Overcoming combat and mental wounds  

Army veteran and Pat Tillman Foundation scholar Bryan Adams recalls his recovery from being wounded in combat and subsequent PTSD on this week’s episode of The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast, co-hosted by Ashley Gutermuth and Stacy Pearsall.

Adams, who served from September 2002 to 2005 in the 1st Infantry Division, was deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 in February 2004. He spent a year deployed to Tikrit, Iraq, where he conducted hundreds of sniper operations in and around the city.

Everything changed in October 2004.

While leaving an observation post, his team of three was ambushed. He was shot twice, one bullet went through his leg passing between the tibia and fibula, and another grazed his hand. After recovery, he returned to conducting sniper operations before enduring a tough transition back to the civilian world.

“I felt behind, I felt no one could understand what I just experienced, even my own family,” he says, recalling that his friends were all graduating college when he transitioned out of the military. “I tried to not even tell them details, like things that happened, or what I was experiencing.”

Adams, who received a Purple Heart, learned his physical injury had led to the PTSD he was experiencing. He received help at a VA facility.

“It gave me a set of tools and education, which was the most important part,” he said.  “It was the missing piece. I was not dealing with it well. I was drinking. I was going out. I didn’t have any clue of how something like that could affect you in such a negative way.”

After starting school out of state, Adams moved back to New Jersey where he enrolled at Rutgers University. He is the first Tillman scholar at Rutgers and in New Jersey. The highly prestigious scholarship honors the life, achievements and death of the late Army Ranger and former professional football player.
At Rutgers, Adams was among those who created the first student group for post 9/11 veterans and he successfully advocated for the establishment of the college’s veterans support services programs. The program was ranked second in the nation overall for student veterans by Military Times.

“We do a lot of stuff with the Legion in the state and are open to anything that will help veterans,” he said.

Additionally, Gutermuth and Pearsall also:

• Discuss an American Legion Family power couple ahead of Valentine’s Day this week.

• Tackle a question in “Troll Patrol.” Pearsall has a suggestion for an active 78-year-old Vietnam veteran who isn’t interested in swapping old war stories.

• Reveal a fun fact about what animal is 30 times more likely to be struck by lightning than humans.

• Chat about a veteran’s path to voiceovers in Hollywood.

Check out this week’s episode, which is among more than 220 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.