Category Archives: military

Warrior Games 2014

In September Sean spent two weeks in Colorado Springs training with Team Army at the Olympic Training Center before competing in the Warrior Games. He trained in various track and field events and tandem cycling with pilot Greg Miller.

Sean earned a silver medal in tandem cycling, bronze medal in the 100 meter dash, silver in the 200 meter dash, and a gold medal in the 1500 meter run.

10690226_10154617442630104_777524846846471547_n

Sean and Duncan with gold medals from 1500 meter run

Warrior Games September

Sean and Greg Miller tandem racing

10660213_10154617443195104_8340934513519990472_n

Army shotput team

 

Check out these links for additional information, interviews with Sean, and video footage.

US Army Warrior Transition Command

http://www.wtc.army.mil/

https://www.facebook.com/ArmyWTC

US Paralympics–Team USA

http://www.teamusa.org/warriorgames/

Warrior Games

https://www.facebook.com/WarriorGames

2014 Warrior Games–Cycling Competition

https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=FuLefPFkdBc

Competing at the Warrior Games

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoZLGqTWfKE

Warrior Games keep blind vet in touch with Army

http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/2014/09/30/games-keep-blind-vet-touch-army/16465753/

Aberdeen man riding into history

http://www.aberdeennews.com/sports/column-aberdeen-man-riding-into-history/article_793d3b7e-2abb-5f5f-9232-b894181314e7.html

Warrior Games possible in Aberdeen veteran’s future

http://m.aberdeennews.com/news/local/warrior-games-possible-in-aberdeen-veteran-s-future/article_a36ed51a-a459-5a69-8e3c-ace5b47e3777.html?mode=jqm

Local veteran to compete in Warrior Games this fall

http://m.aberdeennews.com/news/local/local-veteran-to-compete-in-warrior-games-this-fall/article_0b08cf47-338c-513c-a734-4faf1f935137.html?mode=jqm

Staff Sgt. Sean Johnson – 2014 Warrior Games

http://www.dvidshub.net/video/363748/staff-sgt-sean-johnson-2014-warrior-games#.VCw52_ldWSo

‘You may be Wounded, Ill or Injured but You’re not Defeated,’ tandem cyclist says at US Army Warrior Trials
http://www.dvidshub.net/news/133430/you-may-wounded-ill-injured-but-youre-not-defeated-tandem-cyclist-says-us-army-warrior-trials#.U-qb4vldWSr

Vision impairment won’t stop wounded veteran at Warrior Games Trials
http://www.dvidshub.net/news/133094/vision-impairment-wont-stop-wounded-veteran-warrior-games-trials#.U-qbbfldWSr


I’m melting!

I’m tired, therefore, this post isn’t up to par.  I’m including it simply to satisfy my compulsive need to tell the complete story in chronological order.

Ohhh! You cursed brat! Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!

Ohhh! You cursed brat! Look what you’ve done! I’m melting! Melting! Oh, what a world! What a world!!

After nearly seven years (long, incredibly frustrating years), Sean officially retired from the US Army Reserve on February 11, 2014. Hallelujah!

A process that consumed our lives for many years…a bittersweet ending for a soldier who dedicated his life to serving his country…a relief for his wife who has grown weary of fighting systems that should be designed to help.

So, while the Oz saga from Ft. Riley has played itself out and the Wicked Witch has met her demise (if you’ve been following our blog, this makes sense, I swear), it was not without getting in a final jab. I was required to become Sean’s legal guardian in order for him to “obtain any and all retirement benefits during his lifetime” due to an incompetency ruling.

Recap:

March 2007- ineligible for medical board due to “unexplained physical symptoms” (undiagnosed PTSD and TBI)

July 2007 – PTSD diagnosed

December 2007 –  TBI screening

March 2008 – TBI diagnosed, medical evaluation board (MEB) initiated

April 2008 to January 2010- nooooooothing……

January 2010 – testified before House Committee on Veterans Affairs regarding “Seamless Transition” between DoD and VA systems

February to May 2010 – multiple appointments

June to November 2010 – multiple complaints to get MEB paperwork completed

2011 – mostly nothing……

<insert intermission>

January 2012 – OOPS, case was terminated in June 2011 (Ft. Riley claimed we missed a deadline that we were not informed of, we were not notified that the case had been terminated)

June 2012 – records sent to Ft. McCoy to start new MEB under IDES

<insert theme from “Jeopardy”>

February 2013 – records arrived in Ft. Carson

March to May 2013 – repeat all examinations, tests, and paperwork from 2010 as it was all expired

June 2013 – MEB NARSUM sent to Physical Evaluation Board (PEB)

December 2013 – PEB rated 100% vision loss due to TBI, and 70% PTSD

January 2014 – notified that due to incompetency statement in NARSUM a legal guardian would need to be appointed, POA was not sufficient for payment/benefit purposes

February 2014 – officially medically retired

Bout damn time.


