Finding Peace Beyond Combat: Veterans and the Push for Psychedelic Healing

Dive into the research, advocacy, and legislative reform efforts that are center stage in the push to make psychedelic therapies available to Veterans.

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Recent years have seen a surge of interest in psychedelic therapies as promising options for Veterans grappling with chronic, often treatment-resistant conditions like PTSD and depression.

In this article, we’re diving into the latest research and legislative developments in psychedelic therapy for Veterans. 

Why the Interest? 

In the US, Veterans stand as one of the most overlooked populations in healthcare, facing mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicide at significantly higher rates than that of the general population. 

Brett Waters of Reason for Hope and the Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition, highlighted this crisis in a testimony to Congress, stating, "One of the critical - and very valid - talking points for many people who are suffering, is that some people just don’t have time to wait." 

Waters’ poignant statement underscores the urgent need for innovative treatment approaches to address the mental health needs of Veterans more swiftly and more effectively. Psychedelic-assisted therapies have emerged as a promising potential solution to this critical need.


Recent breakthroughs in clinical research have shown the promising potential of psychedelic-assisted therapies for Veterans. A growing body of evidence is finding that substances from ketamine and psilocybin to MDMA and ibogaine may be effective for treating Veterans suffering from a wide array of conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even traumatic brain injuries (TBI). 

One leader blazing the trail in exploring innovative mental health treatments for combat Veterans is Dr. Rachel Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry and the neuroscience of trauma at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and the Director of Mental Health at the university’s James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Her recent work has focused on investigating the potential of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in combat Veterans with PTSD. 

Dr. Yehuda expressed her optimism about her team’s findings during a congressional hearing last November, stating, “I’m extremely encouraged by what we have seen, and there is every reason to be extremely optimistic that this is not only a therapy that can help Veterans reduce their PTSD, but also give them a way to reconnect with their purpose and mission.” 

Despite these encouraging findings, hurdles remain on the journey toward widespread adoption of psychedelic therapies, including the need for more comprehensive research and improved treatment access, both of which are stifled by regulatory and legislative constraints. 


The recent surge of positive clinical research, coupled with the undeniable urgency of the need, has sparked a groundswell of support for psychedelic-assisted therapies as a potential game-changer for Veterans facing stubborn mental health challenges.

One poll found that 64% of Veterans and active-duty military personnel support allowing VA doctors to legally recommend psychedelics to Veterans if they believe it can significantly benefit them. Nearly 78% of military family members and 76% of the general population echoed this support.

In response, advocacy groups and key individuals have been raising their voices to push for legislative and regulatory reforms to unlock and expand access to these promising treatments.

A landmark moment in this advocacy effort occurred last November when the House Committee on Veterans Affairs convened in the first congressional hearing on psychedelic therapy for military Veterans. During the hearing, titled “Emerging Therapies: Breakthroughs in the Battle Against Suicide,” Veterans, researchers, and clinicians shared passionate testimonies before members of Congress, weaving together compelling research findings and deeply personal narratives to highlight the critical need for Veteran access to psychedelic therapies.

Advocacy efforts from Veterans themselves have also driven critical progress in this movement. In a hearing before the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission, Veterans like Steve Viola, a retired US Navy SEAL, reflected on their experiences using psychedelics for healing, with the hearing centered on the potential allocation of $42 million towards research into ibogaine treatment. 

“I was trained to run towards gunfire: now I run towards those who are vulnerable,” Viola shared in his presentation. “Devastated by the prolific suicide rate among retired service members, I changed tactics and became a plant-medicine integration coach to assist Veterans in their healing journeys.”

Organizations like Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions, The Mission Within, and Reason for Hope have been instrumental in mobilizing support and pushing for policy changes at both the state and federal levels. These groups tirelessly champion the cause of improving Veteran mental health, seeking to ensure that those who have served our country have access to the most effective treatments available. Their efforts are beginning to pay off, with promising recent developments in legislative reform. 


