4/12/12 – Along Recovery

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The question is not whether PTSD is real and serious. It’s a devastating mental illness. The question is how many veterans have PTSD, and clearly our goal should be to try to address the veterans’ needs and help them deal with their problems and move on in life.  – Chet Edwards 

On New Years 2007 I met a U.S. Army solider named Ryan Soto while vacationing in Rome, Italy with friends. I kept in touch with him throughout his time in Italy, Germany and at war in Afghanistan and he remains one of my best friends to this day. While in Afghanistan he was involved in a very serious accident as a result of an IED explosion(accident isn’t even strong enough of a word for what he experienced but I’m not even sure how to define it in a word.) It left him with a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. At such a young age he was sent back to the States for treatment and to continue his life.

It’s not my place to share more of his story. But I will tell you one thing. I went to visit him down in Texas at the medical base where many of our severly burned and injured soldiers go for treatment and I was forever changed. I think we should all have to witness how many of our soldiers are upon returning from fighting for us. PTSD is a serious condition that deserves serious attention that I don’t feel it is given.

While I was visiting Ryan he was being filmed for the documentary “Along Recovery.” I have pasted information about the film below, which will have its world premiere at the GI Film Festival in Washington DC on May 19. I couldn’t be happier. I hope that everyone gets the chance to see this film and that everyone will take the time to do what they can to help our wounded soldiers after better understanding the tough roads they have ahead of them. We owe it to those that fight for us to fight for them. Love you Ryan, and you know I’m always here for you.

About the Film

Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq are surviving brutal attacks from improvised explosive devices (IEDs), some without as much as a scratch. But the overpressure created in an explosion is producing adverse effects on Soldiers’ brains. A 2008 Department of Defense study revealed that more than 20% of combat Veterans may have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while deployed. TBI can effect several areas of brain function, including cognitive impairment and behavioral distress. Because of the stigma attached to mental health in the military and the acute nature of diagnosis, particularly in a combat environment, 57% of Veterans with a suspected TBI avoid treatment. Beyond a difficult screening process, evidence-based treatments for combat TBI are limited. In the Vietnam War, injuries resulting in a TBI had a fatality rate of over 75%. In Afghanistan and Iraq the fatality rate is less than 25%. A consequence of modern combat’s high rate of survival is that our nation is now tasked with the care of thousands of Veterans with a complex and often invisible injury. 

Along Recovery is an intimate portrait of the signature wound of Afghanistan and Iraq. The film documents the TBI recovery process from the perspective of three Soldiers recently evacuated from combat operations. With unprecedented access inside military treatment facilities, Along Recovery examines the exhaustive regimen of therapy each Soldier must endure. Currently, the film is being shot alongside the Soldiers as they receive treatment at the Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Following months of treatment, the story continues as each Soldier undergoes an extensive medical evaluation that will determine their future–a return to the ranks or reintegration into civilian life.  Preview the film.


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