Jason Mosel remembers the hardest day of his life. It was the day his friend and fellow Marine, Geoffrey Morris, was blown apart by a rocket-propelled grenade. This memory almost killed him.
Mosel served three tours of duty, two of them in Iraq. After he came home, he thought he was the same person he’d always been. But his wife, his friends, and his family knew better. As time passed, Mosel tried to ignore the fact that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was drinking too much, and all the while his mind was slowly convincing him to do what nearly two dozen soldiers and veterans do every day in the U.S.
And in 2005, Mosel very nearly became part of that grim statistic.
But Mosel’s life began to change in 2013, when he participated in an obstacle course that pushed him physically and mentally.
As a Marine accustomed to adapting to survive, he found a way to fight against his suicidal thoughts: burpees.
He discovered that he could build his own recovery through extreme exercise.
“I did not know this moment would change my life,” Mosel says. “I found something that was missing, a community of people and a sense of accomplishment by pushing myself to a limit that I didn’t think was possible, then going beyond that.”
Mosel attempted to set a new Guinness World Record of 5,000 chest-to-ground burpees in 12 hours, stopping only to eat, hydrate, go to the bathroom, and rest for a minute or two between sets.
But he refused to stop.
He had made a promise to his friend Morris, a promise to fellow soldiers and veterans, a promise to himself.
But why? Mosel said that extreme physical activity saved him. A strong body helped him build a strong mind.
He realized he couldn’t change the past but could control the future. “Slowly I started to put down the bottle and lace up my running shoes,” Mosel said.
“Though it sounds cut and dry, it was anything but that.”
Mosel described the daily battle he endured while fighting off his demons and confronting himself in the mirror. His turning point came through acceptance of his new reality. He emphasizes that this is what drives him to push harder and overcome the inevitable obstacles life throws in his way.