PT372 – The Heroic Hearts Project: Veterans and The Impact of Storytelling

November 11, 2022
Featuring: Jesse Gould & Zach Riggle

In this Veteran’s Day episode, Joe checks in with two members of the Heroic Hearts Project: Founder and President, Jesse Gould, and Chief of Operations, Zach Riggle.

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In this Veteran’s Day episode, Joe checks in with two members of the Heroic Hearts Project: Founder and President, Jesse Gould, and Chief of Operations, Zach Riggle.

Heroic Hearts’ mission is to create a healing community that helps veterans suffering from military trauma recover and thrive through helping them gain access to psychedelic treatments, professional coaching, and ongoing peer support – and we’re always happy to have them on the podcast to remind listeners about the extremely important work they do. 

Among other projects, they are currently running several studies: psilocybin for gold star wives (spouses of fallen soldiers), ayahuasca for combat veterans, and ibogaine for special operations veterans through the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School’s Center for Psychedelic Research & Therapy; a study with the University of Georgia on personality change through psychedelics; a gut microbiome study with University of Colorado Boulder; and a psilocybin for head trauma study through Imperial College London. And today, they released the short film, “It’s Time – A Documentary of Veterans and Pro Athletes Seeking Healing Through Psychedelics.”

Gould and Riggle discuss the growth in interest and acceptance in psychedelics they’ve seen over the last few years; the importance of people telling their stories; relative trauma and how people too often wait to seek help; how trauma isn’t always due to a single event; Colorado’s Proposition 122 (which passed!); the need to have standard measurements in psychedelic studies; and how people who go through trauma together can heal together.

Notable Quotes

“At what point do we ask for help? I think, just as a society, we feel like things have to be in full-on crisis before we need to seek some sort of assistance. And we want to put [it] out there that that doesn’t have to be the case – that if you’re able to look at your life and realize that there may be some areas where things could improve and you might need some help in improving them, then don’t be afraid to reach out, because we’re not going to turn you away.” -Zach

“In the standard medical world, the physicians [or] the psychologists are looking at that qualifying incident and trying to heal that, trying to address that. And there’s some things that are pretty effective …but they’re working largely on that single incident, and ignoring all the other things that may have happened over time. And that’s where psychedelics can be so beneficial, is that they address that whole issue with a full system reset.” -Zach

“You take a population that largely (due to their illness) has been isolating, pushing everyone away, and just sitting back and looking at how amazing everyone else’s life is while theirs continues to deteriorate. Well, we plug them back into a community, bring them in, and help them to heal together. That’s a powerful thing to realize: that communities that were traumatized together; they heal better together.” -Zach


YouTube: “It’s Time – A Documentary of Veterans and Pro Athletes Seeking Healing Through Psychedelics”

Heroic Hearts Project – Canada

Heroic Hearts Project – UK

Psychedelics Today: PTSF77 – Progress and Context, with Jesse Gould of the Heroic Hearts Project

Jesse Gould and Keith Abraham – Heroic Hearts Project: Connecting Veterans to Psychedelic Treatment This Veteran Is Helping Other Soldiers Restore Their Mental Health

University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School: Center for Psychedelic Research & Therapy Heroic Hearts to research psilocybin treatment for brain injury in veterans uBiome Co-Founders Charged With Federal Securities, Health Care Fraud Conspiracies

Psychedelics Today: PT223 – Daniel Carcillo – Life After Sports Colorado Voters Approve Psychedelics Legalization Ballot Initiative


In this Episode

Jesse Gould

Jesse Gould is a pioneer in psychedelic therapies. As Founder and President of the Heroic Hearts Project, he has spearheaded the research and acceptance of ayahuasca, ibogaine, ketamine, and psilocybin therapy programs for military veterans. Jesse has connected hundreds of veterans to psychedelic treatments, partnered with the world’s leading psychedelic centers, and is researching psychiatric applications with the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Georgia, the University of Texas, Austin Dell Medical School, and Imperial College of London. His mission is to help military veterans struggling with mental trauma and spread awareness of the benefits that psychedelic therapies offer as an alternative treatment to pharmaceuticals. Jesse has spoken globally about the benefits of psychedelics on mental health and has been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Economist, and Forbes and is recognized as one of the most influential voices in psychedelics today.

Heroic Hearts socials: Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Zach Riggle

Zach Riggle

Heroic Hearts Project Chief of Operations  Zach Riggle’s core purpose is to help people find a better way to heal.  After eleven years and four combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine/ Marine Raider, Zach decided it was time to come back home.  He separated from the military in 2012 and attended MIT as a Sloan Fellow for Innovation and Global Leadership. Following graduation, Zach stayed on at MIT as a research assistant in support of a multi-year, DoD-funded project Military Psychological Health Enterprise: Post-Traumatic Stress Innovations (PTSI). Shortly thereafter, Zach entered the private sector where he served as Managing Director of a New York based business intelligence/strategy consulting firm and later as the COO for a technology consultancy based in Seattle. Then, when he could no longer outrun his ailing mental health, his life took a different trajectory. Following the successful completion of multiple inpatient treatment programs for PTSD and substance use disorder (both within and outside of the VA system) and countless hours of group therapy and counseling, something inside of Zach remained broken. Then one day, a fortunate encounter with a fellow Marine Raider ended with the words “plant medicine, mannnn” and put Zach on a trail that eventually led to Heroic Hearts Project.  He attended an HHP-sponsored Ayahuasca retreat in Peru in January 2020 and was blessed with the healing he had unsuccessfully sought for years within the Veterans Healthcare System. Zach now dedicates his time to helping others find their healing, either through his role as Chief Operating Officer for Heroic Hearts Project or via his private coaching practice where he specializes in helping clients access post traumatic growth.

Socials: Instagram / Twitter / Linkedin