Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, are forming an unlikely alliance, teaming up in a bid to allow troops access to psychedelic drugs.
“Psychedelics have shown so much promise,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the effort, according to a report from the New York Daily News. “We desperately need the resources to treat PTSD, traumatic brain injury and depression. At least one in two PTSD patients cannot tolerate or do not respond adequately to existing treatments.”
The progressive lawmaker’s comments come as the military and Department of Veterans Affairs grapple with the growth of post-traumatic stress disorder in the ranks, an ailment that has doubled among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan compared to Vietnam-era veterans. According to the VA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 450,000 combat veterans have suffered from a some sort of traumatic brain injury between 2000 and 2021.
But new data suggest that unorthodox treatments with psychedelics help, leading Crenshaw and Ocasio-Cortez to form an unlikely alliance.
“This is a real wild coalition,” Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL veteran who lost an eye in Afghanistan, said of his partnership with Ocasio-Cortez, according to the New York Daily News.
Crenshaw said the issue has personally touched him, recounting the stories of friends who have returned from war and were not cured of their aliments until they gained access to psychedelics, which are typically illegal in the United States.
“I was turned on to this issue because I had so many friends… who were going down to a specific clinic and doing ibogaine – one treatment of ibogaine would cure them,” Crenshaw said.
The duo targeted this year’s National Defense Authorization Act to introduce their proposal, managing to get a “watered-down version” of the bill they authored into the massive yearly legislation.
Crenshaw said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has promised the lawmakers to get a comprehensive version of the bill, which will include funding and clinical trials, in the legislation during meetings with the Senate to combine the two chamber’s versions of the bill.
Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez called on veterans to apply pressure to the Senate to make sure the provision gains approval.
“I know the power of this community to rise up and make itself heard,” Ocasio-Cortez said.