“I returned from Afghanistan in 2011 a changed person,” said Steve Taylor, a retired U.S. Marine Corps major. “I didn’t know it, but my family and friends saw right away that I was different. Any hint from them that I had a problem was met with a barrage of four-letter words, so they stepped lightly around me. Soon, I saw that everyone avoided me. They had changed — not me, them. I couldn’t afford to accept a problem that could potentially ruin my unblemished career in the Marines.”
Since 2000, more than 400,000 members of the armed forces have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI), many due to combat injury. Many more are afflicted with these injuries but have not been diagnosed. TBI can have long-term and sometimes severe effects, impacting sufferers’ ability to work, manage basic living tasks, and interact with others — even their own families. They can impair one’s ability to remain in the armed forces or work a civilian job. They can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress, and to even more tragic consequences.
For more than 10 years, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) has led the fight against these invisible wounds of war, by building world class advanced treatment centers, providing the best TBI care, and enabling our heroes in uniform to continue to serve on active duty and enjoy productive lives.
This effort began in 2010 when IFHF built the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. This $60 million center is now the Department of Defense’s premier facility for researching, diagnosing, and treating TBI.
NICoE was designed around an interdisciplinary model of care specifically developed for treating TBI among military personnel. Clinicians from all specialties related to these injuries, such as neurology, psychology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nutrition, work together to evaluate patients, develop treatment plans and provide care.
These centers are not available anywhere else. One of the most meaningful statements came from a patient who said, “When I walk into this building, I feel cared for.”
To expand the care provided at NICoE, IFHF is building ten additional facilities called Intrepid Spirit Centers at military bases nationwide, bringing TBI treatment closer to home to reach many more service members. Each Intrepid Spirit Center delivers the same interdisciplinary care developed at NICoE, including integrative medicine, such as music and art therapy, yoga and mindfulness. This revolutionary model of care has proven tremendously effective, with more than 90 percent of patients able to continue their regular service in the armed forces.
Eight Intrepid Spirit Centers have been constructed, with the newest one opening inJune at Eglin Air Force Base. Two more remain to be built.
Intrepid Spirit Centers, at approximately $12 million each, are built entirely with donations from the American public. IFHF continues to seek contributions to build the remaining two centers.
Steve Taylor is only one of the thousands of military heroes who have received treatment at NICoE or the Intrepid Spirit Centers. Many other service members say that treatment saved their families and moved them forward on the road to recovery. We hope you will join us in this urgent campaign.
For more information or to learn how to help, visit www.fallenheroesfund.org.