Veterans hold a special place in the heart of America.
Our nation swells with pride after harrowing accounts of successful operations abroad intended to preserve our way of life and spread our values and ideals.
Our country likely melts at the latest video featuring an unaware family member bursting with joy at a surprise homecoming. And,our nation's heart breaks when we hear of the latest veteran who succumbed to the invisible wounds of war known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
By now, we should be too well aware of the numbers.
Nearly one veteran per hour commits suicide daily. Veterans face a 22 percent higher risk of suicide than the average American adult who did not selflessly serve our country.
Many service members turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with their PTSD, which leads more than two of 10 veterans with PTSD to also suffer from Substance Use Disorder (SUD), and head down an even darker path.
The cost to America heavy.
Disability payments from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to hundreds of thousands of veterans suffering from PTSD total billions annually.
As with most life situations that turn dire, unconventional thinking may sometimes yield unexpected positive results, much like it did for our friend, Sgt.(Ret.) Jonathan Lubecky.
Sgt. Lubecky served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including a year-long deployment in Iraq. He then joined the U.S. Army for another eight years of service.
When he finally came home, Jon was "100 percent rated" with PTSD.
That basically means total occupational and social impairment, including gross impairment of thoughts and communication processes, persistent delusions and, unfortunately for our friend, suicidal tendencies.
It also includes the capacity to hurt himself and others.
Jon tried conventional treatment options, all with little to no positive result. After his last suicide attempt, Jon and his family turned to the unconventional — a clinical trial in his home of Charleston, South Carolina involving 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly referred to as MDMA: a psychoactive drug you may have heard commonly referred to as "Ecstasy."
Yes, the party drug. The results were remarkable.
Through a rigorous battery of testing, followed by a carefully monitored and controlled drug regimen, Jon began to see the light at the end of a long dark, winding tunnel.
He began to find his voice again, then started to work through his problems.
After his first three sessions, his PTSD became more manageable.
Seeing our friend come back to life was amazing.
Though his road to full recovery remains a daily, arduous task, we’re proud to say that Jon has become an effective advocate for the non-profit research and educational organization Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
A few years ago, who would have thought that Jon would be on Capitol Hill lobbying members of Congress? But there he is, making the rounds, fighting again for his brothers and sisters in arms. He travels the country, telling his story to veterans, the media — anyone who will listen.
The proof is not only in Jon’s recovery, but in the science.
MAPS recently announced that to the peer reviewed journal The Lancet Psychiatry that, after Phase II of its pilot study consisting of veterans, firefighters, and police officers 68 percent of its participants no longer qualify for a diagnosis of PTSD after the second session of the MDMA regimen — more than doubling the control group.
The study also found that, on average, the positive results sustained a full year later. "At least one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments, so there is an urgent need for better treatments for the millions of military veterans and others with PTSD," said Dr. Michael Mithoefer, co-author of the article announcing the study’s findings. "These results are further evidence that MDMA, used just two times at monthly intervals, can make psychotherapy much more effective and better tolerated."
Based on these encouraging, the FDA granted MAPS’s clinical trial "Breakthrough Therapy Designation" acknowledging that it "may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies" and agreeing to expedite its development and review. Phase IKII starts this summer with trial sites in the U.S., Canada and Israel, with an eye towards FDA approval in 2021.
Soon enough for our friend. Not nearly soon enough to save so many other heroes.
Gene Berardelli is a street-smart trial attorney who, through his time as the Law Chair of the Republican Party in Brooklyn, New York, has developed a solid reputation as an election attorney successfully representing conservative candidates.
Russell Gallo is a security expert and combat veteran who attained the rank of First Sergeant in the New York Army National Guard, earning a Combat Action Badge in Iraq. Together, they host Behind Enemy Lines Radio, a national award-winning radio show and podcast broadcasting out of "The People's Republic of" New York that airs weekly on AM and FM radio stations as part of the Talk America Radio network. To read more of their reports — Click Here Now.
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