic 40th Legislative District Committee 2006 - 2008. Candidate for State House Of Representatives – 2010.

Community Project Management: Kansas City Anti-Prostitution (SOAP)/Anti-Drug (SODA) Program Initiator; Lead Facilitator/Negotiator for City Parks Department Cliff Drive “Car-Free” Program 2008; Co-Author of KC Economic Development Corporation “Scarritt 353 Corp.” Economic Development Incentive Program 2008; Co-Author of Scarritt Neighborhood Urban Renewal I Plan 2006 and URP II 2009; Facilitator for Local Initiative Support Corporation Scarritt Plan 2006; Scarritt Neighborhood Historic District Expansion Plans 2005 & 2006; Kessler Society “George” Award - “Mayor’s Choice” Award recipient 2006; Good Samaritan Project House Sponsor 2009; “Christmas in October” for Vets, Disabled, and Elderly, sponsor, 2010.

*Litigation Financier 1999-2010.
Provided financing for attorneys and plaintiffs in personal injury and Federal Employer Liability Act litigation
*Real Estate Investor / Developer – Malibu, California 1995-2005.
Planned, organized, and negotiated all aspects of construction/finance/marketing of residential income properties.
*Florist Shop Owner 2016-Present

 

Veteran #10
Jason Branstetter


Here is Jason's story in his own words.

I always knew as a kid that I wanted to serve. I had close family that had served both in war and peace. Most of which did so in the Navy. In 1994 I graduated from high school and two weeks later was off to basic at Great Lakes for the Navy at the age of 17.

After basic and Sea school I was stationed aboard the USS Independence in Yokosuka Japan. As a Boatswain Mate, I was charged with small boat operations as a coxswain for the man overboard life boat and Captains Gig. I served 4 years overseas before my active duty was up and I returned to Missouri to go to college and the reserves.

While attending college I met my wife and shortly after had my first child. With school reserves and work, I let my enlistment end and left the service, but not for long.

The attacks on 9/11 happened right before my enlistment ended. My wife was not very military friendly let's just say and was glad my term expired. However times were tough we were struggling week to week, paycheck to paycheck. I was watching my country being thrust into not one but two wars. My heart was not at home it wasn't in my work. It was calling me back to serve.

Finally after only a year and a half break. I convinced my wife to let me at least go back into the reserves under the pretense I would change from a sea rate to at least something that would help me out here in the public life. I signed up this time to be an heavy equipment operator with NMCB-15 and I loved it!

I played with all sorts of heavy equipment such as dozers, graders, scrapers, and so on. I was learning something fun exciting and able to help in the outside world.

In 2006 I heard of the blue to green program. The Army needed Engineer's, the Sea Bees are the Navy's engineers and making rank in the Army was easier in comparison to the Navy. Still struggling to make it for my family I convinced my wife to let me go back active duty Army. Really there was no convincing, she knew that my desire to serve my country was too overwhelming that I was going to do it if she liked it or not. In 2007 I was back full time in the US Army as a heavy engineer.

Let me just say switching from Navy to Army was a shocker. Totally different styles of branches. Loved being in both.

I was stationed close to home at Ft Leonard Wood with an engineer battalion. They were already scheduled to leave for Iraq in a few months when I arrived. We deployed Oct 2007 for an 18 month long deployment.

Mosul, Iraq late 2007 was a hot bed of activities. Most insurgents had been forced out of Baghdad and the southern part of Iraq. The North was their last strong hold. We arrived to a complacent unit. Crappy equipment half of it broken, unprepared, sitting idle. That was my unit. We fixed that crap equipment, got out into the city, and built cop after cop.

Receiving fire from mortars, RPG, sniper fire, and multiple IEDs on every mission was normal at first. But still we built. We burmed that city up. Supported the 3rd ACR and kicked the enemy in the teeth. But, not all was good.
We had people hurt. We lost guys. And at that time I was going thru one of the hardest parts of my martial relationship ever! I needed help I need support. And thus began the never ending cycle of depression meds...
I survived, I lived I came out unhurt physical. Mentality on the other hand I wouldn't find out for years what that damage toll was. I couldn't see it, I couldn't face it. But my loved ones did. Some of my meds I was trying to use to stop depression and to quit smoking, almost made me take my life.

There have been several times when I was on the meds that I fully didn't care to be alive for one reason or another. Only one thing stopped me...My child. No matter how low I was. ..I was a soldier I was a fighter and if I wasn't around to raise and protector her then I would be a coward.
I gave up the regiment of pills. I found a new way to deal with my depression with support of therapist and avoiding prescription medications at all cost. Now a days I farm. Raising goats, enjoying the country, and silence that goes with it. I opening to learning how cannabis can help others with PTSD get relief.

 

Veteran #11:

Alice Mangan


Alice explains why she is joining us in her own words:

In 1991 as a junior in high school I joined the reserves and completed basic before starting my senior year. I arrived at fort Jackson as an admin spec. I knew I wanted to go active duty and to get my contract changed so I quit high school in Dec. of my senior year and began college classes the following January. Completed the college credit requirements and began active duty at ft hood in Jan 93. I was assigned to hhc 16th Sig brigades s1. After a year and a half I was trained to process security clearances and moved to s2.

It was a somewhat isolating job inside of a windowless vault. My husband of 3 months had deployed to Korea for a year, I was pregnant with my second child, had a recently deceased father, and now had a dependent mother at my house. I began to feel overwhelmed. Then I came down on orders to pcs to Korea the week before my spouse was due home. I was about 10 months into my second enlistment and I requested dual parenthood separation and received my honorable discharge in Nov 96. I was immediately diagnosed with major depression and in Dec 97 I was hospitalized at the VA for it and severe hypothyroidism was the diagnosis

Anti-depressants and thyroid treatment never seemed to help. I struggled to work or go to school. In 2007 I finally graduated RN school but with the ever looming cloud chasing me and a feeling that it was not just heavy rain. For over the next year I felt myself slipping into depression again but feeling like something more was wrong. Slurred speech, trouble walking, mood swings, lost around town and when driving home. I went to a civilian doctor instead of the VA and after 3 months of trying antidepressants one more time the Dr. finally took an MRI and then gave the me the news, I have MS. Looking back at the neck pain, fainting, depression, etc. I had endured during my last year on active duty linked the MS to service by the med examiner.
The injections for MS are painful and the side effects proved worse than the fear and hospitalization. I began treatment in NOV 2011 for left sided weakness and beginning paralysis. The injections kept me in bed 5/6 days a week with a fever so high constantly that my lips were chapped for the four months while on the medications. Aches and pains made it hard to even shower or wash my hair. With almost no real days of relief because at the end of the week, it was time for next shot!
My condition strained my marriage and my parenting over the years so severely that it got to the point of a subsequent separation during the time of these injections. With these shots, the efficacy isn't accurately guaranteed or very high. My next option the psychiatrist said was ECT (electric convulsive therapy). I have had bad reactions to the hydrocodone and morphine pain pills. I would really like to see how cannabis could be an effective medicine.

 

 

Veteran #12:
Robert O'Connell


My name is Robert "Rob" O'Connell. I joined the army July of 2000 at age 22. My Mos was 55b (ammunition specialist). I was stationed at Ft. Lewis, WA & I was in the army on 9-11. I arrived at Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, April 1 2002.
As a result of direct combat, I developed a severe case of PTSD. It is so bad that I cannot work. I am 100% disabled due to PTSD from combat. I also suffer from severe nausea, caused by camping in close proximity (less than 100 yards away) to burn pits that were incinerating anything and everything whether it was toxic or not.
I also served in Uzbekistan on the same tour. I got out of the army and had a hard time adjusting. I attempted suicide twice and kept losing every job I had as a result of my PTSD. I wound up homeless and lived on the streets. This was in early 08. I applied for benefits and remained homeless. I was ruled 100% disabled in 2014 and bought a house. I now have a wife who helps me out a lot with many things, a 4 year old daughter and a 14 year old stepson. I am interested in learning more about the benefits of medical cannabis and how those benefits could improve my quality of life.

 

Veteran #13:

Matt Neal

Matt's Story:


I am currently 27, and I was on active duty in the Marine Corps for 5 years working as a Cyber Network Operator. My family has a huge history of military involvement, my grandfather was in the army during WWII, my father was in Vietnam in the Army, my stepfather was in the army, and the younger generation of my brother Rick and stepbrother John (who's currently stationed in Japan) decided to go into the Marines. When I finished off my contract as a Corporal, I was unable to reenlist due to disability and I'm rated at 60%: tore my left ACL on post-deployment leave, right rotator cuff issue, bulged disc in my L5, and I'm diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I spent 6 months in Iraq 08-09 with 1st Battalion 4th Marines, and a year in Afghanistan 2009-10 with 7th Marines Regiment. I personally don't like the narcotics that they've (VA) prescribed me for pain relief, the muscle relaxers for my back, or the medications for bipolar disorder. Those medications are not natural, and I hate the way that they make me feel with horrendous side effects. With being able to go to Colorado with Project-22, I'll be able to learn a lot about cannabis research, and I'm excited for the whole experience!

