Hey Operation 1620 friends and family! I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share my story with you guys and let others know that there doesn’t have to be such a shitty stigma around the world of utilizing that 1620 herb. To quickly introduce myself…my name Stephen Gurka III, from College Station, Texas, USMC veteran and co-founder of Elevated Stash, a smokers subscription box.
I was the typical military story, came from nothing, hated the idea of college nor could I afford it, and joined the Marine Corps in February 2008. While serving in the Marines, I was stationed in Jacksonville, NC as a 6672 Aviation Supply Specialist for MALS-29. I served overseas with the 22 MEU and spent time in Kuwait, Iraq, and Pakistan. After getting out of the military, Alex, my business partner, and I actually came up with the idea for a smokers subscription box. This was 2 years ago after I experienced several bad trips to the VA Hospital. Most veterans will understand what I mean when I say “bad experience at the VA,” haha. As a Marine veteran, I suffer from several issues, but one of the main ones being insomnia. I was seeing several doctors at the VA Hospital to help with the issues but quickly realized that the only options offered to help were pills on top of more addicting pills. One of the main pills being ambien, which if you aren’t familiar with the side effects, just do a simple google search and you’ll see!
Around the same time, I was enrolled in school via the GI Bill at Southern Methodist University, a private college in Dallas, TX. After research and writing my thesis at SMU on how medical Marijuana affects Veterans with PTSD, I came to find out that veterans fall under Federal law, not state law, and have barely any to no access to alternative medicine versus prescription pills, which are harmful, cause more issues, and are extremely addictive. As times are changing, Alex and I found that slowly but surely, veterans are gaining access across the nation and being allowed to smoke as a form of medication, but the items and accessories needed were very pricey. Not only that, but there wasn’t a solid avenue pertaining to veterans in which we could even discuss this topic yet alone shed light on it.
In June 2017, while I was attending summer school at SMU and Alex working his full-time career, we both decided to dive into launching our smokers subscription box business. Elevated Stash is a veteran owned smokers subscription box and unique online headshop. We create new boxes each month and deliver them discreetly to your doorstep. Our main box, “Pikes Peak,” costs $29.99 and features a brand new piece of glass each month with eight-ten other smoking accessories (cancel anytime).
What makes us different is that we also strive to give back. Since the beginning of launch, we decided to be this impact, and from every single sale, we donate a portion to charity to help veterans. Each month we partner with a new charity, in which we extensively research and reach out to. We also donate gift boxes, glass pieces, and accessories to various Operation 1620 Breakfast Buds events, NORML organizations, and veterans events across the nation. We attend meetings, rallies, and speak at various groups such as DFW NORML and HCC. This is the forefront of our company, and we want the public to know the truth about medical marijuana and the benefits it can have for not only veterans, but anyone suffering from pain, certain illnesses, insomnia, among many other things. The public needs to understand that laboratory created pills are not the ONLY answer. Veterans should be able to have a legitimate conversation with their doctor to find out if alternative medicine could potentially be a second option.
The thing about us veterans, and I can’t speak for them all…but from my own perspective of what I’ve seen and been told, and also how I feel personally…we just want to stop the pain, to be able to sleep, to be ourselves. Taking 10-15 prescription pills does not do that. Change is coming.
Stephen Gurka III
P.S. Shoutout to every single person involved at Operation 1620. For real, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many non profits over these past 2 years and I’m blown away at the content this group produces, the time they put into the events, the emails, the website, the selfless acts of kindness and friendship they offer…all for fucking free. These guys really do go above and beyond to not only shed light on a soon to be ending stigma, but they truly do care and have boots on the ground helping veterans day in and day out. This is the type of work that we want to be apart of across the nation and Alex and I are proud as fuck to be donating to them continuously and hope to be present at their events here in the near future.