Crystal Bates-Chappell was “dysfunctional and without direction” after her time in the Navy. Bates-Chappell credits her ability to find a new direction with one decision. She chose cannabis as a means of healing both mentally and physically.
Now that her garden brings her purpose and joy, which greatly improved her quality of life, Bates-Chappell wanted to help other Battle Buddies discover the same love for medical cannabis, including learning how grow their own. Instead, what she discovered first was Battle Buddies distressed because a scammer on social media had ripped them off and others struggling with the processes of growing their own medicine. So Bates-Chappell decided to take action.
Bates-Chappell founded VETGardens, “an organization dedicated to the assistance of Veteran brothers and sisters who are interested in the healing properties of cannabis.” VETGardens helps first-time Veteran growers with supplies, tips, loving communities, and more. The VET in VETGardens stands for Veteran Encouraged Therapy.
“Now, my main goal is to assist those who were in need like me,” Bates-Chappell said. “Particularly, I want to show them the light and joy cannabis has brought into my life, throughout the plant’s lifecycle. We also wanted to be able to collect funds and help our Battles attain good quality equipment, so that they can free themselves of the monetary burden the dispensaries place on medical patients.”
Bates-Chappell and Co-Founder Jake N. Williams, who recently retired from the Army and became a grower to assist with his service-connected injuries, believe Veterans need open access to cannabis.
“This is important for Veteran’s because it allows the individual the freedom to choose their strains they wish to grow for their self care,” said Bates-Chappell. “There is a level of pride and accomplishment when you see a plant from seed to flower. You bond with them and know that they depend on you for all of their care. You can speak to your plants, and they listen. I have went through all sorts of emotions in my grow room, from ecstatic to devastated. Getting your hands in soil is exceptionally therapeutic on many levels, causing endorphins to release that natural feel good for guaranteed smiles.”
VETGardens hopes to expand with chapters in every state, increase access for more Veterans helping Veterans.
“This is also a project to reconnect our Battle Buddies with each other, in an effort to inspire them to do events, cannabis related or not, in groups together,” Bates-Chappell said.
VETGardens has a donation tabs on the website, with 100% of the proceeds going back to Veterans in the form of events, growing supplies, and genetics. And you can purchase VETGardens gear here. VETGardens also has a “Roll Call” Google Doc on its website that allows Veterans to verify their status for things like giveaways and growing competition entries, etc.
VETGardens has scheduled a Veteran-focused cannabis-friendly even in southern Illinois. The So. ILL Chill is set for August 5 for Veterans and August 6 for Veterans and the general public. August 5 is catered toward Veterans who want to arrive early from in and out of state and just chill. August 6 is set for a full day of activities, and day-pass tickets are open to the public. On August 6, the So. ILL Chill is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the KOA in Grayville. To learn about cannabis-friendly events in Illinois, click here.
To qualify and receive a medical patient card at a discounted rate, click here.
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