Building resilience, developing leadership and preventing suicide

Jason Redman has mastered the “art of getting through tough times.”

A retired Navy SEAL, Redman talks about resilience, leadership and more 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.

Redman grew up in a military family. His grandfather served as a World War II bomber pilot, his father was an airborne instructor for the Army, his sister is in the Air Force and his brother is a Marine.

After serving his first 11 years as an enlisted Navy SEAL, Redman then began commissioning through the Seaman to Admiral program. After 10 years as an officer, he was medically retired. He served in Central and South America doing counter-drug operations pre-9/11, and afterward he was deployed to Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was in Fallujah, where Redman was injured while on SEAL Team 10 in 2007. “It was a very messy and dangerous time to be in Iraq.” 

Redman was among a half-dozen members of his team who were caught in a cross-fire. He was shot eight times, including a round that broke his nose, shattered his cheekbone and knocked him out before the team leader summoned a gunship for assistance. “I owe my life to the gunship,” Redman said. “I owe my life to my teammates. I owe my life to the amazing military medical professionals in Baghdad who saved me.” 

During his recovery, he focused on resilience, a trait that he espouses today. He has conducted hundreds of coaching sessions on leadership and resilience for a variety of companies, individuals and sports teams.   

“What I am good at is teaching, and reminding people, that leadership — at the end of the day — comes back to the individual. If you want to be a great CEO or you want to be a great manager, if you want to be a great engineer, if you want to be a great family dad or mom, it comes back to how you lead yourself,” he notes. “And then how you apply that to building teams and to goal setting.” 

During the inaugural Be the One Symposium at The American Legion’s national convention last year, Redman shared his story and talked about how resilience plays a role in the effort to reduce the number of veterans who die by suicide. He revisited the topic during the podcast. 

“I used to think that purpose was the answer to the suicide problem we are having,” he says. “But as I have lost friends, including my best friend to suicide, I began to realize there are two components to this. There is a psychological component and there is a physiological component.” 

The psychological component is related to the military’s tough mindset.  

He encouraged other veterans to find what works for them to improve their mental wellness, and to not give up if the first attempt does not work. “It may take four or five modalities to find the one that works for you,” Redman says. “You owe it to yourself to try as many programs that are out there until you find the one that works for you.” 

When it comes to the physiological part, he cites the increase in traumatic brain injuries such as concussions that are often found in the brains of those lost to suicide. 

“Unfortunately for that, there is not an answer — yet,” says Redman, who is on the board of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. “It is one of our missions to try and fund research to study brains and come up with ways to diagnose, prevent and treat these debilitating diseases.” 

This episode is the eighth in the Be the One series. The others:

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.

Part six: Marine Corps veteran Tim Jensen recalls his military service, downward spiral and connecting with Grunt Style that led him on a path to healing.

Part seven: Marine Corps veteran Juliana Mercer discusses her work to support veterans, using psychedelic therapies for PTSD symptoms and advocacy for MDMA-assisted therapy.

There are more than 230 Tango Alpha Lima episodes for veterans, servicemembers and others.

The next Be the One episode will drop May 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