BIG COUNTRY, Texas (BIGCOUNTRYHOMEPAGE) – In this week’s edition of Big Country Politics, News Director Manny Diaz had a conversation with retired lieutenant Navy Top Gun pilot Matthew Buckley about the veteran psychedelic research in the National Defense Authorization Act that the House passed.
“So I flew fighters for 15 years, carried some childhood trauma into my active duty career losing a sister to a drunk driver, and some childhood sexual trauma and then on active duty, and in the reserves, flying the F-18, and I flew at a Naval Air Station Fort Worth and just to the west of the U haul for about five years. And during that time, I lost 16 Brothers, flying fighters, best friends, acquaintances, and in-betweens, and also during that time, three, three brothers, the suicide F-18 pilots, one of them was a groomsman in my wedding, Eric Swenson,” Buckley shared. “So a couple of years ago, I said, man, I got to do something about veteran suicide. I call it putting the ladder down; I need to put the ladder down. Because at the time, two years ago, the stat from Uncle Sam was 17 to 22 ish. Veterans take their own lives every day. That’s just an obscene number. To me, it broke my heart and like, I gotta do something, didn’t know what I was going to do.”
Buckley also addressed the results of a study conducted by the University of Alabama and Duke University on veteran suicide statistics.
“You know what they discovered… the number was closer to 44 veterans take their own lives every day because Uncle Sam was just counting violent veteran suicide like he shot himself or she did this. They weren’t counting drug or alcohol overdoses or, you know, and when they dug into the numbers, it’s like, no, he drank himself to death, or she overdosed. So the number ended up being nearly double what the government was telling us,” Buckley explained. “So I didn’t know what I was going to do to help save veterans lives until somebody said, Hey, man, you should look into this. There’s a group of Navy Seals and Special Forces guys that go down to Mexico. And they do psychedelic drugs, or however they said it. And they said, Hey, there’s a pretty cool group going in a couple of weeks, would you like to go and one of them and one of the guys that was going was Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie, so about that SEAL team, so I went to Mexico with Marcus Luttrell, and also with Jared Taylor, Jared Taylor is one of the founders of Black Rifle Coffee.”
Buckley revealed that this journey had a transformative impact on his life.
“I had no idea. No idea what I was in for that weekend; saved and changed my life. We don’t even have enough time for me to tell you everything that I experienced. But let me just tell you, the five of us that went down there came home completely different human beings, and I healed decades, decades of trauma with psychedelic-assisted therapy,” Buckley said.
He shared that this practice has been around for hundreds of years.
“God put whatever word you want to use God’s source, truth divine creator. I choose to use the word God put these plants on this planet for us to be able to heal. And it’s interesting because we in the West are acting like we just found that, you know, we’re just hearing about this, and let’s do some research,” Buckley expressed. “You go to Peru or the middle of the Amazon, and these medicine women and men look at you like where are you all been? We’ve been doing this since then, 1000s of years, years to heal our people, and you know, welcome to the party.”
Motivated by this, Buckley founded the No Fallen Heroes Foundation, a nonprofit that offers therapeutic grants to veterans, first responders, and their families for participation in healing ceremonies held in Mexico and Costa Rica.
“I gotta be honest with the man, it kind of makes me furious that I gotta take a veteran who incurred injury serving this country to another country to heal their traumas,” Buckley expressed.
He emphasized that there’s often a societal tendency to encourage people to ‘push through’ trauma. Still, he firmly believes that regardless of the type of trauma individuals have experienced, it should be addressed and treated accordingly.
“In the military, there’s definitely a macho or, you know, power through it, right? You know, get up buttercup, and buckle up, and you got to you got to power through stuff. So we recently hosted a retreat for female veterans, and they weren’t frontline combat soldiers, but they had suffered rape and sexual assault during their time in the military. So we, you know, as veterans, we need to do a better job of saying, hey, trauma is trauma. And if you’re suffering from what you incurred serving this nation, you deserve to be healed,” Buckley shared.
When people toss around the use of psychedelics, the Woodstock era and living free sometimes comes to mind. But from Buckley’s perspective, that’s not exactly the case.
“Whenever people hear the word psychedelic, they kind of, you know, Woodstock and hippies and, and our people jumping out of buildings couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s really interesting, Manny, because the definition and let’s let’s talk some Uncle Sam stuff, the definition of a schedule, one drug is a high risk of addiction, and no therapeutic use. I literally just defined a cigarette or alcohol. They’re insanely addictive, and it’ll kill you. These medicines are the most therapeutic thing that I’ve ever experienced in my life. And they’re anti-addictive,” Buckley explained.
