• Military Spouse Speaks Up for Her Husband
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Feb. 21, 2017
    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.Visit Stories on the A Head for the Future website to hear more compelling stories of recovery and hope from other service members and veterans. Have a story to share with our team? Submit your story by email today.
  • From Car Accident to Beauty Pageant: Discover Tina’s Story
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Feb. 21, 2017
    Air Force veteran Tina Garcia woke up in a daze after her car was rear-ended in 2002. When she was rushed to the hospital, she was told not to move and that her neck was probably broken. Garcia was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Recovery was tough but eventually led her down a surprising path.“I had to relearn how to read and write. The worst part was recalling my own family. I would lose words, and I would get angry. I’m a fighter, but I really could not just soldier my way through,” Garcia said. Garcia connected with Robin Wininger, a regional education coordinator for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Wininger helped Garcia share her story and connect with other veterans for support.“Robin helped me and other veterans realize that one size does not fit all with a TBI,” Garcia said. “It’s a growth process, and it’s about recovery.”With the encouragement of Wininger, Garcia found the courage to share her story with a larger audience — on stage. Tina signed up for the ​Miss Colorado Senior America pageant. It was her first pageant ever, yet Garcia wasn’t in the pageant to win. She was there to show other military families and veterans that recovery from TBI is possible. Garcia gave a moving speech about recovering from concussions and TBI.“We have a duty to recover, we have a mission of service above ourselves and we can never quit,” she said.  Garcia’s inspiring speech helped her place second runner-up. Wininger — a supporter throughout Garcia’s TBI journey — cheered from the audience the entire evening.To watch videos of TBI recovery and hope, visit the Stories page.
  • Veteran Copes With TBI Through Adaptive Sports and Family Support
    Posted by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center on Feb. 21, 2017
    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.