Q&A with Army Veteran Michelle Tippens, CTE, TBI, PTSD & More

Michelle Tippens is a veteran who is currently running for Tulsi Gabbard’s seat in Congress. She’s one of the founders of the Hawaii Veteran’s Cannabis Alliance. She also puts on an event in November called Stoke for the Cure, a medical cannabis strain search that finds the best strains for specific medical problems and raises money for veterans. Here’s a quick Q&A with her about PTSD and brain injuries.

Q: How did you get your brain injury?

A: I was in a car accident. I was near El Dorado, Texas, and the sun roof of the car broke my neck when the car rolled over. I crawled out of the car, got a ride from a trucker who brought me to a nursing home where I was medivac-ed to a private hospital and then back to Fort Hood.

Q: What would you like to see changed with the way our society handles PTSD?

A: I see a tremendous expectation for sensitivity in dealing with alcoholism as a disease. It would be nice to see PTSD treated with a similar amount of care. PTSD doesn’t simply mean a person has dealt with difficult experiences, it also means those events have negatively affected the way that person interprets and reacts to the world. A person can’t “just stop” being triggered, they have to retrain a more appropriate response and that takes time and practice.

Q: How does cannabis help with veterans, PTSD and traumatic brain injury?

A: The US Patent Trade Office awarded a patent that identifies cannabis as a substance that protects brain cells and causes them to regenerate. However just healing the tissue isn’t enough. Allowing a person to remember an event objectively so they can untrain the survival response is just as important; cannabis does both. Many veterans have true survival memories. Recognizing the survival moment is over is easier with cannabis, calming those survival responses is easier with cannabis, being nice again is easier with cannabis.

Q: What does your brain scan look like now?

A: ThelastCTonmybrainshowed“ayoung,healthy- looking brain” according to the neurologist. This was epic news considering I was diagnosed with brain damage in 2003 and had several other CTs that showed the damage prior to starting cannabis in 2010.

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