For many years, one Riverina veteran says doctors have told him a shopping bag full of medication was a reality he must live with.
But about three weeks ago Mick, who kept his surname anonymous for privacy reasons, was told by a Albury-based general practitioner there might be another option for him - medicinal cannabis.
He picked up the shopping bag, rhyming off a list of prescriptions found inside; opioids, anti-depressants, blood thinners, Valium, pain killers and so forth.
"You get sick of taking all of this, it's not living," he said.
At the age of 48 Mick said he would never work again, which was "hard to deal with".
He joined the Australian Defence Force in 1990 and trained at Kapooka, before moving on to become a combat engineer.
But, his four-year military career was short-lived when he was discharged for an ongoing injury.
"Three times I broke (my wrist) and punched a bone out there," he said pointing to the side of his wrist. "I wasn't allowed to do my job anymore, so I was let out."
His injuries did not stop there. Mick also has compression fractures on his lower, middle and upper spine, living everyday in "constant pain".
"I use to be extremely fit and now I can't do anything, all they do is shove pills at me," he said.
"I am on the maximum dose of everything there is and I still get so nervous around people and sweat."
Despite his willingness to give medicinal cannabis a shot, it could be a six month wait for Mick, who is still in the early stage of the application.
"It is way too long because I have been on suicidal row for a long time now," he said.
"I can't take a shopping bag full of tablets ... especially when there is something out there that can help and apparently it can, and make a difference."
His hopes are that medicinal cannabis will "help with everything"; the pain, PTSD, severe depression, the anxiety and the hyper-vigilance.
Mick said it was his belief that if the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes could be legally prescribed to other people then it was not right that veterans in his situation can not easily access the medication.
He said medical professionals need to educate themselves about medicinal cannabis because it is helping those veterans who are lucky enough to have access.
"Something needs to happen to stop all my mates from dying," he said.
"I have too many friends that couldn't handle it anymore, it is tough.
"And I know exactly how they feel because I have been in the exact same situation."
Local veteran Nathan Dean's life changed when his friend from America sent him a Christmas parcel last year.
In the box was a candy bar containing the ingredient Cannabidiol (CBD), commonly found in the cannabis plant.
"It was one tiny bar, 10 grams, and I ate it and 30 minutes later I felt really good," Mr Dean said.
After 16 years in the defence force, Mr Dean was medically discharged about two years ago. He said he closed himself off to the world.
He went months on end without leaving his home, apart from the rare trip to the neighbourhood shop.
I lost my sense of purpose ... and to have that taken away from me so quickly, and in an abrupt way, I felt robbed.Nathan Dean
Mr Dean was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
When he returned, he said there were signs of a post traumatic stress disorder.
"I was jumpy, I was frightened all the time and started to withdraw from everybody," he said.
It reached the point where he sought proper treatment at a mental health hospital in Canberra, but as soon as he entered the building he knew it was the end of his career.
"(Defence) said they were there to help, but it was like I was tainted and sick, contagious and 'get rid of him'," he said.
He struggled with his mental health "big time" post-military. And on top of this, Mr Dean was coping with severe back pain.
He said he was ready to take his life three times, but his family helped him find his way out every time.
"If my pain goes up, my mental health declines," he said.
"I was on all these medications that would make me groggy throughout the day - my days were a blur."
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After researching marijuana for medicinal use, Mr Dean decided he would apply for cannabis oil.
He has been taking the oil, as well as prescribed Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - also found in the cannabis plant - for almost one year.
Before medicinal cannabis, Mr Dean took anywhere between three to five Endone tablets each day. Now, he no longer needs the opioid, he said.
Mr Dean said he was still taking other medications in conjunction with the cannabis oil, which have completely removed his pain and boosted his mental health.
Outside cannabis clinics, Mr Dean said it was difficult to find a medical professional in Wagga who was willing to write a prescription.
He believes it comes down to the lack of education.
"Even though it is a medicine and comes with a script, people still see it as a drug because marijuana is tainted with the reputation of a gateway drug," he said.
"Opioids are a gateway drug. It's addictive, whereas this stuff ... I don't need to increase the amount because it is effective.
"I found with opioids my body adjusted ... and that's why I was taking more, it started a vicious cycle."
Even if doctors are open to prescribing medicinal cannabis, Mr Dean said the cost is another obstacle in the way for most veterans.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs does consider funding medicinal cannabis for clients under a specific set of circumstances, which includes a written assessment from the treating specialist that the prescription will clinically benefit the patient.
Mr Dean made a claim with the DVA in January and is still waiting for an answer to help cover the costs.
The price of his prescription - a 10 millilitre bottle of CBD and 110 millilitres of THC - is $635.
"I'm still waiting ... I just need the red tape to be cut," he said.
- If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, contact Open Arms veterans and families counselling on 1800 011 046, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 224 636.