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The Story of a Wounded Warrior

Written By: Tom Mulhern
Former Marine Corps Artillery Officer

Travis, an Army Ranger who was wounded in combat, left the service with more than just physical injuries to contend with. Although he lived through what would seem like a worst-case scenario to many, surviving a near death combat experience, the greatest challenges of his life would lay ahead of him. He left the hospital fully paralyzed from the waist down and found himself living in a new and unfamiliar existence that would require years of mental, physical and emotional recovery. Through a deep commitment to healing, so he could be present for his wife and young daughter, Travis’s arduous journey eventually led him to psychedelics, a profound understanding of the way mental and physical health interact, and the grace to overcome obstacles that once perpetuated his suffering.

Haunted by past decisions that led him to stay in the Army and the subsequent injuries that left him paralyzed, Travis’s new view of the world was shrouded by self-hatred and blame. The rumination consumed him, overshadowing any sense of hope for a better future. These invisible wounds displayed themselves in many ways, but their most significant impact was that they led him to distance himself from those closest to him. “I used to close off from my wife and daughter, which I now know stemmed from my anger.” Blaming others for his predicament to escape from his own shame, he grappled with a loss of control, withdrawing from loved ones and descending into anger.

After enduring extensive treatment for his mental and physical wounds, Travis was no stranger to medical providers. Similar to most living in the United States, he was confident that western medicine was his best option for achieving some semblance of wellness. His belief was straightforward: one should consult a doctor, follow their prescribed treatment, and expect improvement. Travis grew increasingly disillusioned as he found his mental and physical health continuing to deteriorate, despite adhering to his treatment plans. 

A shift came when Travis eventually turned to alternative therapies, including psilocybin mushrooms. Travis found healing through psychedelics in a very unique way. He was treated in the United States, whereas most veterans still need to travel overseas to receive psychedelic treatment. With federal acceptance of psychedelics progressing slowly, individual states have taken it upon themselves to create legal and safe psychedelic therapy programs. Through a direct referral from a trusted source within his community, Travis was able to undergo psilocybin treatment stateside. 

Before embracing psychedelics, his combat injuries held him hostage in a state of mind that would not allow him to fully access the areas he needed to go in order to heal. This mindset was rooted in anger and blame. “Psilocybin was able to pull out the things I could not reach in my normal state of consciousness.” After the doorways of perception were opened, Travis gained valuable insight into how he is his own best healer. “It allowed me to face the challenges inside, and that was the only way to release them. I can now course correct to address the root causes of my issues and ultimately be a better husband and father.” 

Travis acknowledges the limitations of his former beliefs about healing and describes how his view has changed as he continues to heal “After trying psilocybin I now know my previous view of medicine was not the best path to wellness.” Travis’s post-psilocybin improvements extended to his physical health as well. “My biggest leaps forward in physical health came after improvements in my mental health.” He found that as he had breakthroughs in his mental health, he felt more empowered to care for his physical health. Likewise, making physical strides then helped his mental health even further, creating a positive cycle of change.

Travis’s healing journey transcended personal growth; it reverberated through his family. His daughter emerged as a guiding light, teaching him the importance of the present moment. Through her wonderment of the world, Travis found solace, fostering a deeper connection with himself and his family. “After psychedelics I am now aware of when I begin to go down that old destructive path and this allows me to be more present with my daughter, seeing life through her eyes, which is beautiful.”

Moreover, his daughter’s innate wisdom and boundless love is a continued reminder of the importance of cherishing life’s simple joys and embracing each moment with gratitude. “She sees this beautiful world and I don’t want to ruin that. I want my daughter to want to be around me.” His daughter has been one of his most influential healers, and while psychedelics are not a cure-all, they were a launching pad to his allowing himself to connect with her as deeply as he has. 

To veterans who are struggling with their wellness he says, “If you’ve exhausted conventional treatments without relief, consider exploring psychedelics. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s not just one medicine or one session and you’re healed.” Healing, he emphasizes, demands daily dedication and effort. While the war may be over, life continues, and the path to wholeness requires finding community and embracing love.

“I don’t hate myself anymore, and I have more joy and empathy for myself and my past actions. I forgive those who have hurt me and forgive myself for those I hurt. I can finally feel love.”