Steve Nguyen sees a lot of military veterans in his line of work. As a budtender for Herbal Legends Cannabis in Mount Vernon, Wash., and a prior service member himself, he’s been able to help fellow veterans learn about and benefit from cannabis. And now, he’s using that passion and expertise to actively build a cannabis-friendly veterans’ community for support and education.
Steve is not alone in this. His cousin, Antonino DePeralta, is a combat veteran, boots-on-the-ground Army engineer who served in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East. Antonino suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and, after returning home, discovered that cannabis helped immensely with his symptoms.
The two cousins, both passionate about cannabis and the wellbeing of their fellow veterans, started an Instagram page called Lifted Veterans. “We were just two veterans talking to the cannabis community and other veterans with PTSD,” says Steve.
And that community began to grow. And Steve and Antonino realized there was a lot of good they could do with this.
“The idea is to promote products, review farms and strains, and have veteran-specific conversations, like ‘How does it feel to go from the military to using cannabis?’” Steve says.
He describes the transition to civilian life as disorienting — for anyone, let alone those suffering from PTSD. “My cousin and I both smoke to help with anxiety. Antonino has PTSD from his combat experience, so cannabis is huge for him.”
These conversations can really only happen from veteran to veteran. Unless you’ve been there, you just can’t relate.
“I had a Marine come in the other day,” says Steve, “and I said ‘Hey, I’m prior service!’ and there was this instant trust bond. Veterans are often skeptical of cannabis, so having fellow veterans in the industry helps. Other veterans feel comfortable. We know what they went through and vice versa.”
What does Steve recommend to his fellow veterans?
He says, “Anything that’s good for anxiety, like Jack Herer — that’s a sativa — or Grandaddy Purple, an indica. That’s what I’ve found through research and experience. But everyone’s a little different. It might take some trial and error to find the right strain or combination of strains that works for you.”
This is what Lifted Veterans is all about — helping veterans come together and learn about the amazing benefits of cannabis! If this interests you, join the community! Go give Lifted Veterans a follow on social media! You can find them on Facebook and Instagram with the username, @liftedveterans.
And if you’re a local veteran curious about cannabis, by all means stop in and talk to Steve. He works days at HLC Skagit, 2714 Henson Road, just off Old Highway 99 in South Mount Vernon, and would love to share his knowledge and experience with a fellow veteran!
2714 Henson Rd, Ste B
Mount Vernon, WA 98273