Author: Gabrielle Fonrouge
Jose Belen was just 20 years old when he and a team of U.S. Army combat soldiers accidentally shot a 7-year-old Iraqi girl in the head during a firefight at the start of the Iraq War.
Fifteen years later, the veteran still struggles to shake that image from his head.
“I watched her die in front of me, closing her eyes and all of that,” Belen told The Post. “I can’t even see my daughter lay down because it reminds me.”
Belen, a native New Yorker, has been struggling with PTSD ever since and for over ten years of his life, he contemplated suicide on a nearly daily basis. He said despite all the pills he was told to take from the VA hospital, marijuana that was given to him by a friend was the drug that saved him.
On Wednesday, he came from Florida to Manhattan federal court, where he and five other plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Drug Enforcement Agency to make it easier for veterans to obtain medical cannabis.
“As we speak this morning, there’s a veteran somewhere in America that’s committed suicide. We lose a veteran every 90 minutes or so somewhere in this country… Jeff Sessions, look into your heart,” Belen said in front of the courthouse to a crowd of supporters shortly before a hearing on the case.
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