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Mental Health Advocate Spotlight: PJ Cowan’s Passion For Mental Health Awareness Among Veterans

By Tammy Reese | September 15, 2023 | 4:50 PM ET



In recent years, awareness surrounding mental health issues has grown significantly, bringing attention to the struggles faced by various communities, including veterans. PJ Cowan, an Army veteran, has emerged as a passionate advocate for mental health awareness among veterans and society as a whole. Through his personal experiences and his commitment to sharing difficult stories on his podcast titled “Raw and Real Vet Talk”, Cowan sheds light on the challenges veterans face and emphasizes the importance of speaking up and seeking help. This article explores Cowan’s journey and the impact he has made in raising awareness about mental health issues.


September is National Suicide Prevention Month. How has your experience in the military shaped your understanding of mental health?


Coming out of the Military and getting back into civilian life isn’t easy at all because no one understands what you have just witnessed or been through unless you are a part of that special fight “club”.


I was dealing with a lot when I came back into the “world” and having to understand all the emotions and things I was feeling was a learning curve. 38% of Veterans (if not more at this point) have a code on their medical records when it comes to Mental Disorders. Whether it be Depression, Alcohol Misuse, Anxiety, or PTSD. (That’s just the percentage of vets that accurately communicate it) Understanding that they are not all the same, but that some of us suffer with more than one of these and figuring out how to take care of ourselves, and finding what works for each of us individually is something that takes time. For me personally, it has taught me that we are all fighting battles that people have no idea about. I hear all the time from people “Oh you are so friendly”, “you are so positive”, “you are so fun to be around”, “you are always smiling”, and so on, but the truth of the matter is there are so many days where I have just learned to mask it because so few would understand.


Can you share some ways in which you have personally dealt with mental health challenges and how it has influenced your approach to helping others?


I’ve always been an active person, so fitness has helped me through some of the hardest and darkest days. Sure, alcohol has helped as well, but that is a quick fix at the moment and not a solution.


Suffering from PTSD from the Military and from a terrible divorce as well, on top of that there are days when depression and anxiety kick in, and I find lifting weights and just being in the gym are my therapy. Even though the last few months I’ve been slacking lol.

There are so many others out there suffering from different mental health issues and don’t realize that there are ways to get through the hard times. I enjoy helping others especially when it comes to fitness, as I find I can relate to their journeys with lifestyle change and what they are going through when it comes to dealing with certain struggles.



What endeavors are you currently involved with, particularly in health and fitness?

I’m happy to announce I am relaunching my online training, nutrition coaching and personal/corporate meal prep through my company Soulja Fit Lifestyle. We aren’t fully updated but you can head on over to Instagram @souljafit_lifestyle and shoot me a message there if you are interested in learning about programs and pricing that are coming soon. I had to hold off on it for a bit as I was making some personal changes in my life, but I am ready to goooo now!


We love that your podcast has created a supportive and inclusive environment for individuals. What can we be on the lookout for in upcoming episodes?


We are going to have more conversations around Men and Mental Health as it is such an important topic. Especially black men and mental health, fathers and mental health, and just the fact in general so many men are afraid to speak up or show their emotions. These topics have been on my spirit for a very long time and it’s so important that not only my story (and do I ever have a story lol) but others' stories are told the right way.


Considering your personal journey, what steps have you taken to achieve your vision and purpose?


My personal journey involves many different aspects of my life. The Military, and my Divorce are probably the two things that have helped me realize what I need to do for myself moving forward. Neither has been an easy journey, truthfully at the end of the day they both still play a part in my everyday life, some days are easier than others, and some days navigating change makes me want to run to the bar and have a drink if I’m being completely honest. However, they both have taught me about strength and mindset, they have challenged me in ways I never knew I could be challenged, but they are the reason I enjoy helping people. I want others to realize that when the going gets tough, if you want better for yourself, you can have it no matter how hard and unattainable it may seem.


My podcast Raw and Real Vet Talk is about the hard to have conversations and topics that people are too scared to have, but I am an open book, and I want to share my stories and other people to show listeners they are not alone. If I help one person, then that is a difference.


As mentioned earlier, I am excited to bring back Soulja Fit Lifestyle, fitness is another way of releasing stress, anger, or any emotion you are unsure of, and I look forward to helping people live that healthier life.


What else would you like our readers to know about you?


I am getting set and working towards telling my story of the Military and my Divorce, it has been a long time coming and I truly hope that it helps others especially men when it comes to doing what is best for them.


If you aren’t already doing so, follow my @raw_and_real_vettalk page and get ready to learn more not only about myself but others.


Stay tuned…I am just getting started!! Let’s Get it!!!


Our Final Thoughts:

PJ Cowan’s unwavering dedication to mental health awareness among veterans and society as a whole is truly inspiring. Through his own experiences, he has brought attention to the prevalence of mental health issues among veterans and shattered stereotypes surrounding men’s mental health.


By utilizing his podcast as a platform for open conversations, Cowan has created a sense of community and support for those in need. He has provided a safe space for individuals to share their stories, struggles, and triumphs, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding.


As we reflect on Cowan’s journey and the impact he has made, it is clear that his work has sparked vital conversations and paved the way for greater understanding and compassion towards mental health. He has shown us that it’s okay to talk about our struggles and seek help, regardless of our background or gender.


PJ Cowan’s passion for mental health advocacy has not only made a difference in the lives of veterans but has also had a ripple effect on society as a whole. His efforts have encouraged others to step forward, share their own experiences, and seek the support they need.

In a world where mental health is still stigmatized, PJ Cowan’s unwavering commitment to raising awareness and promoting open dialogue is a beacon of hope. His work serves as a reminder that we all have a role to play in supporting one another’s mental well-being.

Follow online: @cowanpj_


 

Owner of Visionary Minds Public Relations and Media, Tammy Reese is an award-winning writer and journalist best known for landing major interviews with Angela Bassett, Sharon Stone, Sigourney Weaver, Laurence Fishburne, Geena Davis, Billy Porter, Morris Chestnut, Nelly, Mona Scott Young, Giancarlo Esposito, Luke Evans, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Jennifer Connelly, Joseph Sikora, Meagan Good, Leon, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Phylicia Rashad, Omar Epps, Courtney Kemp, Vivica A Fox, Ryan Coogler, and so many more. She is a proud member of ForbesBLK as well as New York Women in Film and Television.




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