by Alex Horton
As we approach the tenth anniversary of constant combat operations, I‘ve heard folks speak about the resiliency of service members in the face of multiple deployments against a determined enemy. War often toughens those who fight, and you learn to prepare for the worst at any moment, be it in training or in the Hindu Kush. But little in combat prepares you for the challenges that come with finding your footing back home, especially when faced with mental or physical injuries.
Alabama National Guard Lieutenant Antone Williams is a breathing example of perseverance. He suffered a concussion in a mortar attack in Afghanistan last year, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). During his recovery (and work with other wounded soldiers at the Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion at Ft. Benning), his house was destroyed by the tornados that swept through the south earlier this year. Instead of giving up, Lt. Williams said something I’ve heard a lot from folks deployed: “I’m blessed to have my life after what I’ve been through.”
When recovering from injuries, it’s easy to regress and stay indoors to avoid challenges of treatment. But getting out the house can be just as helpful as rehabilitation. Lt. Williams participated in Lima Foxtrot, a program for Veterans with TBI where they can be instructed on rock-wall climbing, scuba diving, shooting, archery, cycling, skiing and kayaking. I’m no doctor, but I can see the utility in fresh air and physical challenges this can provide.
Would this be helpful for everyone? I’m not sure, but I do know adventure therapy is gaining legitimacy as an effective tool to help wounded Veterans recover. It’s always helpful to look past the walls of a clinic or hospital to find what works best for you.
If you think you may have been subjected to a traumatic brain injury, check out symptoms and screening information to get some help at your local VA facility.