During a firefight while deployed, a 7.62 round bounced off of Army Sgt. 1st Class Bradley Lee’s helmet. He didn’t think anything of it at the time and continued on as if nothing had happened. After all, Lee thought that his “body was a machine and that it would do anything if you simply feed it.”
When Lee returned home on leave mid-tour, his wife, Jennifer, quickly noticed things weren’t quite right. In the end, she made a difficult choice that set Bradley on a path to recovery. Jennifer remembers Bradley showing signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI), such as memory loss.
“He went down to my mom’s pasture, and he was target practicing. He got really scared,” she said. “He let me know that when he was down there, he realized he didn’t know how he got there or what he was doing.”
Bradley soon began experiencing severe headaches as well, causing Jennifer to have concerns about his deteriorating condition. When Bradley returned to his unit down range in the Middle East, Jennifer decided to email his sergeant major to ask about having her husband checked out. The sergeant major sent Bradley for an assessment at the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where he was screened and diagnosed with a TBI.
“I was actually very grateful that she [Jennifer] loved me enough to take that risk and go directly [to] the sergeant major and let him know that something wasn’t right,” he said.
Since his diagnosis, Bradley has learned techniques for taking care of himself. His focus on recovery took him from having to leave a combat zone to fulfilling his dream of becoming a scout platoon sergeant — and eventually deploying again.
“The Army cannot function if soldiers don’t take care of themselves. If the soldiers keep putting things off, pretty soon this guy’s hurt and that guy’s hurt, and now the organization is degraded too much that they can’t accomplish their mission. So, you need to see the medical professionals and get things fixed,” Bradley said.
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