Five years…wow! Five years feels like yesterday…and a lifetime ago. To turn back the clock five years, you would have found us diligently working through the complicated logistics of forming a nonprofit organization…the arduous IRS application process, the formation documents and filings, the uncertainty of abandoning careers and life paths to pursue something much bigger than ourselves. You would have found us embarking upon a journey that has been propelled by an innate sense of conviction, trust, and determination…one that would require great sacrifice and patience, be tested by a global pandemic, and produce the most unbelievably amazing and gratifying work we could ever imagine.

If you told us 5 years ago that VETS would be a leading organization in the global psychedelic renaissance, we probably would not have believed it…primarily because the psychedelic movement was really just beginning to gain traction. When Marcus opted to pursue ibogaine in 2017, there was no Michael Pollan book (How to Change Your Mind)…nor were there articles about psychedelics in almost every major news publication or social media feeds filled with all sorts of psychedelic topics and resources. There were no state policy initiatives or discussions about psychedelic therapies on Capitol Hill. If anything, there was a lack of substantive dialogue and education about psychedelics, leaving a void filled by long standing stigma and counterculture leftovers from nearly a half-century of lost time.

Same story goes if you told us that we’d be spokespeople in this dynamic movement that is sweeping across our nation and around the globe. It was never our intention to be so public, which would inevitably mean reliving the worst days of our lives time and time again…and on a public stage nonetheless. What we would have believed, however, is our distinct will to fight…and not just fight for our family and future, but for our community and other military veteran families, most of which we will never know.

The SEAL, SOF, and the broader veteran communities are rooted in the deep conviction of taking care of one another. This is why Marcus’ first words out of ibogaine in 2017 were, “this is exactly what the guys need.” Turns out, psychedelic therapy isn’t just what ‘the guys’ need, it’s what many have needed in effectively addressing root cause trauma and finding peace with a past that no longer has to hold hostage those who have lived it. It’s hard work, dedication, commitment, compassion, and surrender. It’s freedom.

Over the past five years we’ve had the distinct honor of paying this gift of healing forward to other families who’ve sacrificed so much for our nation, and bring hope to non-veteran families alike. VETS has provided millions of dollars in direct funding support to veterans, developed world-class programming and support mechanisms for those in our healing community, engaged in robust education and awareness campaigns for the public, worked diligently to change the narrative on psychedelics, helped advance critical science, and worked tirelessly on state and federal policy initiatives.

Perhaps the most gratifying component of all of this work, however, has been witnessing the spirit of the veteran community rise up to continue the mission of caring for one another. Whether it’s through service as a VETS Ambassador, participation in community events, sharing their stories, or referring friends and former teammates to the VETS program, the spirit of paying it forward is alive and well within the VETS’ community.

A lot can happen in five years! In another five years, it’s our hope that more research will support our assertion that psychedelic therapies are powerful and effective tools at addressing root cause issues within the veteran community…and eventually that all veterans will have access to psychedelic therapies right here in the United States. We won’t stop fighting for this outcome.

The VETS’ mission has been divinely blessed since its inception in 2019, with unbelievable momentum and success that is truly difficult to comprehend in such a short period of time. It is our hope and prayer that the next five years will be even more impactful as we continue to operate on the firm foundation of our past, unshakable shared purpose, and the timeless dynamics of effective teamwork in achieving the ultimate goal of ending veteran suicide.

Happy 5th Birthday to VETS, and thank you to the incredible team that makes it all possible!

Amber and Marcus Capone
VETS, Inc.