The Center for the Intrepid
When the war started, known as Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, I wanted to re-enlist, this time as an officer and Registered Nurse. Unfortunately, I was turned down due to my injuries sustained during my first enlistment. But, I was desperate to find a way to help our warriors.
The came in a recruiting phone call where the military was looking for contract RN’s to work Warrior Transition Unit as RN Case Managers. In basic terms, I helped Warriors manage their plan of care, setting up and reminding them of appointments, documenting new medical issues, like signs and symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, new recommendations from the doctors, etc. Just as a civilian RN, my primary job was/is to advocate for my patients. This became and continues to be my main priority for my warriors, and now with the veterans I advocate for in DC, letters to congressional leaders, and here, on Warrior Talk Radio.
The BAD—In my first few weeks of training with active duty RN officer (they were from regular Army, National Guard, or Reservists), I reached the conclusion that the military hadn’t changed in regards to their attitudes towards injured warriors. My first instruction was to NOT document any symptoms, complaints, or anything that could have an increase in military or Veteran’s disability claim. I listened, but I kept my oath to advocate, assess my warriors and complete my documentation as I was trained in nursing school. I was not going to compromise my nursing license for anyone, including the Army. Because I did my due diligence, many warriors received medical diagnosis for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, that would have otherwise been swept under the rug….much like the veterans I work with today, and the same fight I have to continue today in my own claims process.
The UGLY–After a few months, several of us from across the country where required to attend a two week training in San Antonio, TX at the Brooke Army Medical Center. I was excited, anxious to see how the Warriors where receiving care and how they were living, especially after the national fiasco at Walter Reed. But training was the first thing on the agenda. My hopefulness, excitement, and trust in the leadership came to a shocking and crushing downfall, I felt like an arrow was shot right through my heart. As I sat and listened to a long line of speakers, from high ranking non-commissioned officers all the way up to a full Bird Colonel, I tried to hide my tears and I did a good job, but there was nothing in that training that could stop the tears in my heart and gut wrenching feeling that I would get sick at any moment. The worst came as I listened to the full Bird Colonel tell us, “We don’t care what happens to our soldiers once the are out, just get them out!”
During the break, I would approach many of the speakers, including the Colonel and I posed the same question to all of them, “What if it were YOU hurt, burned, lost limbs, or had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Traumatic Brain Injury that would affect YOU for the rest of your life? Would you want someone like you to say, “We don’t care what happens after YOU get out, just get her out!” I angered a lot of high ranking individuals during those days of training. So much so that they would not longer reply to my raised arm, knowing a valid point was coming, and in a smart ass way, made them look like uncaring, unsympathetic Robots ran by some, not all, military leader douche bags!
The Good, no, GREAT–
My heart and hope became somewhat uplifted when we finally got to see the Center of the Intrepid. It is a state of the art rehabilitation facility for burn patients, amputees, and they even enlisted CAREN, Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment that provides reality-based training services.
The history of the Center for the Intrepid:
The GAIT LAB:
There is so much more I would love to show to you….last video, for now…..
There are some more pictures I’ve taken, videos I have collected….I can admit that are worst physically injured warriors received the best there is in medical science and rehabilitation, for this, I am thankful.
On the flip side, deep inside my heart, I know there were warriors who slipped through the system, just because their injuries were not invisible. This where we have our biggest challenge, honor, and duty to serve. Will you join me?