There are so many reason why I do what I do at The Arms Forces organization. Every single reason has a face behind it. The face that I want to share with you today is one that inspires me to keep up the battle to educate and advocate for those with the invisible wounds of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. Today, I share with you, Eric Hall and his parents Kevin and Becky Hall. Eric, representing all of those who have lost their lives at home on American soil due to their invisible war wounds, will be honored at The Arms Forces’ Dancing With The Military Stars with a memorable tribute dance. His mother Becky will be part of the dance to honor her son as well as the others. This story is about loss, but when you read about the life of Eric Hall, I hope you will also be inspired to join in the cause to help make a difference in the lives of others so that stories of hope and joy can be written, not those of tears and loss. Invisble wounds don’t have to lead to death and despair. The path may be crooked and it may be difficult, but it is a path that with the right navigation, can lead to restoration! I am asking YOU to assist us in providing that path to restoration for our invisbly wounded veterans and their families. Becky wrote the following letter and I know it will inspire you as much as it does me every time I read it. Thank you Kevin and Becky for your son Eric and for all of the great sacrifices your family has made for our country. Every loss whether on the battlefield or on home turf is a tragic loss!
Becky’s Letter about her son…..
My name is Becky Hall. I am the mother of Cpl Eric Hall USMC, deceased and the President of the Eric Hall Memorial Foundation. The foundation was established after the death of my son in 2008. My son suffered a devastating wound during an IED explosion while on a foot patrol in Fallujah, Iraq in 2005. While the military doctors were able to heal his visible wounds, the wounds that would haunt the next 2 ½ years of his life and eventually lead to his death were the invisible wounds of war. Our story is not unlike many other families. At the time our son was injured, service members were sent home from the hospital for 6 months of R &R. And like many others, Eric’s Father and I were the only family support he had. The doctors gave us a list of things to watch for that would indicate that Eric was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and said follow up at the local VA until he returned to Bethesda to his military doctors for follow-up. Eric came home with every symptom on the list. They never told us how to deal with his pain issues and how to help him come off of an obscene amount of drugs. The doctors had done multiple CAT scans of Eric’s brain to rule out a Traumatic Brain Injury but they did not tell us that only a very sophisticated MRI would be able to show the small tears at the synaptic level in the brain. It took months and an unfortunate incident with a Major during one of many trips to the hospital for surgery to finally get the Psychiatrist to diagnose PTSD. Eric spent almost 6-months at home with only a limited amount of contact from the military and no support system making him feel disconnected and no longer a part of the Corp, the very thing that made him proud.
Time has made me realize that not only did Eric suffer from PTSD; he also had an undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury. The day he told me he did not remember his childhood, his inability to remember things, to remain focused on a task, and follow through with appointments were all typical symptoms of TBI. Being undiagnosed, the medications that he received were at times contraindicated for TBI making his behavior erratic and unpredictable one minute and my son the next minute.
Eric had no one reach out to him and stay focused on him to get him through what he was dealing with. Being a parent, he would only allow his Dad and me a limited amount of insight into his inner conflict. This was his attempt to protect us from the realities of war but also there was an inner conflict with the morality of what had to be done to stay alive. There was no one to talk with to help him make sense of his feelings and to point him to the resources that could help him. I watched my son suffer a bigger tragedy than his physical wounds; they were the invisible wounds of war.
Ms. Hays’ concept of reaching out directly to our veterans or active duty military personal who are in need, is the very thing that would have saved Eric from his tragic death. Unfortunately, when a person suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury, they can no longer make the clear decisions needed to receive the help they desperately need. They need someone to advocate on their behalf. To get them to appointment and to go with them so they do not become confused and not realize what their rights are and what kind of care they are entitled to as well as what benefits they are entitled.
This type of program has the potential to be nationwide and reach our suffering and troubled veterans and service members at a grass roots level. The saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child”, I believe it takes every American reaching out at a grassroots level to “save” our veterans and Wounded Warriors from a lifetime of suffering.