Western Blind Rehabilitation Center

Sean was accepted into the Comprehensive Neurological Vision Rehabilitation (CNVR) program at the Western Blind RehabCenter (WBRC) in Menlo Park, CA.  On February 21st we flew to California to get him admitted into the program.  Through the VA’s Caregiver Program, I was able to spend the first week and a half at the blind center with Sean to help him adjust and to observe the program. 
The staff and program at WBRC were impressive! We both felt at ease and Sean settled into his routine.  His day included:  Manual Skills where he learned woodworking, ceramics, leatherwork, and gardening; Orientation and Mobility which offered a refresher on his mobility and cane skills along with training on the TrekkerBreeze; Living Skills focused on cooking, cleaning, and using devices such as the Milestone to better organize his day; Visual Skills emphasized using the Victor Reader Stream for his audio books as well as using proper lighting and scanning techniques; CNVR training instructed him in use of the iPad and his computer, and introduced him to Interactive Metronome (IM).  IM uses rhythm to help reset the brain’s timing and to improve a variety of functions including memory, concentration, and focus.  Sean will be continuing IM therapy at home.
Before I returned home we took the Caltrain into San Francisco for the day.  We went to Pier 39 and took a boat tour of the bay around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge.
I returned for the family training portion of the program on May 9th.  We met with the neurologist and with Dr. Cockerham and discussed the results of the MRI.  The high-resolution MRI did detect areas of brain damage on the right side in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and deep white matter.  While there is not visible damage in the occipital lobe (visual center of the brain) vision travels throughout the brain and all parts of the brain play a role in what the brain sees.  Sean’s damage is on the right side, and his weak eye is his left since vision crosses the brain while it travels to the back of the brain.  Testing indicates that Sean receives very little visual information through his left eye.  When presented with a light bar approximately four feet long with flashing lights, Sean’s eyes responded automatically to lights on the right side, but did not respond or “jump” to any stimuli from the center of his body to the left.  While there is no clear “x marks the spot” answer, I respect that there are things medical science cannot explain and that the doctors were up front and honest.  The instructors who worked with Sean every day did not find any indication of conversion disorder.  At this time continued vision rehab, such as the CNVR program, is recommended for possible improvement over time.  Sean will likely return to the WBRC in 8-12 months.

Overall, we were thrilled with the program and found the staff, training, and accommodations to be top notch!  HUGE thanks to John and Dan of the CNVR program, as well as to Nikki, Anita, Paula, Matt, Tony, Nicole, and all the nursing staff (and anyone I forgot)!


Western Blind Rehab Center, Menlo Park, CA
Playing Black Jack
Pier 39
Sea Lions at Pier 39
Golden Gate Bridge
Sean made dinner in Living Skills
Watering his garden
Working in the shop with Tony
Graduation with Program Manager John Kingston
Technology Class with Dan



Time Off?

I am more than a little insulted by the comment I’ve heard more than once in the past two months, “Are you enjoying your time off?”  Seriously?  Is that what you think I am doing?

I’m a full-time caregiver.  I resigned my position at school because my husband needed my support at home.   We were fortunate that he could come to work with me and offer his services as a volunteer so that I could keep an eye on him and not leave him home alone.  It was a quick fix, and while he still volunteers when he is able, taking him to work with me was not a long term solution.

Yes, I’m at home.  But guess what?  I am working.  Not only am I providing 24 hour support for my husband, I am the Volunteer Coordinator for Family Of a Vet, an AMAZING non-profit organization that is working tirelessly for veterans and familes.  FOV currently has almost 250 Grassroots Volunteers.  Through our website, facebook page, and social media we reach tens of thousands of people each month!  I am on call around the clock to provide support and resources for our members. The past two months have been filled with late FOV nights, and busy days.  Here is a run-down of what I do:

  • advocate for veterans and families
  • locate and provide resources
  • research
  • moderate group rooms online
  • offer ongoing support to our members online and through email and phone calls
  • manage the “virtual” volunteer database
  • coordinate and host the weekly Caregiver’s Edition of our Life After Combat Blog Talk Radio Show
  • coordinate with staff on projects including our blogs, fundraising, website, networking
  • use social media to raise awareness of veterans issues

I may not be working in the conventional sense, but I’m making a difference in the lives of veterans and families.  I am providing the support I wish I’d had six years ago when we started this crazy roller coaster life of uncertainty.

