‘The recipe for the suicide crisis’

Army veteran Adam Marr has been on the front lines of helping to organize, operationalize and advocate for innovative solutions to the veteran mental health and suicide crisis since 2015. He co-founded Warrior Angels Foundation, a 501(c)3, with his brother in 2015 to help veterans who had sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Marr is 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.

As an Apache helicopter pilot, Marr deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he flew more than 400 combat hours and was awarded the combat action badge. In 2017, Marr co-authored the best-selling book, "Tales from the Blast Factory.” The book shared perspective on the intimate challenges his brother, a Green Beret, faced transitioning out of the Army because of his TBI and PTSD injuries sustained in combat. This book was the inspiration for the Academy Award-qualified documentary film Quiet Explosions: Healing the Brain (2020).

“We’re talking about an elite Special Forces performer who could run through walls, learn foreign languages, a charismatic person who loved his family that ultimately is getting lost on the way home from post to his house, who is forgetting the names of his children,” Marr said of his brother.

His brother was prescribed medications to deal with his TBI, PTSD and related issues. Marr’s observation led him to the conclusion that his brother’s experience was “the recipe for the suicide crisis we’re facing now.”

The family was able to get Marr’s brother into an alternative therapy that helped him avoid being a statistic.
In 2018, Marr confronted his own trauma, describing it as a “constant state of fight or flight.” He knew how to reach out and was able to link up with other nonprofits and try psychedelics that helped him overcome his trauma.

That was the solution for him and sent him on his path.

“What just happened to me and how do I move forward in life? How do I serve people better?”

Now, Marr — a member of American Legion Post 12 in Dothan, Ala., — is director of operations for the Veteran Mental Health Leadership Coalition (VMHLC). The 501(c)19 coalition is led by retired Marine Lt. Gen. Martin R. Steele, along with more than 45 organizations that advocate for increased research and safe, affordable access to psychedelic medicine and assisted therapies for veterans and their family members. In 2023, the VMHLC helped unlock $12 million in state funding across four states for these programs.

This episode is the fourth 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.

There are more than 210 Tango Alpha Lima episodes for veterans, servicemembers and others.

The next Be the One episode will drop Jan. 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