From a box of WWII medals to Grunt Style gear

Tim Jensen’s path to joining the Marine Corps began with the accidental discovery of a box of his grandfather’s medals from World War II and a Memorial Day trip to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Transition was challenging for Jensen, who served from 1997 to 2005. He recalls his military service, downward spiral and connecting with Grunt Style as this month’s guest on The American Legion’s Be the One podcast. Through this series, The American Legion aims to continue to raise awareness about its mission to reduce the rate of veteran suicide through Be the One.

Jensen, who was deployed in 2004 to the Triangle of Death in Iraq, went on more than 200 combat patrols. Afterward, life as a civilian was challenging.

“There was a period of time when I was wandering in the dark,” he said, noting he returned home to an infant son. “For the last year, I was being trained to destroy life. Now, I have a 1-year-old child in my hands that is mine that I am responsible for.”

Jensen had trouble coping, diving into drugs and alcohol, and seeing his marriage come to an end. He also contemplated suicide.

But he rebounded, earned a degree, created seven comic books and remarried. With his life back on track, he started working for Grunt Style, a lifestyle brand whose mission is to bring patriotic apparel to every home in America.

Jensen has worked his way up in the organization, and is now Grunt Style’s chief brand officer and president of its foundation.

“The beauty of what The American Legion brings to this conversation is this ability to bring like-minded individuals to one space to share moments where we have conversations with others,” he said.

This episode is the sixth in the Be the One series with such conversations. The others are:

Part one: Marine Corps veteran Waco Hoover, who oversees the Be the One strategy, talks about its next phase. “We’re doing an extensive amount of research and also looking for suggestions from our community about who we should be aligned with,” he said. “We have to have a conversation about this issue, this topic.”

Part two: Air Force veteran Dr. Regan Stiegmann discusses how lifestyle medicine can play a role in the reduction of veterans who die by suicide.

Part three: Dr. Ruth Moore is a survivor of suicide, which she attempted after leaving the Navy in 1987 following Military Sexual Trauma assaults. After earning her Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine, she now helps veterans and others dealing with trauma and related issues.

Part four: Former Army Apache helicopter pilot Adam Marr, a member of American Legion Post 12 in Dothan, Ala., shares how he has helped organize, operationalize and advocate for innovative solutions to the veteran mental health and suicide crisis since 2015.

Part five: Former Navy SEAL Marcus Capone found relief in psychedelics for his post-service transition issues after a “downward spiral” of seven years. Now, Marcus and his wife, Amber, are helping other veterans facing similar struggles.

The next Be the One episode will drop March 1. All episodes are available in both audio and video formats here as well as on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel