During a deployment, an improvised explosive device hit the vehicle retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Victor Medina was riding in. He sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that severely impaired some of his physical functions and ability to speak. Medina’s wife, Roxana Delgado, suspended her pursuit of a doctoral degree in health sciences and became his caregiver. As they adjusted to a life neither one of them had imagined, their marriage became a new kind of partnership.
“My wife, at that time, she had to drive me everywhere. And she did everything — even cut my food,” Medina said.
Medina received treatment for his TBI, with his wife as lead advocate. He and Delgado took advantage of the resources available to them, including physical, speech, occupational, and recreational therapy. Together they focused on Medina’s recovery, and after a year and a half of hard work, they saw the rewards from their teamwork. Gradually, their relationship shifted again, as Delgado became less of a caregiver and more of a partner.
Finally, Medina was able to meet one of his primary goals: to recover well enough to help others. He began with his wife.
“One day he said, ‘I notice that your eyes don’t spark the same way they used to,” Delgado recalled. “And I had to confess to him that I was seeing him more as a friend … and Victor said, ‘Oh, no. That is not acceptable. I am going to make you fall in love with me again and you are going to get to love the new me.’ And he did.”
Medina went back to school for a master’s degree and became a certified rehabilitation counselor. Delgado completed her Ph.D. in health sciences. Then Medina and Delgado started the TBI Warrior Foundation to help others with brain injuries find the same opportunities that Medina had. Medina now feels fully independent and has learned to adjust his lifestyle to manage his disabilities. He is a strong inspiration to all who know him as he works to help others recover from injuries like his.
“There’s a secret about service,” Delgado said. “The more we serve, the happier we get. Twenty years from now, we’ll have two sets of memories — before and after the injury — but not necessarily one is going to be worse than the other one. They’re both going to be beautiful. Life is good.”
Medina and Delgado are among many who live with TBI. • According to Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 383,947 service members received a TBI diagnosis from 2000 until the first quarter of 2018. Most of these injuries do not occur in combat; the primary causes include falls, motor vehicle collisions, sports-related incidents and training accidents. DVBIC offers the TBI Recovery Support Program for caregivers to access assistance for themselves and the injured service members they help support.
To learn more about TBI and the A Head for the Future initiative, and to find additional videos and educational resources on preventing brain injury, visit dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture, and follow A Head for the Future on Twitter and Facebook.