Twenty22Many — Olympia, WA
Since its inception in 2014 Twenty22Many has been employing grassroots tactics to combat the reality of veteran suicide – work that the volunteers at Twenty22Many take very seriously. In 2016 the group attained its non-profit status and continues to bring awareness to an often misunderstood and stigmatized crisis that plagues our nation from its home base in Olympia, Washington. As a 501(C)3 nonprofit the team at Twenty22Many strives to bring awareness to suicide prevention, PTSD and the fact that many veterans are seeking safe and legal access to alternative medicine outside of pharmaceuticals. They are an inclusive group of individuals that accept all veterans seeking to end veteran suicide regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race or spirituality.
The organization’s director of veterans outreach, Randy Madden, graced us with his presence at the DOPE headquarters in Seattle where we talked about the organization’s mission and goals for the future. He shared with us the team’s non-traditional approach to healing, harm reduction and why it’s crucial to build a community around veteran suicide awareness. DOPE Magazine wants to extend our gratitude and continue to celebrate the mission of the non-profit and lives that are positively affected by the many volunteers of the organization. Madden served as an Army Specialist from 2004-2005 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
DOPE Magazine: So many veterans say that cannabis has helped them with not only PTSD by a myriad of other medical issues: chronic pain, sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression. What has cannabis done specifically for you? How do you use it in your day-to-day treatment for the medical issues that you are suffering from?
Randy Madden: Before I started using cannabis, I started to isolate myself from society, and I was taken [off of the] Valium that I was given by the VA. So, I started using cannabis more, and once I was able to get the authorization for a prescription to use cannabis medically, I started to use it. I went to Rainier Express — the dispensary that Patrick Seifert ran in Olympia — and I started using the medicine more and more from there and the more that I used it, the more people around me said I was doing better. I started to break out from my isolation, and because of the result of that, I got to become part of the Twenty22Many organization that Patrick and I started in 2015, which is awesome because it got me out of my house. Now I’m back in society, and I don’t feel like I’m not doing anything anymore.
The other things that it helps with [include] the stress, the anxiety and sleep deprivation. I wake up with panic attacks, or an anxiety attack in the morning and I feel like I can’t breathe. So, the first thing I try to do as soon as I can start to breathe again is to get cannabis in me because it helps to calm my system down. When I can’t sleep, I medicate just enough to where it knocks me out, and I get a nice cannabis nap. It’s some of the best sleep that I ever get.
The Valium that I took for trying to manage the PTSD before starting to use cannabis, [resulted in a] cyst on my left kidney. Because I can’t take any pharmaceuticals, the only thing that I’m left to treat it with is cannabis and because of cannabis oils in flower I don’t have any inflammation in my kidney [or] pain. Doctors are starting to question [those results] and wonder why I’m doing so well.
Can you tell us a bit about your affiliation with Twenty22Many and what it has meant for you? How is the organization helping to further the cannabis conversation among veterans?
[We are] raising awareness about the suicide epidemic amongst veterans and how cannabis can alter [potentially suicidal] thoughts [due to the] THC being psychoactive. When it comes to legalization, we’re trying to voice it as much as possible and be as clear as we can, and as open as we can be about it, and not hide in the darkness about our cannabis use and how it helps us. The more that we talk about it, the more people start to listen, and the more people start to listen and see that the effects that are beneficial, then that helps create the change. It only takes one person to go out there and say, “Hey, this is what’s helping.” And the next person picks up after that from hearsay and goes “Hey, I’m going to try it to see if it works, because nothing else is helping me.” We just keep moving on like that, word-of-mouth and getting out there once word-of-mouth starts getting around.
[We’ve begun] participating in bigger events like HEMPFEST, CannaCon and the Emerald Cup, where they give us veteran panels to where we get to speak and voice our opinions and our experience on how cannabis is helping us. The more we do that, the more we’re helping to push for legalization. It’s gone pretty fast in the last four years, especially since we started our organization because the more we talk about it, the more people have to listen.
What advice would you give to a non-veteran looking to become involved in the mission to end veteran suicide by any means necessary?
You can do it on a small level just using [word of] mouth and saying “Hey, spread the love, our veterans have fought for us so we can have freedom in our country, and you’ve got to show them [that same] respect as much as possible.” Going out and just being a good citizen and not trying to cause a problem intentionally for other people is a great way to support us.
You can go even bigger and try to support — or join — a veteran organization. You can donate like five to 10 hours a week if you have the time. Or even just do two to four hours on the weekend, or every other week, and give the veterans a little bit of time. Show them some support. Even if it is just giving somebody an ear for veterans to talk, to hear their concerns.
What extracurricular activities that Twenty22Many offers do you regularly participate in?
I’ve participated in everything that Twenty22Many has to offer because I was one of the founders. I found that yoga is great. If my body could handle getting in there without dislocating a rib, or the disc in my back, I would do it more often. Same goes for kickboxing. [Kickboxing] is an excellent way to release stress and it’s another good way to break isolation and get around people in society again and start making some friends. In doing so you find more people that can listen to you and also get the word out about what’s going on, so things can change in your life for the better.
If you or someone you know is suffering please reach out to Twenty22Many via its hotline (360)545-7849.
- Patrick Seifert – President/Founder
- Dustin Bruce – Vice President
- Randy Madden – Director of Veterans Outreach
- Katharine Seifert – Mrs. Twenty22Many