Day 9-Eric, veteran and TBI survivor
Remember!! The 31 Day TBI Challenge for CHANGE during March, Brain Injury Awareness Month, consists of just two parts:
1.) Please learn something new about TBI every day. We will be posting an article daily on our Facebook and website pages to make it easy for you to learn. Today’s article is below.
2.) Help facilitate CHANGE by partnering with The Arms Forces by assisting us in continuing our efforts for invisibly wounded veterans by collecting your CHANGE daily and at the end of March donating the money to The Arms Forces. (contact information below) Create a jar and label it:
“The Arms Forces CHANGE for TBI” and put it out where you and others will see it. When someone asks you what it is all about, share with them a bit about what you have learned about TBI. Share stories of the people you will learn about through our posts on Facebook and how their lives have been forever changed by their injuries.
If collecting change every day is not your thing then be a part of the CHANGE by making a donation to The Arms Forces through our website www.thearmsforces.org or by mailing a check to the address below.
Day 9-Eric, Veteran and TBI survivor
I met Eric through VISN 11 of the VA. VISN stands for Veteran Integrated Service Network and there are 23 regions/VISNs for the VA in the country. Eric was referred to me at The Arms Forces organization to get assistance in several areas of his life. He was the second referral I received at The Arms Forces from the VA! When we met for the first time, Eric told me the story of how he received his TBI. During his military service, he was working in the States and making a delivery in a truck. Eric tried to apply the brakes in the truck and they didn’t engage completely and he crashed. What he would find out later, is that a pop can rolled under the brake pedal and kept him from being able to apply the brakes. As with most survivors, there was a rehabilitation process and then reintegration back into a community with the challenges that can persist with TBI.
I tell Eric’s story today, because it brings you a different perspective than the two stories earlier this week. Victor had his wife and their marriage has been strengthened, though challenged by his injuries. Chris has his mom who was and is an amazing advocate for Chris. Eric was married when I met him. They were struggling with the heavy burdens that a couple goes through when TBI becomes a unwanted partner in the family home. At the time their daughter was just 18 months old. Eric was given a job working for the branch of the service he was in as a civilian. His immediate supervisor didn’t understand TBI and Eric’s days at work were causing him both physical and emotional stress. He was trying to perform and and do a job to the best of his ability, yet he never felt he could measure up. Headaches were becoming more frequent from the pressure of trying to live like a man who DID NOT have a traumatic brain injury just so he could be accepted.
Eric was seeing a counselor at the Vet Center, a counseling arm of the VA, but his counselor left. I arranged for him to be seen by a volunteer psychologist until a more permanent counselor could be arranged through the VA. They bonded well.
Reading and writing deficits, a common outcome of TBI kept Eric from applying for new jobs and registereing for school. As his Life Navigation Coach, I went with Eric to the One Stop Workforce Development and assisted him with getting services. Eric and I went met another day and went to a local college and applied for school, something Eric wanted to do but kept putting off. Lack of initiative can be an area of concern for survivors.
Eric and his wife began to feel the weight of his injuries more heavily in their marriage. I worked with his wife to educate her on TBI and what Eric had control over and what was his TBI. They were headed for divorce, it just wasn’t going to work according to them. His wife agreed to separate instead, and see how things went. During that time Eric and I continued to meet and it was comforting for him to know that someone understood his TBI; someone GOT HIM!! Because of the separation instead of a divorce, Eric had some time to get his life organized as a possible single father. He got an apartment and I helped arrange for some donation of furniture for him and he got on a schedule for visitation with his beautiful daughter. His life was becoming more stable, though his marriage was falling apart. Eric and his wife did get divorce. And, all though that could be argued as being a failure, Eric, was able to get through this difficult time and establish a life for himself and his daughter.
Because Eric had someone in his life, a Life Navigation Coach who was his confidant, his mentor, his encourager, he was able to take his challenges and turn them into successes. He was empowered to create a life for himself! Those skills will last a lifetime and help this young man as he moves forward to create a future for himself and his daughter.
A few comments that Eric made during an interview with a local newspaper that stand out to me about having his LNC, (Life Navigation Coach) in his life are “She motivated me”, “She really cares about me and has my best interests in mind”. The one that personally spoke to me and touched my heart was when Eric and I met at the college to register. You would think with all that we hear in the media about STIGMA, TBI and military members not wanting to admit they need help, that Eric would not say what he told the 4 members of the staff when we walked up to the counter at the college. He told them he was there to register and put his hand out to me and said “And this is Pam. She is my coach”. He had such pride and acceptance and I still get tears and chills knowing that he wasn’t embarrassed, he was grateful!!!!
Eric is doing well. We still meet on occasion when he needs to have a bit more direction in his life and just have someone listen and talk things over with. Changes are not easy for someone with TBI. And, change is a part of life. At work there is change, at home there is change, it is everywhere. It is so important for a survivor to have someone in their life that is there for them without judgment, that will give direction and someone who understands what it means to be a traumatic brain injury survivor.
Thank you Eric for having me in your life and for working so hard to push through and to continue to reach out when you feel life is taking you sideways. You have added greatly to my life and you will always be in my heart!!!
With open arms,
Founder/President and severe TBI survivor
The Arms Forces
PO Box 981
Maumee, OH 43537