Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gregg F. Martin
Then U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gregg F. Martin, who was serving as president of the National Defense University at the time, speaks during the university's graduation ceremony on Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., June 13, 2013. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – A retired U.S. Army major general shared his mental health story with Soldiers and Army civilians from the U.S. military’s premier Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) command.

Retired Maj. Gen. Gregg F. Martin spoke to 20th CBRNE Command during a leadership development program.

Soldiers and Army civilians from 19 bases in 16 states participated in the virtual meetings.

A U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduate, Martin is a bipolar survivor who earned a PhD and two master’s degrees from MIT while on active duty.

During the leadership development program, Martin described his journey from the highs and lows of an Army career where he climbed the ranks rapidly and performed with distinction as a combat engineer.

He commanded an engineer company and battalion. Martin also commanded the 130th Engineer Brigade in Iraq.

Martin said doctors misdiagnosed his mental health condition six times before correctly diagnosing his condition and getting him on the road to recovery.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gregg F. Martin
A retired Army major general shared his mental health story with Soldiers and Army civilians from the U.S. military’s premier Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) command. Retired Maj. Gen. Gregg F. Martin spoke to 20th CBRNE Command during a leadership development program, Oct. 26. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Many doctors have told me that I was very fortunate that I didn’t die of a heart attack or stroke,” said Martin, adding that his mental health condition almost claimed his life.

“Mental health is as important if not more important than physical health,” said Martin, who currently lives in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Martin said he has found new purpose in his life, which is to normalize the conversation surrounding mental health and stop the stigma.

Martin said that correctly diagnosing and treating mental health is critical to both Soldier health and mission readiness.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dave Silva, the senior enlisted leader of the 20th CBRNE Command, said the presentation will help other leaders to overcome their mental health challenges.

“This is incredibly powerful,” said Silva. “This should be the beginning of a conversation not the end of a conversation. We can’t fix something that we can’t acknowledge.”

Brig. Gen. Daryl O. Hood, the commanding general of 20th CBRNE Command, thanked Martin for sharing his story of resilience and recovery with his command.

“It’s the men and women, the Soldiers and civilians, who make us Army strong,” said Hood. “We can’t thank you enough for taking time to spend an afternoon with us. You have given us hope and helped us.”