R. ‘Doc’ Gage Amsler – Homeless at 18yo obtained G.E.D. and joined U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, then transitioned to the “Green” side 8404 Combat Field Medic with 1st Recon LAV, 1st Marine Battalion Camp Pendleton. 6 months Operation Desert Storm/Kuwait Liberation. Moved to Michigan and became a Paramedic advancing in trauma/pediatrics/cardiac care working in several hospital ERs and on the road, including Detroit E.M.S. Became a Professional Firefighter in Dearborn, Michigan, in 2000. Influenced by 9/11, he obtained a Secret Security Clearance in 2005. Obtained World-Wide Personal Protection Specialist (WPPS I&II) certification and joined the world of High Threat Security as a Combat Medic in direct support to the Dept. of State Executive Protection Teams and Dept. of Defense Special Operations Units during the Middle East conflict from 2005 – 2014; 4 years Iraq, four years Afghanistan running countless missions with National/International Spec. Op. Units (SEALS/Recon/Ranger), USAID, CIA, Polish Special Forces, US Army Corps of Engineers. Became a Cannabis Caregiver & grower when Michigan went legal for medicinal cannabis in 2008 and learned everything about the plant, its history, and the incredible therapeutic benefits. In 2012 an accidental discovery of an Afghani landrace strain in the heart of the Hindu Kush on the border of Pakistan at the mouth of the Taliban Trail changed life’s course forever. A devastating back and neck injury ended his contracting career in 2015, then diagnosed with complex PTSD. On a new mission to research and develop the strain and find a cure, or at least to silence the chaos of PTSD for all Veterans. Authored and self-published the book ‘The Strains of War’ in 2015. Began advocacy work for safe and affordable cannabis for Veterans with PTSD and related symptoms, including pain management, in Michigan. Supported and worked with several organizations and publications, including Patients Out of Time, Nurses Cannabis Network, High Times Magazine, Skunk Magazine, HOUR Detroit Magazine, and MAPS. Obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Environmental Health & Safety. Class of 2022 Ganjier Sommelier student. Successfully released the first Afghani landrace hybrid strain called ‘Black-Ops’ Aug. 2022 in Northern California.
George Armstrong is a Pennsylvania Medical marijuana patient, advocate, and veteran. He served from 1985-1993 in Fort Lewis, WA, as a combat medic (91A) and then as a physical therapy assistant (91J) at Irwin Army Medical Center in Fort Riley, KS. George is excited to bring his passion and experience to the Veterans Action Council, working towards educating the masses on the effectiveness of cannabis in treating veterans in crisis and ending the stigma attached to our medicine, and fighting to end veterans suicide; a crisis that takes 22 veterans every day.
David Bass served 25 years in the US Army. He is a veteran of Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad from 2004-2005. David founded Texas Veterans for Medical Marijuana in 2015.
Bryan Buckley, a Special Operations Team Commander with Marine Raiders, led multiple teams in deployments to Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara (Africa), South East Asia, and Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan (Helmand Province). Developed rapport with numerous host nation forces, enhanced capability and capacity within the host nation units, and briefed US Ambassadors. Led a 20-man Marine Raider Team to Afghanistan that mentored, trained, and conducted over 40 combat operations with an Afghan Special Operations Battalion. Bryan also deployed twice to Operation Iraqi Freedom with Marine Infantry and Reconnaissance. In 2016, Bryan founded Battle Brothers Foundation (501c3) to empower veterans through a holistic approach. Battle Brothers Foundation has been approved for an Institutional Review Board (IRB) to research medical cannabis can reduce the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress. In 2016, Bryan founded and is currently the CEO/President of Helmand Valley Growers Company (HVGC), an adult-use cannabis brand in California. HVGC donates 100% of its profits to fund their veterans' medical cannabis research initiative.
Al Byrne Lcdr, USN, ret. DD-712 Destroyer Deck Officer; Seabees Davisville, RI; Advisor Support Officer RVN for Coast Guard, USN, Marine advisors in-country; Naval Shipyard Pearl Harbor; Naval Supply Command Newport, RI; NMCB 5 - Puerto Rico and Diego Garcia; NAS Whidbey Island, WA; Defense Logistics Command Cleveland, OH. Graduate of Notre Dame, Rugby Wing 3 years. Owner large paper company Boston, owner franchise health spas NH. Co-Director NORML 1990-1994; Co-founder Patients Out of Time 1995; producer "Marijuana as Medicine" 1996; producer "Cannabis in Medical Practice 1997; Co-founder Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access 2007; Advisor Athletes for Care 2010; Co-host "Veterans Voices" podcast 2015.
