Jose Belen is a decorated United States Army Combat veteran and CEO of Florida Mission Zero Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the PTSD and suicide epidemic plaguing U.S. veterans.
A native of Amsterdam in Upstate New York, Jose enlisted in the Army at age 19. He deployed to Iraq in 2003 and spent 14 consecutive months in combat. After his honorable discharge in 2005, Jose eventually moved to Florida. Meanwhile, he was silently battling the debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, with medical and veterans-support systems he had access to offering little help.
Ultimately, however, Jose was able to overcome his personal demons. Inspired by his triumph, in 2017 Jose and his wife Danielle founded Florida Mission Zero, an organization dedicated to proving PTSD isn’t a death sentence for U.S. veterans and their families. To that end, the nonprofit develops targets education and advocacy campaigns, spearheads suicide prevention efforts, and organizes family support initiatives. Jose and Danielle also help business owners expand their veterans outreach and hiring programs, as well as run veterans coaching initiatives.
Based on his own experiences, Jose is an outspoken advocate for compassionate access to medical cannabis for veterans and non-veterans alike. He is one of six individuals and organizations who are currently suing the federal government to remove cannabis from its list of Schedule I drugs. We have invited him on for our latest Weedsday playlist, which includes records by Metallica, Post Malone, Cypress Hill and others.
1. Post Malone - Congratulations
This song for me allows me to kick back, smoke and reminisce on my journey to where I’m at today. To all those teachers and parents to told me I’d be nothing, promising my mom one day I’d make it and make her proud (she literally calls now and says I saw you on tv). It allows me to live in the moment and reflect on all of my accomplishments without anger or sadness, but rather with humility and peace....the constant congratulations I am now told on a daily basis. Simple fact is I was never supposed to “make it.”
Post Malone is from upstate New York just like I am and we didn’t let those who got in our way defy us, those who wished for our failures. So to that I will roll this L and blaze up in Posty’s honor of course as "Congratulations." Goal is to one day smoke a fatty with Posty and just chill.
I was fortunate enough to meet him after his concert in Orlando last year and briefly shared some real words.
2. Metallica - Wherever I May Roam/One
My ritual was to go to my room, black it out in total darkness and put my headphones at beyond maximum volume and close my eyes and blast Metallica, specifically "Wherever I May Roam" over and over and over. This was so once I kicked down that door and got in that house or compound, my adrenaline and mental state knew one thing - CHAOS!!! So I’d storm in there no fear in my eyes, but the stare of the grim reaper going for that insurgent that’s trying to kill me, my team and innocent people.
I now sit back roll up put on "One" and reminisce over the war and how relevant each and every word is to me now as I look back in retrospect. There music was there for me on and off the battlefield. So here’s one to Metallica for making music that matters and resonates with the masses.
3. Matisyahu - One Day
On a daily basis I look at the world and wonder in what shape or form I can do something to make a difference in the world for the greater good of humanity. I daydream of my daughter and son living in a world of peace and harmony, a world without hate, but rather with happiness. My favorite quote is from Mahatma Ghandi “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” This song without a doubt, lyric by lyric gives me nothing but positive vibes, couple that with some good bud and you’re good to go.
Much love Matisyahu for putting out such a powerful song that should inspire each and every one of us to be good to one and other.
4. Rebelution feat. Protoje - Inhale Exhale
This song is a classic definitely a go to for me whenever the stress of the or negativity I encounter gets to be too much. The whole album is incredible, but this song right here just puts the room on chill status...Much respect to Rebelution for this dope a$$ melody to sesh to.
5. Cypress Hill - Dr. Greenthumb
I mean how could I have made this list and not included the OG’s Cypress Hill. This songs takes me back to my childhood (I started smoking cannabis at 12) and remember being yelled at by my parents for listening to this song, but not giving a shit because I could vibe to it and understood each and every lyric. So this song is a def on my sesh playlist. I just gave a speech in DC at the National Cannabis Policy Summit in April and was fortunate enough to have VIP passes to the National Cannabis Festival put on by the NCPS and saw Cypress Hill live. Cross that off the bucket list.