A Message of Hope from the VET Team
VET Mission Statement:
We are a federally-recognized 501.C3 Nonprofit organization.
We, the veterans of these United States, hereby dedicate this group as a tribute to the inter-disciplinary efforts of those who have and still are dedicating their lives to the healing and betterment of all veterans, both past and present, and remembering those who fell both abroad and at home that cannot be here today. Furthermore, we as the recipients of various pathologies directly linked to service, are also active subscribers to the notion of "self-help", embodying and implementing the disciplines and values that were bestowed upon us by our specific branches of service, and turning them inward as we learn to transition back into our culture to become fully-functional members of a society that we believed in when we signed up. Through this group, we feel it necessary to recognize and address deeper areas of the human condition that can often times be overlooked by conventional 19th century models of Psychoanalysis. Among these notions include the proliferation of suffering specifically from those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, by bridging the gap between various new alternative clinical practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and the medicinal application of healing entheogens while integrating at its very foundation, the statement of "safe set and setting". By which, might, just might lead to the extrication of stigma that underlies the open discussion as it pertains to these plants.
Ryan LeCompte, MA (Founder/Executive Director) USMC MOS 0311
Mindfulness-Based Clinical Psychotherapist, Naropa University Alumni
Ryan LeCompte is a former United States Marine Infantryman (MOS 0311) who served on active-duty from 2007-2011. He has served out of Camp Lejeune, Quantico and White House operations in Washington, D.C. He earned his Masters Degree in Mindfulness-based Psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. He is a practicing psychotherapist in Colorado and has over 8 years of experience working with addiction and trauma as an addictions counselor and Gestalt therapist.
How did VET start?
While still on active duty, he served with his fellow combat Marines returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, yet observed that they risked being labeled “failure to adapt” and/or discharged if they talked about their problems. The heart-ache became more personal when he found one of his brothers, a fellow infantryman Sgt. Jorge Leon-Alcivar in his barracks room the morning after he took his own life. Sgt. Leon had just returned from deployment to Iraq with 3rd Marines 2nd Battalion and was clearly struggling with PTSD. Shortly thereafter, Ryan decided to retire from the military in order to help his brothers and sisters from outside the confines of military structure. He began by volunteering hours in the waiting rooms of VA clinics talking to and assisting vets awaiting treatment. He started collecting data for his undergraduate on the prescription medications being given to veterans diagnosed with PTSD, and found the same kind of cocktails being prescribed to almost every one of them. (Anti-depression, sedating anxiolitics, and heavy barbiturates for sleeping.
"These drugs seem to shut out experiences associated with trauma by numbing them.", Ryan states, "and this came across to me to be not only exacerbating the symptoms, but also creating new ones. It went against the values and virtues that we as veterans came to embody while on active duty, a few of them being courage and commitment."
Shortly thereafter, he began his search for alternative treatment options not being used by the VA. Recently, Ryan has organized a trip to the jungles of Peru with a group of vets suffering from PTSD to experience a ceremony and plans future excursions for healing. As a psychotherapist, he works with a self-developed western trauma-informed shamanic model as his foundation with a driving focus in Gestalt, Somatic, and Jungian approaches to trauma and addictions. He believes that PTSD and addiction are deeply rooted in childhood trauma and works from a dual-diagnostic perspective. As a patient himself diagnosed with PTSD, he has dedicated his life to addressing suffering, and has worked with both civilians and veterans with PTSD and addiction for over 8 years.
With the experience gained from his connection in his community both in the United States and abroad, Ryan has developed a practical working model that helps patients suffering from addiction and trauma that gives them the ability to integrate their sometimes difficult and sometimes “enlightening” experiences gained under the influence of ayahuasca. Ryan believes that peak experiences hold the key to recovery in regards to many forms of mental illness, but that the real work begins not on the mountain, but in the valley. (Interpersonal/Intrapersonal relationships, etc) He believes recovery and quality of life is a matter of altering consciousness, and working with crisis and trauma at the root may prove effective.
Ryan is also collecting scientific data using rigorous tools of measurement including the CAPS scale, to measure the effect of ayahuasca on PTSD. He is currently working through an Institutional Review Board to submit his findings for peer-review, and hopefully publication. He hopes to bridge the connection between psychedelics and the human experience in order to ground psychedelics into therapy. He is developing frameworks centered around psychedelics and transpersonal psychotherapy, including harm reduction and various forms of mindfulness-based practices.
Matthew Simpson, Outreach Program Manager
Lorena Santacruz, PR and Social Media Manager
James Reed, Street Team Manager and Special Events Coordinator