Iraq war vet Mike Whiter has combined his love for photography with his desire to help others battling post-traumatic stress disorder to launch a project called “Operation Overmed.”
Whiter told NBC10 in Philadelphia, he joined the Marines at 19 and eventually became a Staff Sergeant. After the Iraq War, Whiter was diagnosed with PTSD and was medically discharged. He went to a VA Hospital which placed him on medication.
“Over a period of five years I was on 40 different medications. Everything from anti-depressants to anti-anxiety medication,” he said. Wanting to find an alternative to all the prescription pills, Whiter started using medical marijuana. “I threw away my pills and my quality of life is better than it has been in years. I think it is very important to note that cannabis is not a cure for PTSD, but in combination with therapy, it can open a whole new world for you.”
After enrolling at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, Whiter says he was having a hard time photographing subjects in the studio, so his professor suggested he start taking pictures of veterans.
Whiter launched Operation Overmed in June 2. So far, the series has gotten attention from the medical marijuana community, but Whiter hopes the project will reach a wider audience.
Among the photos Included in the series are some very provocative shots of veterans. In one photo a veteran is seen holding his revolver and placing pills in the chambers instead of bullets. Clearly Whiter trying to make a statement here that all these prescription meds are deadly, and it’s much healthier to find alternative routes whether it yoga, acupuncture or pot.
“Twenty-seven states report 22 veteran suicides a day,” Whiter said. “A lot of that can be attributed to the medications because guys with PTSD who are already suicidal are taking medications that have increased risks of suicidal thoughts or actions listed as a side effect,” he told NBC10. “I was one of those guys. I was a slave. I was in my house stuck in my head for like five years man, just on all these pills.”
My husband is in this exact situation as are thousands. I’m trying to establish a support group similar to “triple threat”. Meetings 1-2 times a week for vets and/or wives to get together and talk or just listen and network to allow no man or woman to live alone. I’d like to ask if one can get these art pieces on our walls in the meeting location. We are just starting and hope to have our first meeting in a week or two. I can use all the help, resources, and support possible to get this off the ground. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if any suggestions etc. Or if anyone wants more info. This will be located in Grand Rapids, Michigan . not in downtown area. Thanks in advance for anything you can give or share.
Wife who stayed along the side for 18 yrs with U.S.M.C. vet.
I myself have been battling the internal war for abt 5 yrs now. I have also started to use medical canabis and specific strain types to help. My quality of life is improving. I still can’t shake the bad days that come. But it helps ease those days. I’ve used all the anti depressants enough to fill a ditty bag from boot camp. I can honestly say for me it’s hard to find the support I may need. But I try to talk to people abt these issues yet still no permanant ease to my stress and anxiety levels. Using canabis has honestly given my life back. I can maintain a relationship and a job now. Those things I used to think we’re the easy part of life. But I had to slowly tackle each one at a time. Normal living apt/ house/ then a secure job/ then my relationship. Thru all this I still don’t feel normal but I have achieved the appearance of normal. I’m glad this is out there and being noticed finAlly
I don’t condone or would I smoke weed for PTSD and I don’t like the meds either but they keep me cool and calm without anger as long as I don’t drink. I think at times we vets want to have things our way and getting high and drunk helps. But It is not the answer to the VA Meds or PTSD.