Etienne Fontan, Co-Owner of Berkeley Patients Group (BPG), the nation's oldest continuously operating medical cannabis dispensary (23 years). A combat veteran of Desert Storm, he served as an artilleryman (13B) with the WVARNG activated to the 18th Airborne Corps as artillery for the French Foreign Legion. Diagnosed with Gulf War Illness, he has used cannabis after being recommended by a doctor in '91. He was kicked out of the military for a positive test for THC and has been a patient advocate/Activist for medical cannabis working behind the scenes to change Laws for over 30 years at the local, State, Federal, & International Levels.
Michael Jay Green lives in the countryside near Charlottesville Virginia. An itinerant bookseller, he has worked at numerous author events and custom-crafted conference bookstores for conferences/symposiums nationwide since 1996. Background/experience includes service as Viet Nam (Brown Water) Navy Veteran; award-winning Landscape Contractor (Kick Ass Cactus, Inc); Attorney at Law & Judge Pro Tempore (Tucson, Az), with a stint as Chief Trial Deputy in the Office of the Public Defender, American Samoa (at 139 pounds, not your typical Samoan attorney): A graduate of the University of Arizona (B.A. in Eastern Studies,1976, Summa Sum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, etc.) and its School of Law (1983) Michael attended high school in Phoenix, Arizona.
Pearson R. Kennedy-Crosby was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He is the oldest of seven children. In 2004, Shortly after graduating high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Mr. Crosby Is the Sr. Vice Commander of VFW #3629, a Veterans Service Officer, and an Alaskan Tribal Veterans Representative. Pearson dedicates as much time as possible to his family and his sons Trey and Odin.
Amy Case King resides in Yucatan Mexico, she began her medical cannabis activism and therapeutic application of the plant 15 years ago to help her uncle, a Vietnam Veteran who suffered from severe alcoholism, PTSD, COPD along with a myriad of other physical ailments. She is the widow of a Navy Veteran, the wife of a retired Navy Corpsman, and the granddaughter of a Korean War Army Veteran.
Michael Krawitz is a disabled Air Force Veteran [Sergeant, 1981 -1986]. Michael Krawitz serves as Executive director of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access [VMCA], as well as other board and advisory roles. After California's historic Proposition 215, Michael observed that cannabis used as a palliative adjunct pain treatment to opiates produced better pain relief and significantly lowered the number of pain pills used. Leading VMCA, Michael successfully negotiated the first-ever VA medical cannabis policy in 2010 and has since overseen the WHO ECDD Critical Cannabis Review process in Geneva and then the United Nations process on the WHO cannabis recommendations. The vote on 2 December 2020, United Nations - Vienna, Austria successfully removed Cannabis and Cannabis Resin from the Single Convention treaty "most dangerous drug category."
Nate Landau served three years as a sergeant in a special forces paratrooper reconnaissance unit in the Israel Defense Forces. Nate began his career in New York, rising to become the Director of Operations and Human Resources at Indayo Group, an event planning company in Manhattan. Nate further developed his leadership and management skills at Indayo, where he was responsible for events with over 2,000 attendees and managed a staff of over 100 people. In 2015, Nate moved to California to work in the nascent California cannabis industry. Has eight years of experience running large-scale cultivation operations. Nate is currently the Executive Director of Contra Costa NORML, a national cannabis advocacy non-profit. Nate brings five years of experience in cannabis lobbying and advocacy and has successfully lobbied multiple localities to change their local cannabis laws.
Tony Landry, a Cajun from Louisiana, served six years as a Fire Controlman in the U.S. Navy from 1988-94. Upon returning home, working, enrolled in night classes, and raising a family, his service-related injuries led to surgeries, pharmaceutical addiction, alcohol misuse, loss of employment, relationships, and depression. Tony began using cannabinol (CBD) to treat pain and soon created an advocacy group, Louisiana Veterans for Medical Cannabis, which was instrumental in adding chronic pain and PTSD to Louisiana medical cannabis law in 2018. Later that year, Tony relocated to Tucson, Arizona, while continuing activism in national, state, and local drug policy reforms. After attending the 2019 Arizona Psychedelic Conference, he experienced his first ayahuasca ceremony. Tony was able to end the old patterns of alcohol misuse and founded Decriminalize Nature Tucson as a platform to work on Arizona drug policy reforms. Tony is eager to join VAC drug policy reform efforts to ensure all citizens seeking relief from emotional and physical trauma have access to plant medicine.
Mary Lynn (ML) Mathre, RN, MSN, served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during the Vietnam Era (1973-1979) at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital (Portsmouth, VA) and Roosevelt Roads naval Hospital (Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico). Advocate, Author & Cannabis Educator since 1985. In 1985 she received her master’s degree in nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, upon completing her thesis: A Survey on Disclosure of Marijuana Use to Health Care Professionals. She served as the Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws" (NORML) Council on Marijuana & Health and as a member of NORML’s Board of Directors from 1988-1992. She is the Co-Founder and President of Patients Out of Time, created in 1995, and a Founding member and President of the newly created Academy of Cannabis Education (ACE), both organizations dedicated to educating healthcare professionals and the public about the ECS and therapeutic cannabis. She was a Founding member and the first President of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, created in 2010. Editor of Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana (1995) and co-editor of Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science and Sociology (2004). In her early years of nursing, she specialized in medical-surgical and ICU nursing, and by 1987, she changed her specialty to Addictions Nursing and became a Certified Addictions Registered Nurse in 1989 and worked at the University of Virginia’s Addiction Treatment Unit, and later as the Addictions Consult Nurse for the University Hospital System until 2002. Following that she did consulting work for GW Pharmaceuticals, followed by serving as the ED for a opioid treatment program in Charlottesville, VA. She served as a Board member (1992-1993) and then Secretary (1993-1997) of the National Nurses Society on Addictions (now the International Nurses Society on Addictions). In 1990 she was a founding member and first President of the Virginia Nurses Society on Addictions and remained active until 2001.
Aaron Pluff served as a Marine infantry small unit leader and saw two combat tours in the Iraqi Freedom War. He has been recognized professionally & in popular media for his achievements and skills as an Instructor. In his “spare” time Aaron has earned an MBA from Syracuse University, Whitman School of Management, and devotes his life to his family while supporting veterans.
Eryck Stamper, Founder, Veterans Initiative 22 & Owner, Maryland Hemp Exchange, After completion of his military career, and while suffering from various medical conditions, he sought a more holistic and alternative approach to personal medical care and found cannabis. Discovering the medical and healing benefits of cannabis sparked his desire to engage in a new battle: fighting for safe and affordable access, rights, and employment opportunities for Veterans, First Responders, and their families of this critical lifesaving medicine through his non-profit Veterans Initiative 22 (VI22).
Sam Sussman, has progressed from Undesignated Seaman to CTM3 in his Naval career. Following his service, he got into IT and veteran advocacy with DoD Skillbridge. His path in consulting has led him to Cannabis Technologies and advocacy for veterans access.
Lennora Valles is a 100% disabled Military Sexual Trauma U.S. Navy Veteran with seven years of service. She was a Disbursing Clerk 3rd class stationed onboard the USS Shenandoah AD-44 decommissioned in the Atlantic Ocean, making Lennora a Naval Plank owner. Lennora received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal while stationed at Carswell Joint Reserve Military Base in Fort Worth, Texas, before separating from the service to work for the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons. She later transferred to the Social Security Administration, where she found her calling as a disability claims specialist. After a medical episode with Stage 4 endometrial cancer, Lennora returned to work for the Nevada State Department of Veteran Services as a Veterans Service Officer and started her disability representation business, Disability Representative 4 HIRE, in 2019. Lennora has served on two nonprofit boards, including the Coalition of Patient Rights of Nevada, which fought for a Medical Marijuana program in the state of Nevada plus protections for medical marijuana patients from child protective services, Police and the public school system, and Southern Nevada Women Veterans Coalition which fought for equal VA healthcare benefits for women and transgender veterans. Lennora now works for Integrative Providers Association to promote cannabis education workshops for medical professionals to learn about how to integrate holistic medicine back into their medical fields of practice by offering Continuing Education Courses (CEU, CME) accredited by the University of Nevada Reno.