In 2008, while serving as a United States Marine, I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. During a mission I was impacted with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while sitting inside of a military vehicle. Although I must leave many details out of the mission due to operational security, the one thing I can speak about was the trauma that it caused.
A year after this incident 2009, I was evaluated by the mental health clinic in 29 Palms, California and I was diagnosed with having TBI because of not only the impact of the IED but also because of the several hits that I took to the head while being bounced around in the vehicle.
While serving on active duty, until January 2017, I was receiving the appropriate mental health care; however, once out of the military it has been a struggle to receive the same care. I have the fortunate ability to go to the nearest Veteran’s Affairs medical center and receive care; thus, from experience I can say that the appropriate mental health care is not given.
I have been struggling with TBI, and I accept that. I am not the type of person that whispers about my current condition because it seem too cliché or because it sounds like I am dying. I live with it, I have it, and I am reminded of it every day as I have a mark on my head that I look at every morning. Taking 20 pills a day in order to be so called ‘normal’ is not the thing that I struggle with. The fact that it has been harder for me to learn, express myself, and remember is the things that impacts me the most.
As a current student of Temple University, it has been hard for me to learn what the lectures are about. I have to read things multiple times in order for me to understand the material. The school has also provided me with a text to speech program in order for me to listen to the readings that I have to do for possible homework. If I didn’t have this program a regular 2 hour reading assignment would take me an entire day to get through. As I go through my day attempting to learn, once I understand it myself it is difficult to express it to others what I read either verbally or written. This could be due to the fact that I have short term memory loss and forget things easily and remember them 6 months later.
Yes, it is hard to live with TBI, but I will not give up in trying to advance myself through life. As a current student I might have difficulties that other students may not have but this doesn’t mean that I do not have the passion in order to get myself the same education that they are getting. It may take me a little longer to learn but I am my own competition.