When all else failed, music saved his life.
In the spring of 2008, Jason Moon decided life was no longer worth living. He grabbed a handful of pills and washed them down with swigs of whiskey. His world had been falling apart since 2004 when he returned from his Army deployment in Iraq.
During one of his many flashbacks, he took a swing at a police officer and woke up in a county mental health lockdown unit. Psychologists at the Veterans Administration diagnosed him with adjustment disorder, depression, and insomnia and prescribed him a variety of different medications—38 in total—over several years.
Depressed, unable to sleep for days on end, and drinking heavily, Moon wanted to end his life.
“I thought I was crazy,” says Moon. “I was home and failing at living a normal life.” He was disgusted with himself for surviving the war only to become a “drunk.”
Moon’s suicide attempt failed. When he woke up in a VA hospital, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For Moon, the diagnosis changed his life. He went on a quest to understand PTSD and its effect on the brain. He enrolled in classes, attended retreats, and tried a variety of cognitive therapies. Although all of these were helpful, it was in music that he found true healing. He had been writing and performing music since he was 15 but had not written a song since returning from Iraq. In 2010, he wrote Trying to Find My Way Home, a song that documented the struggles he faced after returning from war. In 2011, he released a 14-song CD of the same name.
After releasing his CD, Moon founded Warrior Songs, Inc., a nonprofit that honors veterans by turning their stories into songs. In 2016, they released Warrior Songs Volume 1, a 14-song CD that tells true stories of war, struggle, and redemption. “We are helping people tell their stories,” says Moon.
Since 2010, Moon has traveled more than 400,000 miles and performed more than 320 shows for veterans and civilians. In addition to performing, Moon shares his personal experience with PTSD. He says a multitude of veterans have told him they decided not to kill themselves after listening to his music. More than 100 people have told him his music helped save the life of someone they loved.
“I had a Vietnam veteran come up to me after a show and say, ‘You just saved my life today,'” says Moon. The man went on to say that Moon’s music made him realize that someone else could understand his pain. He also said he decided not to follow through with his plan to hang himself in his garage.
Many veterans tell Moon he articulates what they are feeling but are unable to put into words. He also says his music helps civilians get a glimpse into what veterans are experiencing. “I see the lights going on for them,” he says. “Helping other vets helps me,” he says. He continues to battle his PTSD and has tried Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy.
“I don’t believe it (PTSD) ever fully goes away. I’m always working on it.” For Moon, the battle continues. And so does his music.