He explained that when it comes to the use of psychedelics, it all depends on the medicine.
“So, I did a Boga is the name of the root. So Boga is tree bark from Gabon, Africa, from Central Africa. It’s actually Root Bark. So if you do the Boga, you’re actually chewing on Root Bark. In Iboga, there’s what are called alkaloids, and there’s about 14 alkaloids in the Boga in the West. We pull out one of the alkaloids, and it’s called Ibogaine. And Ibogaine, if you if you look it up, has been used in the West to treat heroin addiction. 85% of heroin addicts after one Ibogaine treatment within three years have never even looked at heroin,” Buckley shared. “Again, Ayahuasca is actually it’s a brew; they take two leaves. I forget the names of the two leaves that they mix together, and it’s kind of like a tea. So when you do an Ayahuasca ceremony, you go sip the tea, so it just depends on the medicine, you know, mushrooms, psilocybin. You know, the folks that do the psilocybin retreats, sometimes you just are eating the dried mushroom and other times they put it in tea. So it just depends on the medicine.”
Regarding this treatment approach, Buckley mentioned that a challenge can arise in relation to pharmaceutical companies.
“It’s a revolving door between the VA and drug companies, man; they’re a pill factory, and giving people pills, kind of numbs the PTS. It doesn’t get to their core and gut what is truly ailing somebody on the inside of physical injury or even a moral injury. So these medicines go in and actually go deeper than any of these drugs. So to your point, Big Pharma ain’t digging it right now,” Buckley said.
He revealed that certain companies are starting to explore psychedelic treatments by modifying the medicinal substances.
“On one hand, they’re kind of trying to bad mouth at or at least, you know, say, Ooh, you know, beware of these things. And at the same time, I know for a fact because I got my intelligence network, they’re trying to build a moat around these things, right, you know, the, to patent or trademark stuff,” Buckley said. “But God, whatever word you want to use is a pretty smart pharmacologist, you can’t patent a route. You can’t trademark toad. Right? But in the labs, they’re trying to take, you know, change this, I’m not a chemistry guy or whatever, but they’re trying to maybe take the psychedelic out of the psychedelic, meaning my 12-hour journey and Ibogaine, maybe they play with the Ibogaine a little bit and you know now Pfizer, this is our thing, it’s only a two-hour journey and type of thing. So I know Big Pharma is in here tinkering with all of this stuff, and it kind of gives me pause, so they are speaking with forked tongue. They can’t stop this.”
When discussing the spiritual aspect, especially the potential of encountering unwanted visions through psychedelic use, Buckley clarified that he has never encountered anything that wasn’t already within him.
“I treated this like a combat mission. You were briefed, you’re given contingencies, you’re given you know how to pilot this thing in case there are anything negative that pops up, and you’re taught that nothing negative pops up. First of all, nothing that I experienced wasn’t already inside me. There is no random guy with a chainsaw is going to, you know, jump out of the woods or something like that. So it’s not a hallucinogen. The Ibogaine is everything that’s already inside of you. So I, you know, knock on wood,” Buckley shared. “Anybody who I’ve ever experienced that saw something negative, once they leaned into it or put some light on it, it completely disintegrated and went away. I have never quote unquote, heard somebody have a quote, bad trip. There’s something always to be learned, and whatever that bad is, and it’s not bad once you put the light on it.”
Buckley shared a message he would like to send out to those wanting to learn more about this.
“The immediate thing I have to tell you is there is a way out; healing absolutely is possible. If you’re sitting there in the gray or in the dark, I’ve been you. I’ve been lying on a bathroom floor, man, and I have had my dark nights of the soul. And these medicines are potentially life-saving and life-changing. So, the first thing I have to tell you is that healing is possible. It makes my heart great to go on a retreat. I hear from these wives or whatever they’re like, ‘If my husband had known about this medicine, he’d be here today; he wouldn’t have taken his own life,’ or at the end of a retreat, I get a big hug from a veteran that says ‘Whiz. I don’t want to kill myself anymore.’ And that just I can’t even put into words how that feels. Because, as you know, suicide is just a generational hand grenade that can be just a horror,” Buckley said.