Season 4 Episode 148: Removing the Mental Health Treatment Stigma with Major General Gregg Martin

On this episode of the Lessons Learned for Vets podcast, we host Major General Gregg Martin. During his 36-year career, MG Martin commanded the Corps of Engineers Northwest Division and served as Commandant of the Army Engineer School, President of the National Defense University and Special Assistant to the Chief of Engineers. He is also the author of Bipolar General: My Forever War with Mental Illness.


By 2014, MG Martin had been unknowingly living with bipolar disorder. After several anonymous reports of his behavior, General Dempsey ordered a series of assessments and ultimately relieved Martin of duty. When Martin reported to Walter Reed, he was diagnosed with bipolarism. In 2015, Martin medically retired with no continuity of care plan. Today, the military is not allowing that same scenario to happen for service members being medically retired with mental health issues. The military is making an intentional effort to normalize the conversation regarding mental health and providing education through workshops, training and forums. The military is looking for ways to accommodate and keep service members in the force.


After retiring from the military, MG Martin fell into such deep depression that he was checked into an inpatient VA psych ward. After two weeks of intensive care provided by a multidisciplinary team, Martin spent the following four weeks living in a dorm inside of the hospital. Once he began taking a new prescription of Lithium, his symptoms subsided, and he began to regain control of his life. In addition to relocating to Florida, Martin reconnected with his family and maintains regular therapy sessions and daily medication. He prioritizes a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and sleep.


MG Martin anchors his life using the five P’s – Purpose, People, Place, Perseverance, Presence. For Martin, his new purpose is destigmatizing mental issues and promoting recovery. He surrounds himself with positive and energetic people and chose to relocate to sunny Florida for its health benefits. He perseveres through his challenges and has the presence of mind to get outside of his own thinking and think objectively about his thought patterns.


As an advocate for mental health awareness, MG Martin has written over 20 articles that have appeared in publications including Psychology Today, Psychiatric Times, Boston Globe and Soldier Magazine. In addition, he has spoken to over a hundred audiences about mental health. His book, Bipolar General, includes medical research that is woven into his own personal journey with bipolarism.

Gregg Martin urges anyone who feels like they may have a mental health condition to seek help immediately. Untreated mental illness can ruin a marriage, career and finances. It can lead to homelessness, addiction, incarceration and even death.

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