I am a former Clinic Director for an out-patient psychiatric clinic where veterans were seen for over four years to evaluations for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain disorder (TBI) for potential treatment from the Veterans Administration (VA). The clinic is now closed, but the psychiatrist (my husband) is doing these evaluations and diagnoses full time for the VA throughout the United States.
What was most heartbreaking was the despair exhibited through the demeanor of the veterans and their family members who attended the office visits at the clinic I managed and where my husband was the primary psychiatrist. Their lives have been severely and adversely affected through the constant, disabling symptoms of their PTSD and TBIs.
Many were unable to hold a job or maintain personal relationships. Even worse, there was little to nothing available to them as far as treatment. Many would invariably ask what could be done for them – imploring and scared eyes searching for some scintilla of hope from my husband or from me. They had already been fighting the VA’s system and shared they were not feeling positive about anything offered there. They did not feel as if they were being taken seriously by the VA or that the VA cared. It was always the same story, and it never got easier to hear, especially because each individual who walked through the clinic door had a story to tell just as bad if not worse than the last one.
Then my husband received his own mild traumatic brain injury. Instead of focusing on the symptoms, he started doing research on ways to actually heal the brain itself, and he found hyperbaric treatment. The more research he found, the more enthused he became. He began calling other practitioners, having discussions with colleagues, and soon went to visit a facility where the treatment was being done. He chose to go to Hailey, Idaho, because there was so much focus on work with veterans, which is where his work is focused, as well. He tried it himself, of course, and the results were astounding. For the first time, he felt he had found something that truly made a difference – he was clear-headed, he could focus more, his mood was better, and he had increased energy.
The research is there, and hyperbaric treatment works. Veterans are committing suicide out of despair because they think they have no options, but they do. We can give them that option, the opportunity for treatment that will heal their brain and help them toward a path of recovery. These men and women – these human beings – are worth it, and we owe it to them.
This means the difference between someone fumbling through life or actually living their life and being a contributing member of society – a mother or father, a sister or brother, a son or daughter. I have seen the veterans firsthand in need of this treatment, and I have seen with my own eyes that it works. It’s time to step up and honor our veterans as they honored our nation and her citizens with their brave service.