Veteran Copes With TBI Through Adaptive Sports and Family Support

When former Air Force Technical Sgt. Krys Bowman returned home from another deployment, his wife, Lacey, noticed changes. Addressing those changes resulted in a new way for Krys to give back and to get involved.

“Parts of him were still there … but his smiles were becoming more and more vacant,” Lacey said remembering his homecoming.  

Krys had experienced symptoms for years — eye twitches, headaches, photo sensitivity and sleep problems — but this time he finally decided to see a doctor. A neurologist diagnosed him with multiple counts of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that were sustained through combat and military training. The diagnosis was a relief to Krys, who knew he had symptoms but didn’t speak up.

“I hid it for too long because I didn’t want to lose everything that I’d worked so hard to obtain,” he said.

During his recovery, Krys joined an adaptive sports program. By 2015, he was participating in the Warrior Games as an athlete and mentor. When a fellow veteran passed away shortly before the competition, he took on the competitor’s events too, doubling the number in his own docket. After Krys finished the last leg of a grueling swim race on behalf of the fallen soldier, onlookers in the crowd rose to their feet.

“People were giving me a standing ovation because they knew I wasn’t the one swimming that day,” he said.

Krys continues to recover with the unfaltering support of his family.

“They watched me come home a little bit different … and they’ve never stepped away from me. They’ve always stood beside me,” he said.

His wife remains his biggest supporter, helping him manage his symptoms and cope with TBI. She says just knowing what he’s going through can help her “remember who he used to be and see who he is now.”

Krys knows things are different — but the good kind of different, for both him and his family.

“My life has just begun in a whole new way,” he said.

To watch videos of TBI recovery and hope, visit the Stories page.