 

 

Veteran #14 

Dustin Peters

 

Veteran #15:

Richard Wendell Thompson


His story in his words:

Born 27 November 1936 to the union of Wendell J. Thompson and Lucille Thompson --Lived in Saint Louis Mo.--also known as Carondelet on the south side. Attended Delaney grade school which was located on Bowen and Minnesota avenue -- Delaney which was a portable school was torn down --and was transferred to George Washington Carver on West Belle and Channing Avenue--The school was ten miles from my homestead--Board of education issued us bus passes weekly for our transportation--that was for me and my two sisters and one brother--I graduated Carver in June of 1950--and attended Vashon High School which now is Harris Teachers College --on market Ave.--Graduated in June 1954--and enlisted in Air Force in August 1954--went in Air Force at age of 17--Had tours of duty in Thule Greenland and in the FEAF- Upon discharge I started out waiting tables in various Hotels and Country Clubs in St.Louis - Started at General Motors in 1964 and retired from there. After that I went to Ranken Tech for Heating and Cooling and then owned Thompson's Heating and Cooling -- Retired from Heating and Cooling and became a Funeral Director at the Austin Layne Mortuary. Austin and me graduated from grade school and high school together, we are very good friends and I retired from there about three months ago. I am still around and kicking but not kicking too high! I would like see if this could help ailments.

 

 

 

Veteran # 16:

Marlin Moody Jr!


Hello, my name is Marlin Moody Jr; and as many of my brothers in arms I am a survivor of a foreign war. I severed my country in the Operation Desert Storm, Desert Shield back in the late 1990 & early 1991. On February 25, 1991 I was in the scud missile attack on AL Khobar in Saudi Arabia just NE. Of Riyadh. Received the Purple Heart. For many years now I have been taking at least 11 pills daily for wounds I received. (Physical & mental) These are pharmaceutical drugs in which compounds are mixed and guessed at to make what they say will either cure someone or help relieve the pain of said wounds. As a human being should I not have the right to choose the best medicine and course of healing for myself? With cannabis I feel more secure in knowing that what I put into my body is healthier for me and my body. As with these pills prescribed by the doctors I am just waiting for my body to start braking down. You see, back in 2015 I had to leave my family here in Missouri to go to New Mexico where I applied and got prescribed medical cannabis. I was able to live there for a year and while on medical cannabis I felt more alive more at ease with myself and others. Since I was able to grow my own medicine I would actually get outside more and interact with other's and socialize more without feeling depressed, guilty, and just overall feel good about myself. So as a Veteran I am asking all elected officials of this Great Nation Please Allow our citizens to be able to make and choose the course of action that is better and safer for us! For that one year I was truly free and felt it. I was just torn into about having to be without my family with me. They supported me even though we were 800 miles or so apart. So I wish we could all truly feel free and safe at home with my family. I am looking forward to this conference and wish the government would listen more to us Veterans instead of their pockets.

Thank you,

Marlin Gale Moody Jr.

 

 

 

Veteran #17:
Ryan Shaw


Here is Ryan's story on why he is joining us.
I was in high school when the 9/11 attacks happened and decided to join the Army. A few months after completing airborne school my unit, 82nd Airborne, 3/505 PIR, deployed to Iraq in August 2003-April 2004, where we earned the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and Valorous Unit Award.
I am proud to have served with such an outstanding group of paratroopers. Then in September 2005 we were rapidly deployed to New Orleans to assist in humanitarian efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It was a difficult situation to see in our own country, with our citizens displaced and needing help.
I separated from the Army in September 2007, and have used the VA in my area for my care since. I am thankful to have a primary care that understands I do not want to take a bunch of medications, but they could not recommend cannabis even if they thought it would help. I have used the recreational therapy department at the VA, and recommend for veterans that use the VA to check out the department.
With this trip to Colorado State University-Pueblo for the Institute of Cannabis Research Conference coming up with Project 22, I’m excited to learn more about a plant that can help many people get away from much more harmful medications. There is research being conducted on medical cannabis, industrial hemp production (which Missouri was a leader in production), and the economic effects of new industries. I am interested in learning how many jobs could be created if this industry came to Missouri. I think it is a great opportunity to learn about how Cannabis can be part of a happy and healthy lifestyle. Thanks Project 22!

 

 

 

Veteran #18:
Jody Hendrix


Here is Jody's reason for joining us.
I am a Kansas City, Missouri native and a veteran of the US Air Force. As a Security Forces troop, I served peace time at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska and at Prince Sultan AB, KSA during operations Southern Watch, Anaconda and Enduring Freedom. Since receiving the diagnosis of PTSD with acute hyper vigilance, I have become an advocate of medicinal cannabis for veterans and this will give me the opportunity to learn more about it.

