Today we welcome a guest blogger to Stop Soldier Suicide, Jerry Yellin. He talks about his heroic military history, struggle with PTSD before anyone knew what it was, and how TM (Transcendental Meditation) helped him heal. Jerry is currently serving as the Co-Founder of Operation Warrior Wellness. Want more information on TM for Veterans and Soldiers? Find a local center near you.
My name is Jerry Yellin and I was a P-51 pilot who saw combat over Japan in World War II. I was 17 on the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Two months later, on February 15, 1942, my 18thbirthday, I enlisted in the Army Air Corp. On August 20, 1943 at the age of 19 I graduated from Luke Field in Phoenix, Arizona as a fighter pilot.
I was assigned to the 78th Fighter Squadron, 7th Air Force in Hawaii and arrived there in October, 1943 for further training; first in P-40’s then P-47’ and finally in P-51’s. On March 7, 1945 our squadron landed on Iwo Jima, an 8 square mile island 675 from Japan. We strafed the Japanese defenders helping the Marines capture the island. 21,000 Japanese were killed and nearly 6900 Marines. I can still see the sights, hear the sounds and smell the smells of that battle.
On April 7, 1945 I was one of 16 pilots from the 78th who flew the very first Very Long Range mission escorting B-29’s as they bombed Tokyo. I flew with 16 of my squadron mates from the 78th were killed, 11 in combat and 5 in accidents. I flew a total of 19 VLR missions before the war ended on August 14, 1945. I spent a total of 24 months overseas before I was discharged in December, 1945.
I had been trained to kill and I did that. I claimed 4 Japanese planes, shot at ships at anchor and at sea, trains, industrial plants and anything that moved on the ground. The war was exciting and purposeful; actually fulfilling my mission to kill my enemy gave me great pleasure. The camaraderie and purity of purpose as a member of the Military was the highlight of my life!
And then it was over. I was a civilian, with little or no purpose in living. I joined the New Jersey Air National Guard and flew P-51’s. There were no enemies in the sky for me to shoot at; my six 50 caliber machine guns were not even loaded. I knew that if I continued flying I would die, either by chance or by choice. I quit the Guard and stopped flying. Suicide was always on my mind! I lived with addictive behavior for 30 years; wandering from job to job, place to place. And then in 1975 I learned Transcendental Meditation and got my life back.
Today we are faced with Military suicides every single day! The cumulative 24 years of war handled by 3 million of our citizens is taking its toll on all Americans. Veterans who have been in combat need tools to overcome what they did and what they saw. Anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs do not work and cause many side effects. Psychiatry needs the co-operation of the patient and Combat Soldiers are not likely to seek out help.
Transcendental Meditation is not only effective, it is also cost effective and learned in only 6-7 hours! The side effects are clearer thinking, lower heart rates, better sleep, and a richer life. I know, it happened to me and to hundreds and hundreds of our current veterans who have learned TM.
Think about this, just 20 minutes of silent time twice a day creates the deep rest and mind body connection that produces lasting health. When you learn TM you learn to hear a sound that you repeat in your mind when you meditate. It is not what you think; it is how you think that creates the benefits of meditation. TM teachers across the Globe teach this non-religious meditation exactly the same way. They are all trained in resident courses that last 6 months. The technique is thousands of years old and was originally taught to warriors to make them better soldiers.