Coming Back “Home”—How I overcame PTSD after serving in Iraq

For those of us who live in the Washington, D.C., area, 9/11 wasn’t just on the TV. When the Pentagon was attacked, the conflict that would be known as the War on Terror began for me. Within a year I signed up for the Army Infantry and was sent to serve my country with the 101st Airborne “AASLT.” One Friday in March of 2003 I found myself in a room with other fresh-faced naïve kids, until the weathered sergeant, who had fought in Afghanistan the year prior, announced to us, “Who wants to go to the sandbox? The next boat’s leaving on Monday.”

I was injured in an attack that harmed me not only physically, but mentally as well. The suicide car-bomb attack on my small compound that left a hole only a few feet deep in the road left a gaping hole in who I was. It was towards the end of my time spent in Iraq, so I didn’t know the event had affected me until long after I returned home. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) several months after returning to the States and was given medications to deal with it, but they made me feel not like myself, so I never took them for long.

Returning to Civilian Life
My civilian life after the military was what it was supposed to be. The “Army Man” was back in town and he was trying to pick up the life he left behind. I started dating a girl who turned me down four years earlier at a party before I joined the military. I got my dream sports car and started working and going to school full-time. I was making a lot of money and living rent-free, thanks to Mom and Dad.

I realized after a couple years that something was missing still. After getting out of the military and trying to be the “perfect citizen” something happened. I snapped and officially recognized that something was wrong with the way I was functioning. I threw away everything I had worked so hard to achieve up to this point and began to withdraw myself from life. I began abusing substances and drinking to try to control my PTSD.

I went back and forth to the Veterans Administration (V.A.) to try to get help, but all they wanted to give me were the mind-numbing medications they prescribed while I was in the army. The kind of medications they would give me would rob me of my creativity and, in essence, of who I was. For example, I stopped playing my guitar, writing poetry, writing standup comedy, and experiencing the simple pleasures of life. This went on for almost three years, with occasional glimmers of hope. During one such glimmer, I was attending community college.

The Road Back: Healing from Within
One day during my drive between the Montgomery County College campuses, I heard an ad on the radio that said: “Capitol Clinical Researchers and Associates are looking for OIF/OEF veterans with PTSD to partake in a research study that looks at the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on PTSD.”

A Fresh Start
The first time I meditated I experienced this relief from the constant anxiety attack my life had become. When I meditated, it stopped. I just felt completely relaxed for the first time in five years. Since I first transcended, I knew my life had picked up again. The new sense of awareness that I had after I started practicing regularly twice a day had me ecstatic! There were a few bumps along the way up, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. With the help of TM as the shovel, I was able to dig myself out of the hole and was able to see sunlight again. I knew at this point I was going to be golden. That is where I am coming from now, a place that is golden, my true self. Maybe that’s why my mom always called me “Tesorito,” which means “little treasure” in Spanish.

I didn’t know I had lost myself in the war because I was used to blocking life out—PTSD made my existence very drab. Once I could see what I was doing and feel how it really affected me, the substance abuse began fading away. I started repairing the relationships I had destroyed and started looking toward the future. Before learning TM, I lived day to day. I never knew what bone-headed idea I might choose, like riding my motorcycle drunk, which could have ended my life.

But now, after doing for TM two and a half years, I’m grateful to have experienced such lows, which give me perspective on what I now call a bad day—oh, and very grateful that I survived all the turmoil.

Rediscovering My True Nature
How can I help you? That is a question that I ask a lot of people. During my destructive phase, I was such a recluse that even if I was out, I might not have stopped to help someone who was on fire. Helping is in my true nature, and that is what I do as often as I can. That is what I enjoy—doing what it takes to help others, no matter what the cost. That’s why I chose the Army Infantry; I was willing to help even if it meant my life.

I do my part trying to spread the word on how the TM program can help heal veterans. I have spoken at several David Lynch Foundation events. Operation Warrior Wellness is a program that is looking to reach out to veterans who could use TM in their lives and get them meditating. I have met veterans who have started meditating because of the talks I’ve given or videos I’ve done. Knowing that I am helping my fellow brothers- and sisters-in-arms is greatly satisfying. Anything I am asked to do I will try if it means someone else gets to benefit. This sort of selflessness is a part of who I am again because I started practicing Transcendental Meditation.


In the video below, David’s mom, Julia George, discusses the dramatic, life-changing transformations that she saw in her son after he learned the TM technique.