The announcement by Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison of a long-awaited royal commission into suicide among the veteran and defence community shines a spotlight on the challenges they can face from a mental and physical health perspective, and is a welcome move.

Many veterans have experienced extreme situations and may suffer from complex conditions, which include chronic pain and PTSD. Cannabis can be a very effective treatment for many of these patients, improving their quality of life considerably.

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The challenge of finding a supportive team, with experience in cannabinoid medicines, and the impetus to undertake the processes necessary to prescribe medical cannabis for them, is just the first step in a long journey for veterans.

CA Clinics medical director and addiction specialist Dr Mark Hardy

Getting approval from the DVA to fund costs for these patients is rarely straightforward, but with the clinical support of the right medical specialist and administrative team, it is possible.

At CA Clinics, our team of specialists and support staff are well versed in each step of the application and approval process for medical cannabis and DVA funding approval.

In my discussions with vets, many have told me that they have suffered enough in their service to our country; and that the physical and mental toll that it has taken on them is often profound.

Accordingly, they report additional hurt and pain caused by the administrative and bureaucratic bottlenecks that come with approvals for effective treatments, including medical cannabis, and the commensurate DVA paperwork. Despite counselling a message of patience to them, many have experienced delays in other approvals before they met me.

Currently, the DVA provides approval for medical cannabis treatment costs for chronic pain patients where there is sufficient evidence to support its efficacy. This has already been established and is embedded within TGA guidelines for prescribing cannabis for this condition. Having to re-prove the case twice for another federal government body, the DVA, is generally not well accepted by the community of veterans I’ve treated.