Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicide are all too common in the veteran community. About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom have PTSD in a given year, according to mentalhealth.va.gov, and suicide is the second-leading cause of death for post-9/11 veterans, accounting for 22.3% of all deaths.
Raising Awareness Through Media
Air Force veteran, filmmaker, and mental health activist Steve Ellmore tackles these widespread issues in his Amazon Prime film Unprescribed.
In addition to raising awareness of the epidemic veterans are facing, Ellmore advocates for cannabis and CBD as a healthier and more effective treatment for PTSD and depression by increasing the knowledge and availability of such alternative treatments.
Ellmore is the founder and president of non-profit organization named The Unprescribed Inc., leveraging the success of the documentary of the same name. Ellmore founded the non-profit following offers of support to help the film reach a broader audience as an advocacy tool for suicide prevention.
Unprescribed Inc. was founded on the principles of integrative medicine and full-spectrum healing (plants over pills). It is headed by a diverse group of veterans, health professionals, and subject matter experts with a shared vision of saving lives through the power of media.
The non-profit aims to reduce the over-prescription of pharmaceuticals, which can increase suicidal ideations, through natural alternatives such as cannabis. Alternative medications such as cannabis and psilocybin have been shown to drastically reduce veteran suicide.
National Cannabis Fest 2022
Now, Ellmore is returning to the National Cannabis Festival for the second year in a row. Last year he worked as a volunteer with Balanced Veterans, and this year he will feature as a guest speaker with his organization.
The 6th Annual National Cannabis Festival will focus on celebrating the progress and legalization of cannabis and giving a voice to non-profit groups fighting to end cannabis prohibition, according to the event’s organizers.
“Last year I helped man the Veteran’s booth with Balanced Veterans Network at NCF, which gave Unprescribed some much-needed exposure,” said the indie filmmaker. “On the surface, it’s a film about cannabis, but at the heart, it’s about overcoming trauma and averting suicide.”
Ellmore will join colleagues Ron Milward, Cherissa Jackson, and Dr. Lynn Bornfriend for a panel addressing the link between polypharmacy and Veteran suicide at 6:30 p.m. April 23 at the Wellness Pavilion.