You may think I’m just goofing off, but actually facebook is my office. Family Of a Vet is a non-profit run by veterans and family members who *GET IT* and are trying to reach out to others who are struggling like us to help and offer support and education.

Shared by Family Of a Vet, Inc., a national non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families learn how to cope with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and life after combat through real-world, plain language education and resources for heroes, families, and communities.
 
If you know a veteran or loved one that we can help, please encourage them to visit us:
 
On the web – www.familyofavet.com 
On Blog Talk Radio – www.blogtalkradio.com/familyofavet

Family of a Vet

FamilyOfaVet.com – PTSD, TBI, & Life After Combat 

Promotional Video for FOV.

**CAUTION: This video contains graphic combat-related images. While it is intended to give people some small understanding of what a year in combat is like, the images may be difficult for some Veterans, etc., to view. If you would like to skip the combat images, go to 3:39 **

FamilyOfaVet.com (Family Of a Vet, Inc.) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to helping heroes and those who love them learn more about coping with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), TBI (traumatic brain injury) and life after combat.

Family Of a Vet was created by veterans and families FOR veterans and families!

To learn more about FamilyOfaVet.com, visit us at:

Our Main Website –
http://www.familyofavet.com

On Facebook –
http://www.facebook.com/lifeaftercombat

On Twitter –
http://www.twitter.com/familyofavet

At our Blog –
http://blog.familyofavet.com

On BlogTalk Radio –
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/familyofavet


Beyond the Battlefield–You MUST Read This

“Beyond the Battlefield” is a 10-part series by David Wood of the Huffington Post exploring the challenges that severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan face after they return home, as well as what those struggles mean for those close to them.

If you read *one* post on this blog, make it this post.

An average of 18 suicides a day. . . 18 a day. . .

Think the war doesn’t affect you? Look around. Do you know anyone who serves in the military? Anyone whose son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister serves? Is there a military base or Army Reserve or National Guard Armory in your community? Do they go your church? Do your children sit next to theirs in the classroom? Maybe you shop at the same store or eat in the same restaurant. You could be on the same plane home. Look around.

An average of 18 suicides a day. . . it affects all of us.

Sitting in the doctor’s office listening to my husband tell the doctor he is feeling down lately and having suicidal thoughts again brings that number quickly to my head. 18 a day. . . How far is he from being another number in that statistic?

If you’ve never had to contemplate that and the news is the closest you’ve been to the war, count your blessings! Hopefully, after reading you will be moved to do a little more to help spread the word and save lives.

One mother says, “I gave him to the Army in the best physical condition of his life, and they gave him back to me in pieces.” Oh, how true! My husband doesn’t have a mark on him, but he is immesurably broken and struggling to hold it together.

Please, read on.

Part 1
Beyond The Battlefield: From A Decade Of War, An Endless Struggle For The Severely Wounded

Part 2
Beyond The Battlefield: With Better Technology And Training, Medics Saving More Lives

Part 3
Beyond The Battlefield: Lack Of Long-Term Care Can Lead To Tragic Ends For Wounded Veterans

Part 4
Beyond The Battlefield: Military Turning To Wounded Vets’ Families As Key Part Of Healing Process

Part 5
Beyond the Battlefield: As Wounded Veterans Struggle To Recover, Caregivers Share The Pain

Part 6
Beyond The Battlefield: New Hope, But A Long And Painful Road, For Veterans Pulled From Death’s Grasp

Part 7
Beyond The Battlefield: Back Home, Severely Wounded Veterans Wish More Would Ask, Not Just Stare

Part 8
Beyond The Battlefield: Unprepared For Wave Of Severely Wounded, Bureaucracy Still Catching Up

Part 9
Beyond The Battlefield: As Veterans Fight For Needed Care, Long-Term Funding Remains A Question Mark

Part 10
Beyond The Battlefield: Saved From The Brink Of Death, Veteran Keeps Chasing His Dreams

Rebuilding Soldiers Transformed by War Injuries
NPR interview with David Wood
“When you think about it, one of the things that we as a country are learning is that people who are wounded in war are wounded forever,”

You can access more articles and features here Beyond the Battlefield.