The Operation Grow4Vets Team

Roger Martin

Executive Director - CoFounder

A U.S. Army veteran, Roger has been in constant pain since the early 1970’s. Shortly after a new “miracle drug” Oxycontin hit the market, Roger’s civilian doctor prescribed it for pain relief. The manufacturer claimed that it was non-addictive. They later paid a $250 million fine for that lie, an amount that is probably less than they make from the sale of this poison each day.

Taking a daily dose of 180mg of Oxycontin, Roger made two failed attempts at quitting cold turkey. Both resulted in his hospitalization. In 2010, he met a doctor who recommended that he undergo treatment with another narcotic drug called Suboxone and that he supplement that with medical marijuana.

Desperate to rid himself of Oxycontin before it killed him, Roger agreed to undergo this medically supervised therapy in October 2010. He stopped taking Oxycontin the first day of the therapy, switching to Suboxone. Concerned he was simply exchanging one addictive drug for another, Roger managed to wean himself off of Suboxone in a mere 5-1/2 weeks. He later learned that his doctor had neglected to tell him that Suboxone therapy is supposed to last for 12-18 months. Roger now eats a marijuana infused cookie at night to reduce his pain to a level where he can now sleep 4-6 hours a night.

Over the past several years, Roger has met both adults and children who have experienced the beneficial effects of using marijuana for the treatment of PTSD, TBI, MS, Epilepsy, and chronic pain. He has also personally witnessed the usefulness of marijuana in helping chemotherapy patients who were suffering from issues relating to the complete loss of appetite. Roger has often stated that, “Anyone who would deny treatment with marijuana to a seriously or terminally ill person is either incredibly uninformed, or simply lacks any measure of compassion for his or her fellow human beings.”

As a result of his personal life experiences, Roger is no longer a believer in the myth that marijuana has no medicinal value. Further inspired by encounters with fellow Vets who are suffering from service connected disabilities, he founded Operation Grow4Vets. Roger believes that marijuana should be the first choice for doctors treating veterans and children with serious medical conditions. He works tirelessly to convince VA administrators, elected officials, and medical professionals that marijuana is a better option for Vets than the dangerous prescription medications that result in the death of an American every nineteen minutes.


Nicholas Martin

Director of Operations - CoFounder

After watching his father, Roger, struggle with obtaining medical marijuana of a consistently high quality, Nick took matters into his own hands. After years of hard work, Nick mastered the art of growing the highest quality indoor, hydroponic marijuana.

As a result, Nick was able to provide Roger with the medicine he needed. Word of his skills spread and he quickly became a favorite grower of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout California.

Learning that Roger wanted to start a nonprofit organization that would provide veterans with medical issues with free marijuana, as well as with the knowledge, training, and equipment needed to grow their own marijuana, Nick relocated to Colorado and joined Roger in founding Operation Grow4Vets.

In his capacity as Director of Operations, Nick oversees the development and production of proprietary strains of marijuana for use by the veterans served by Operation Grow4Vets. He also coordinates production with individuals and companies that provide marijuana and marijuana related products for distribution to veterans.

In addition, Nick provides education and support to veterans who are growing their own marijuana with equipment provided to them free of charge by Operation Grow4Vets. He can often be found pursuing his favorite activity, working alongside a Vet in their home garden.


Johnny Horne

Director of Scientific Research and Development

Born in San Diego, California and raised in Sarasota, Florida, Johnny received a B.S. in Biological and Chemical Sciences, with minors in Spanish and Biochemistry from Florida State University. He followed this up with a Master’s degree in Molecular and Cell Biology with a concentration in Protein Biotechnology.

Johnny has worked in the National High Magnetic Field Lab in Tallahassee, Florida, as a research assistant and lab technician studying Enzyme Biophysics and microbiology. He also worked as an analytical technician in the biomedical lab at the Capital Regional Medical Center.

As a student Johnny was exposed to a wide array of research topics including Zoology, Biophysics, Phylogenetic's, Microbiology, Biotechnology, Organic Chemistry, and Molecular Biology. As part of his experience in molecular biology research he worked with Cannabis plants to contribute to the field of genetics.

During his time at Florida State University Johnny contributed to peer reviewed papers in the fields of Zoology, Biophysics, Enzyme Study and Molecular Biology.

While attending Florida State University, Johnny’s alter ego performed as a Trapeze artist and acrobat in FSU’s Flying High Circus.

As Director of Scientific Research and Development for Operation Grow4Vets, Johnny personally oversees and manages every aspect of product research and development.


Aimée Kahl

Operations Manager

Aimee’ Kahl is a graduate of Appalachian State University and has worked in several industries including the music industry (Sony), videography, office administration, web design, social media marketing, and product development.

Upon her husband, Matt’s entry into the Army, Aimee’ quickly became involved in the Family Readiness Group. First as a Point of Contact for families, later as treasurer, and eventually as Family Readiness Group Leader. Being able to help the families of the soldiers in her husband’s Company was one of the most fulfilling positions Aimee’ has held. Working with soldiers and their families taught Aimee’ many lessons about compassion and the unfortunate reality of the unseen trauma associated with PTSD.

Upon her Matt’s separation from the Army, Aimee’ and her family moved back home to North Carolina. Aimee’ watched in dismay as Matt suffered from PTSD, TBI, and several other debilitating conditions. She often feared that he would not survive. When Matt insisted that they move to Colorado so that he could try medical cannabis, Aimee’ agreed.

