A Man On A Mission
“Why isn’t this being talked about? Why hasn’t war been declared on veteran suicide? It’s shameful.” Patrick Seifert’s voice intensifies. “It’s not visible. PTSD isn’t a missing limb. It isn’t a scar, it isn’t a big burn mark. PTSD is one of those things that is invisible. A lot of people don’t think that you are broken unless you look broken.”
The numbers are daunting but bold leaders like Seifert are working every day to make sure we recognize and end the veteran suicide epidemic. After the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 2012 Suicide Data Report, it is commonly stated that we lose 18-22 veterans to suicide every day. While there is plenty of discussion to be had around the data in the report and the context of these numbers, the plain and simple reality of the continuous stream of veteran suicides has Seifert on a mission
“Anything I can do to keep these veterans busy, I’m doing it. We do veteran yoga, during the summer we have a barbeque series, and whenever we can go to the capitol and fight for legislation we are doing that,” he said. Seifert operates Rainier Xpress in Olympia. Until the closure of the medical cannabis market in July 2016, Rainier Xpress operated as a cannabis dispensary, and home base for the veteran support and advocacy non-profit Twenty22Many.
While they can no longer provide access to cannabis and support programs like the “PTSD Pen” (Seifert donated thousands of dollars worth of vape pens to people with PTSD and asked them to journal about their experiences), Rainier Xpress is still living out the mission of Twenty22Many. Every Saturday they host an educational speaker with topics ranging from managing aggressive behavior, to hemp, self defense, and advocate etiquette. On Wednesdays upward of 20 people come to do arts and crafts with Seifert, his wife, and three children. They spend every other weekend outside cleaning the streets of Olympia, a program for which they received the “volunteers of the year” award from the city.
As he settles into his hotel room in Washington, D.C., Seifert shares about his upcoming plans for the National Medical Cannabis Unity conference hosted by Americans for Safe Access. He will be speaking to members of congress in support of the CARERS Act, holding a live press conference on the capitol grounds, and is sitting on a panel that includes PhDs and MDs.
“I used to try to write my speeches but I get too nervous, so I just go up there with a few bullet points. Usually I find my way through it and get a good message across,” he said.
Visit www.twenty22many-olympia.org to learn about upcoming events and how you can play a role in ending the veteran suicide epidemic.