 

 

 

Veteran #19:

Jason Wojtanowski

Jason was born Aug 28, 1983 in his home town, St. Louis, MO. He Enlisted Nov. 2003 in the the army infantry. Expired my term of service Jan 2009 after having served in Iraq 07-08 oif5, 1 tour. He was awarded the arcom, arcom with v, and the combat infantry badge. He is a VFW life member of Post 3944.

 

 

Veteran #20:
Lloyd Lapore, Jr

Here is Lloyd's story in his own words,

Hello my name is Lloyd Lapore, Jr. I'm a Retired U.S. army Master Sergeant that served 23+ years total in the U.S. army and the U.S. army reserves! That was 17 years as a Medical Corpsman!

In 1988 I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress!
I served honorably from September 4th, 1968 to August 7th, 1974 in the U.S. army active duty. 12 December 1974 to 3 November , 1991 U.S. army reserves. I'm an Vietnam combat veteran!

I enlisted as to become a medical corpsman but as soon as I was assigned, I was sent to a transportation company , I knew I wouldn't be serving as a medical corpsman! I was immediately assigned as a tractor trailer driver and went headfirst into heavy firefights!

We had all different types of heavy ordinances! This didn't set well with me. I had signed up for medical work.

My very first firefight was incredibly traumatic for me. A NVA child (estimated at 17 years old) fired an RPG round that nearly TOOK OFF MY HEAD! However he missed, and I then fired 3 rounds into his skull, killing him instantly. I saw his brains splatter and spray out of the side of his face. Those types of images do not leave you.

I was immediately and regularly exposed to firefights and more and more trauma. Like the one time the brakes failed while I was driving an 36,000 lb. trailer over the Hai Van pass, a mountain pass overlooking the China Sea! It is a 14 mile mountain pass bottom to bottom north to south and vice-versa.

I was about a mile and a half from the crest going down the mountain and there are several hair pin turns on the north side! Unfortunately for all of us, a bus of Vietnamese nationals completely packed and with passengers in and on top of it riding the opposite way had just negotiated a hairpin turn when I was trying to slow my tractor trailer down!
I swerved to miss the bus with my tractor trailer but the bus was too close and I was going to fast! My tractor slammed all down the side of the bus! All I could see were all bodies flying over the edge of a cliff (hundreds of feet straight down) to their death! I was devastated that all these innocent people just died from this accident and the only thing I heard was congratulations for ''killing gooks''.

In 1988 I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress , I very strongly feel that I'm NOT A DISORDERED PERSON, therefore I'm not to be addressed as DISORDERED!

I would like to join Project-22 to see if cannabis can help veterans dealing with PTSD.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,
Lloyd Lapore,Jr.

Veteran #21:
George Biswell


Here is his reason for joining us in his words.

My name is George E Biswell I served with United States Air Force from March 1969 to September 1971 when I was honorably discharged. My first assignment was on the island of Taiwan. I was assigned to the 6215th combat support group. We were the military police and our job was to secure the Air Force Base. We also worked with Air America but of course at that time I had no idea what Air America was.
After my discharge I returned home and the first Vietnam veterans that I met was a group called Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). The VVAW we were also having what we call rap groups (we were trying to deal with our own posttraumatic stress because at that time the VA did not want to see us).
After the war ended I kind of broke away from the group and instead spent time raising my family and working. Then I ran a crossed paths with the Vietnam veterans of America. I got active in 1986, and have been since then. I am the second vice president of VVA chapter 317 in Kansas City I am the secretary of Kansas City veteran support foundation. I am also the treasurer on the board of the Kansas City Indian center.
Why do I want to attend this conference? It's because I have personally seen how cannabis has made a veterans life a lot easier at the end of his life. On top of that, I have way too many to many stories to tell.
Here's a quick one: 
In 1976 I got involved with NORML and Dan Viets.
My good friend at the time was a Navy vet and his father was a World War II vet suffering from cancer. We got him to smoke some cannabis even though he was reluctant at first. Once he realized how it would allow him to be relaxed and eat he was cool with that and I can honestly say that at the last years of his life he was one happy veteran. So you see it does work, I have seen it and now we get to find out how and why it works.
I want to be able to get all the research information that I can bring it back to my state here in Missouri and work hard to make it legal for veterans. I have been a supporter of the legalization of cannabis for over 40 years and I'm just getting started! I appreciate the opportunity to be able to do attend the medical conference.
Thank you,
George .E. Biswell. USAF

 

 

 

 

Veteran #22

Karl Koch

 

 

 

 

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