The National Defense Authorization Act of December 2023 marked a significant milestone in the effort to broaden access to psychedelic therapies for Veterans. For the first time, this annual defense bill included a provision expressly endorsing research into psychedelic therapies for military service members. Under the provisions in the bill, the Department of Defense will allocate $10 million towards clinical studies on psychedelics, and be required to establish a process that enables any military personnel suffering from PTSD or TBI to participate in clinical trials involving psychedelic-assisted treatments. Spearheaded by retired U.S. Navy SEAL Representative Morgan Luttrell, in collaboration with Representative Crenshaw, the legislation signifies a pivotal step forward in addressing the mental health crises facing our service members with innovative and potentially transformative therapeutic options. 

This landmark legislation is backed by a growing body of research supporting the therapeutic potential of substances like MDMA, psilocybin, ibogaine, and 5-MeO-DMT. Thanks to the efforts of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, the evidence surrounding MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD is particularly strong. The organization recently wrapped up its second Phase III clinical trial on the treatment, with tremendously encouraging results, including clinically meaningful improvement in 86% of participants, with 71% no longer meeting the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis.

The bipartisan support garnered by the bill is a testament to its broad appeal and recognition of the urgent need to explore innovative solutions for mental health challenges among service members. Co-sponsors of the bill include bipartisan Representatives including Luttrell, Bergman, Van Orden, Zinke, Gaetz, Ocasio-Cortez, Laurel Lee, Mace, Correa, Moskowitz, Khanna, Blumenauer, Trone, and Bill Johnson.

Furthermore, in early 2024 the Veterans Affairs issued a request to begin accepting applications to fund research explicitly looking at the potential of psychedelics to treat PTSD and depression in Veterans populations, giving researchers the essential money and support they need to conduct research.

At the state level, momentum is building towards easing the path for clinical research and increased treatment access for Veterans and first responders:

  • Connecticut: The Psilocybin Study Workgroup, established under House Bill No. 5506, investigates the therapeutic applications of psilocybin, with a particular focus on Veterans and first responders, laying the groundwork for potential psychedelic treatment programs within the state.
  • Washington: Bipartisan lawmakers have proposed legislation that would legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy for military Veterans and first responders.
  • Colorado: The Natural Health Medicine Act aims to broaden access to alternative medicines, including psychedelics
  • Oregon: The first state to legalize psilocybin with its groundbreaking psilocybin services program, Oregon is leading the charge in providing regulated access to psychedelics for Veterans and non-Veterans alike. 
  • New York: Bill A. 8349 proposes funding for research into psychedelic therapies for military personnel, Veterans, and first responders.
  • Texas: The state’s efforts have focused on leveraging psychedelics, including psilocybin, to address the needs of Veterans with PTSD. Texas has also established a research program to help fund clinical trials within Veteran-specific populations. 
  • California: In early 2024, a California GOP Lawmaker expanded a psychedelic bill to create a workgroup and plan for Veterans therapeutic access to psychedelic therapies. 

These state-level initiatives reflect a growing recognition of the potential benefits of psychedelic therapies in addressing mental health challenges among Veterans, paving the way for expanded access and research in this promising field. 

Wondermed for Veterans: 

Wondermed is committed to making psychedelic-assisted treatments accessible and affordable for military Veterans struggling with mental health challenges. In alignment with this mission, we are proud to offer our ketamine treatment program to Veterans at a special discount of 20% off.

We’ve partnered with to make military status verification quick and easy.

How to Redeem Your Discount:

  1. Answer a few questions to find out if you’re a candidate for treatment.
  2. Verify your military status with when you schedule your first clinician consultation.
  3. Receive a unique discount code within minutes and enter it at checkout to redeem your benefit.

We're committed to introducing new benefits and tailored integration programs designed specifically for our Veteran community. Stay tuned as we continue to build out our Wondermed for Veterans program with additional offerings and benefits to uplift and support the heroic individuals who have served our country.

Learn more about the Wondermed for Veterans program here.

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