Since moving to Colorado in the summer of 2013 Aimee’ has seen an amazing transition in Matt. Most importantly, she notes, Matt is once again happy to be alive and looks forward to his future. He is well on his way to once again becoming the loving husband and father that he was before sustaining his combat-related injuries.

Aimee’ is passionate about helping others, especially wounded Veterans and their families. She wants them to know that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel that is PTSD.

Aimee’ is honored to now be giving back to those that have served our country through her work with Operation Grow4Vets. She is a hardworking member of our team and is willing to do whatever it takes to help us achieve our goal of helping the heroes who have served and sacrificed so much.


Matthew Kahl

Director of Horticulture

Matthew Kahl served with the U.S Army 101st Airborne Infantry (Air Assault), 1/506th Infantry Regiment “Band of Brothers”. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan. After his first deployment, he had his first bout with PTSD, but denied it to himself, his family, and his unit.

During his second deployment, he sustained injuries during a combat patrol in which a medic was killed and two other soldiers wounded. His maxilla was broken, he sustained a TBI and associated spinal injuries. After his medevac from theater, the military did its best to treat his injuries in the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Fort Campbell, KY.

As a Wounded Warrior, he received the best care the military had to offer. This essentially meant that he was given a long list of pharmaceutical medications, some with debilitating side effects. The medications left him numb to the pain but also numb to life. After his service ended, Matthew was eventually offered cannabis by a civilian as an alternative to the harsh chemical pills the doctors dished out on a regular basis. Suddenly his overactive, hyper-vigilant mind calmed down, his pain subsided, and the pharmaceutical fog lifted.

He left for Colorado shortly thereafter to take advantage of this new, safer treatment option. He hasn’t looked back since. Most of his medications have been eliminated with the help of cannabis. He can walk now without the aid of a cane. Matthew has seen firsthand the benefit cannabis can have for mental and physical conditions of all kinds.

Matthew’s background is in Neuroscience (Appalachian State University), an interdisciplinary field that exposed him to elements of psychopharmacology, biochemistry, and receptor chemistry. His work with Dr. Mark Zrull helped elucidate the microscopic structure and function of the inferior colliculus in the brain.

The genetics and breeding of Cannabis species and varietals has been an ongoing area of research. Matthew now operates a small facility developing new cannabis cultivars for both the industrial hemp and medical marijuana markets. He plans to make these units available to other veterans through Operation Grow4Vets.

Matthew is one of the core group of volunteers who helped to launch Operation Grow4Vets. As Director of Horticulture he works closing with Johnny Horne, Director of Research and Development and Nick Martin, Director of Operations.


Dale Blackburn

Chaplain

Dale has been one of the biggest supporters of Operation Grow4Vets since it’s earliest days. He has also been one of the most generous.

At the age of 4, Dale’s mother abandoned him and his younger twin brother and sister, who was afflicted with Cerebral palsy. The resulting trauma resulted in Dale developing PTSD. Dale’s father tried his best to raise his children and turned to his church for guidance and support.

Dale was forbidden from every speaking his mother’s name. Dale says that this caused him to become an emotionally hardened child who had no idea what love was.

By the time Dale was in 7th grade he decided that he would someday join the Army. He joined the Cadet Corp in California and obtained his GED. Dale enlisted in the Army the day after his 17th birthday and while serving spent 3 years as a Crew Chief on a UH-1.

After his discharge from the Army, Dale says that he “did everything wrong.” According to Dale, he drank too much alcohol and took every drug that he could get his hands on. He made everyone around him suffer.

Finding himself in trouble and in a VA Psych ward, Dale immersed himself in his work as a concrete worker. Rather than attending church, Dale spent every spare moment studying religion. His broad knowledge of religions of the world as well as his firm belief that their is only one God, makes Dale the ideal person to serve as Operations Grow4Vets’ nondenominational Chaplain.

All Veterans, as well as family members and friends are strongly encouraged to contact Dale for guidance, support, and encouragement. All contacts with Dale are held in the strictest of confidence.


Brian Nance

Veteran Liaison

Brian is a combat veteran who served as an infantry heavy weapons expert with Baker Company, 2/12, 4th Infantry Division in the Korengal Valley, in the Kunar and Laghman Provinces, Zhari district in Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

The Korengal Valley is a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold and is well known for its rough terrain and brutal fire fights. On August 13, 2009, Brain’s unit was ordered to enter a village to disarm enemy combatants. The patrol was ambushed and took causalities, including Brian.

Brian was medevaced out of the Korengal Valley to Jalalabad Airfield where he was hospitalized. He was later transported to Bagram Airfield and then on to Landstuhl, Germany. He was returned to the States and eventually medically retired. Brian spent weeks in a hospital bed, followed by months in a wheelchair. Through hard work and extensive rehabilitation, Brian was eventually able to walk with the aid of crutches and finally, without assistance.
Over the next couple of years, Brian dealt with debilitating pain and was prescribed numerous narcotic pain relievers, as well as other prescription medications. He also struggled with emotional issues relating to his combat experiences and was eventually diagnosed with both PTSD and TBI.
After receiving our assistance, Brian graciously agreed to join the Operation Grow4Vets team. Brian is also a certified service dog trainer. He assists veterans in obtaining service dogs and conducts weekly training sessions for veterans and their dogs. He has also conducted service dog demonstrations for Army and Air Force mental health professionals.