At the age of 22 David Rogers became the youngest Navy SEAL to ever be accepted into the elite group commonly (but mistakenly) known as Seal Team 6. He first experienced combat in Somalia in the early 1990s. He later gained more combat experience in Afghanistan. He suffered from several combat related traumatic brain injuries that, as is the norm, went undiagnosed for years.
But while his combat wounds were invisible, his symptoms were not. "I was spirally out of control and I left of path of destruction in my wake."
He turned for help to the local VA hospital for help. They provided a him with a series of counseling appointments and a robust cocktail of medications, however, like most combat veterans with combat-related traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder, he did not get better.
He shared with me that he finally reached rock bottom. "I could not tolerate my failing mental abilities and decided that the world would be a better place with me. I planned to take my own life."
As he was edging closer to the brink, he was fortuitously introduced to a wealthy philanthropist who had established a Hyperbaric Medicine Clinic in David's home town of Fargo, North Dakota, with a mandate to provide HBOT to combat veterans with invisible wounds and to children, teenagers, and adults who had suffered symptomatic concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries.
The clinic is directed by Dr. Daphne Denham, MD, who is rapidly becoming one of the leading experts in the field in the use of hyperbaric medicine to treat acute mild traumatic brain injuries. Daphne also serves as member of Hyperbaric Medicine International's Council on Accreditation and will present original research on HBOT and acute concussion at our HBOT 2019 Hyperbaric Medicine Symposium.
David went through a course of HBOT and the treatment changed his life. "It is best explained as a fog being lifted," he told me. His choice of words is remarkable because it is the exact phrase many other combat veterans have used to describe their experience with HBOT.
"My time in service took something from me. I did not have visible wounds but there was something wrong," he shared. "HBOT got me back to a more normal brain function that has allowed me to reestablish my purpose in life. I can see hope and feel joy. I can read and understand complex ideas. I am not on any psychotropic medications for the first time in 15 years."
Empowered by the healing he has experienced David began the Healing Vets Initiative with the goal of raising funds to provide HBOT to other combat veterans suffering from invisible wounds.
"Our purpose is to serve others. That's exactly what I intend to do."
Healing Vets Initiative is being featured as one of the charities for North Dakota's "Giving Hearts Day" on February 14th. You can contribute to David's effort here.