An alternative therapy for treating PTSD

Former Army Ranger Jonathan Wechter shares his journey of healing from trauma as The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast concludes its series of episodes related to PTSD and veteran suicide.

Wechter is a fitness and nutrition coach, bodybuilder, power lifter and marathon runner. After leaving the Army, Wechter worked as a contractor overseas and dedicated himself to studying during his downtime.

“My whole approach was to be able to coach someone on different avenues,” said Wechter, who also does ultra marathons and triathlons. “A lot of people just need accountability. It’s just about motivating them and getting them into consistency.”

Wechter also addresses using psychedelics for mental health wellness.

“I’m not a shaman, this is just from my experience,” he said. “Fitness is very good for your mental health but it is only going to get you so far. A lot of veterans have demons buried down below. And they are battling that, especially those from the GWOT war (Global War on Terrorism). Psychedelics put you on another state of consciousness. They correlate different parts of your brain that aren’t normally correlated together.”

Wechter says that state helps the user ponder and deal with their issues. “They just become a lot more rational and easier to face. I just like to push (the idea that) you have the answers within you. You don’t need psychedelics to do that but it helps with the meditation.”

Psychedelics are among many options. In fact, The American Legion National Executive Committee appointed the TBI-PTSD Committee to look into alternative therapies for treating the ailments in a 2015 resolution.

“What works for me doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you,” Wechter pointed out. “Just because psychedelics worked for me, doesn’t mean they will work for anybody else.”

Earlier episodes in this series included:

• A conversation with Dr. David Rudd, a psychologist with the Army’s 2nd Armored Division during the Gulf War, who has been studying post-traumatic stress disorder for decades. In this episode, he discusses current research, Be the One and more.

• Members from American Legion Post 539 in New Bern, N.C., which demonstrates how it can Be the One in numerous ways, including its annual March for the 22 fundraiser. In this episode, Post 539 Commander Liz Hartman and member Adin Colon talk about how they have grown the annual Veterans Day event.

Last week’s episode welcomed Concussion Legacy Foundation founder and CEO Chris Nowinski and retired Navy Commander Daryl Adamson for a somber look into the relationship between head injuries, PTSD and suicide. The foundation provides a vital link to improving research into PTSD while Adamson is the father of a Marine who died by suicide.

While this week’s episode concludes this month’s series dedicated to Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the podcast will continue to feature guests and news items related to this topic going forward.

Currently, there are more than 140 Tango Alpha Lima episodes all available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on iTunes, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.