One of the great traditions of Super Bowl week is the Stars & Stripes Bowl. A team of NFL alums plays a team of Wounded Warriors in the flag football game.
This year the Warriors stacked their team at quarterback, employing Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.
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“I still think I can play in the NFL so any opportunity I get to show that to anybody, I’ll take it. But, really, this is to say thank you to all of them for their incredible service to us in so many different ways,” says Warner. “It’s always an honor to be able to come out and be around these men and women and get a chance to personally thank them because we’re all so indebted to them.”
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Snoop Dogg helped organize this year’s event in Los Angeles so he had a little pull at the QB position.
Warner led the Warriors to a 14-7 win, but the real victory came off the field. Through this game, money is raised for organizations like Sierra Delta, which pairs veterans with service dogs. They were given a check for $10,000. The Stars & Stripes Bowl is also a high-profile way to raise awareness of important causes. Like VETS: Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions.
“We provide research, resources, and advocacy work for combat veterans seeking alternative therapies,” says Marcus Capone, co-founder of VETS.
Marcus is a former Navy SEAL who now lives in San Diego. After leaving active duty he found himself where many special operators do, struggling to adjust to life outside the military. He eventually contemplated suicide. Then he found psychedelic therapy, an emerging area of science using psychoactive drugs to, for lack of a better phrase, reboot the human brain.
“Psychedelics in general are really used for the mind, for helping individuals seek out and find the answers that they’re looking for,” says Capone. “Individuals that have depression and PTSD and now we’re seeing some of the head trauma, it’s actually getting to the root cause of some of those issues.”
The treatment itself is relatively short. Once completed it’s up to the individual to continue the healing process.
“We don’t want the mixed message to say hey, take this drug, go away and you’ll feel better. The medicine or the drug is really just a tool to get you out of a dark place and the real work starts after that,” says Capone.
Sometimes the healing is done in weeks, other times it takes years. But, Marcus is living proof that it can help if given a chance.
“I went through my therapy four years ago and now I have the most amazing relationship again with my 21-year-old son, my 19-year-old daughter and my wife, Amber. We’ve been together now 25 years. How can this be bad? I was in a dark place like a lot of these individuals are and it’s nice to come to the light.”
Alas, most of these therapies are illegal in the United States. Psychedelics were used as recreational drugs and stigmatized in the 1960’s still aren’t widely accepted in America.
“So, we fund the individuals to actually go outside the U.S. in countries where they’re legal,” says Capone.
To date they’ve helped fund more than 450 combat veterans receive the treatment.
It’s sad that so many men and women suffer unspeakable emotional scars when they go outside this country to fight, then have to leave the country again to seek the help they need to heal.
Veteran suicide is still a epidemic in America. This kind of treatment could help end it.
There are several studies in the works bout it. To learn more about the science or donate to help someone get the chance to receive treatment, visit www.vetsolutions.org.
If even one combat veteran gets to start his or life over again because of this, then the best event of Super Bowl week has already happened.