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030. A Three-Tour Army Ranger Turned Psychedelic Activist

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Each journey we take starts pretty much the same way.  We get an idea, then we daydream about how it will go: “If I do this, then I can do that, I just have to do this and this, then I’ll be this, or have that,” we think to ourselves (you can fill in the blanks with your own scenario).  But, of course as quickly as we take the first step toward starting that journey, we find that the road is longer, more nuanced and fraught with the unexpected than we ever could have imagined.  The bulk daydreaming is almost always good for nothing.
For me, this has held true on every significant journey I’ve embarked upon, whether it was moving over seas, joining a band starting a relationship, or starting this show.  I’m even tempted to say it doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we do it. 
But, some experiences impact and define us on such a deep level that they fundamentally change us for good.  Things like war, loss or a deeply meaningful epiphany.  In my case, these experiences are quite slippery.  There are few solid moments I can point to that have shaped the person I am, but then again, I’ve never been to war, lost someone close or had a true, deep seismic shift in consciousness.
Then, there’s my guest, who makes all my little life-lessons seem trivial.  He’s been to war, he’s felt the sting of loss and he’s experienced true, life-altering psychological and philosophical changes. 
In a very brief nutshell, his most important journey started when he signed up for the Army.  He made the cut as a Ranger and served three traumatic tours in Afghanistan.  The things he did and saw changed him forever. 
When he got home, he was diagnosed with PTSD, given antidepressants and sent on his way.  The pills didn’t help. Every day life was still nearly unbearable.  Searching for options, he heard about and attempted to partake in an experimental and controversial MDMA therapy through MAPS, but the waiting list was unbearably long.  He took matters into his own hands and took various psychedelics as a means to treat his symptoms; it worked.  His experiences with those substances were so profound that they reintroduced him to emotions that he hadn’t felt since he’d been home.  He now has the kind of purpose, strength and focus that few of us have.  He’s now working toward degrees in Neuroscience and Psychology in hopes that he can spread the word about the medical viability of these substances through a scientific lens full-time.
There’s so much more to his journey, so be sure to check out the episode. 
To learn more about the effort to help PTSD victims through MDMA assisted therapy, visit MAPS.
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