Pentagon to spend $300M for study of TBI and PTSD

erin beaver creek wounded warrior project spa weekend_edited-1

Wounded Warrior Project:  The above picture was taken at The Charter Hotel at  Beaver Creek, Colorado.  Erin and 18 other wives of wounded Marines and Soldiers were invited to this weekend get-away by the Wounded Warrior Project.  As with the recent trip Erin took to the Brain Injury Association of American Caregivers Conference in Dallas/Ft Worth, all expenses for this trip were paid by the Wounded Warrior Project.  The picture above is a little small, so if you’re having trouble finding Erin, she is kneeling in the front row, third from the left.

Erin had a wonderful time in Beaver Creek.  She said she was really able to connect with all these girls and wishes she had more time to get to know more of them.  The girls were given facials, massages and participated in group therapy sessions.  When we texted Erin on Friday night, she said she was having a great time at the “pajama bunko” party.  One of the girls is going to start a MySpace page so that all of them can continue to stay connected.

If you are not already contributing to a charity that supports veterans and their families, the Wounded Warrior Project is a worthy cause.  They, along with the Marine Corps Semper Fi Foundation and Soldier’s Angeles were there waiting for Erin when she and Sam first arrived in Bethesda NNMC and they continue to be there for Sam and Erin and our whole family today.

DoD Research Funds for TBI and PTSD:  Wonderful news in the TBI research world.  The Pentagon is spending $300 million dollars for research related to TBI and PTSD.  This includes research on 20 different medications related to TBI.  When Erin was at the Brain Injury Association of America Caregivers Conference last week, she mentioned that many caregivers of non-military TBI patients we so thankful that the military TBI issues were giving all TBI research much needed publicity.  It’s estimated that 1.4 million Americans suffer from TBI each year—235,000 of those cases are serious enough to require hospital care (based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To read more on this topic, see this article from USA Today.

Sam’s medical status:

Good Evening All,

Erin lent her expertise to the “Wounded Warrior Battalion’s” workshop in Denver this past weekend; so it was Kelley’s and my distinct pleasure to sit and visit with Sam. On Saturday, Kelley took some friends with her that were so excited to be there and pray for Sam. I got the impression they were from a Spanish speaking church and were elated to hear Sam use his voice to talk to Erin by phone. They were blessed, but were a blessing to Sam as well. If we could ask for another prayer this evening; Sam’s Uncle, Rick Hendricks, collapsed at work today and was unresponsive for several hours…We immediately had dozens and dozens of spirit filled believers praying for him and he regained consciousness this evening. Sam in his own voice, “gargled” out this prayer: “Heavenly Father, In Jesus name, we call Rick the healed of God.” They are doing tests tonight to determine the cause of the incident but we are believing the same power that moves Sam along will restore Rick as well.

Sam had a fantastic week full of therapy sessions and tests. He has 3 successive EEG’s and no sign of any seizure activity…He is off of the stronger anti-convulsants and just takes one mild one for now…He doesn’t seem to be displaying severe symptoms of any iSam in PT_Kentfield_08_03_08infections either so it is full steam ahead for progress again. The therapists are jazzed to see him back in the “work mode” as he breaks his own record daily for sitting up unassisted. The first picture is of Sam sitting to rebuild the muscles in his core…After a few minutes, he began to tip sideways and he said, “Oh S_ _t! Ha! Erin and the therapists roared…Can’t get all the Marine out of the boy…Ha! The other picture during Physical Therapy is Erin giving him ample reason to work hard. A kiss for motivation…If you look hard you can see the Anniversary ring that Sam gave Erin for their 5th wedding anniversary. Erin was the envy of the nursing staff and they all wanted to know from Sam where their ring was…Sam was hilarious playing to their requests…The last picture is of Erin throwing some jabs at Sam with Sam & Erin Kissing_Kentfield_8_4_08his night time mitten. It is used to keep him from pulling out essential tubes and such…He is getting very fast with his response time in blocking her…

The last two days he didn’t want the T.V. on at all…he wanted some  reading done for him; and seemed quite content to hear some stories…he listened intently and interacted on several occasions…at one point I looked at him and he seemed to be deep in thought so I asked him what he was thinking about? He threw up his hand as if to say nothing or I don’t know…To be funny, I said while you’re sitting there why don’t you solve world hSam & Erin Boxing_kentfield_8_4_2008unger? Without missing a beat he slowly raised his hand to his chin  and began to stroke it in a very thoughtful way…What a character…Yesterday when I arrived I mentioned that maybe we could call Donny later. In about 30 minutes he initiated a phone call by making glasses with his fingers to indicate “Donny” and then did the phone thing to his ear…Erin says that is big for him to initiate that by himself…today he tried to reach behind himself for the pull chain for the overhead light…I doubt if I could have come any closer…

In a two or three week period here we have many celebrations to enjoy with Sam and Erin. His “alive day” (July 24th); Their 5th wedding anniversary (July 27th); and now Sam’s 24th birthday on August 12th…Last year he turned 23 in a coma in Bethesda Naval Hospital’s intensive care unit. Look where God has led him in just one year…Can you see in your mind where he will be on his 25th b’day? I am stating unequivocally that he will be walking and talking perfectly by then…Let me just say a word about their anniversary…My sister said that if you think you are in touch with your emotions, just try and tell someone how you feel about them with out thinking about it in advance…you stumble, stammer, and usually crash and burn…I talked to Erin about their anniversary and tried to delicately find out how her feelings had either been changed or does she do what she does because their love was so perfect before the accident? She did not stutter or hesitate; she said they were best friends, had become closer before the events of last year, and they both had always put each other needs before their own…As I choked down the lump in my throat; I could see it…just as she described it…100% accurate; borne out by actions and not just words…That is how God works; and He is working through Erin…

Much Love,


13 Responses to Pentagon to spend $300M for study of TBI and PTSD

  1. Caroline Bruce says:

    WOW sounds great all this progress!!!
    Congrats to you both on your 5th Wedding Anniversary… Crazy how time flies!!!
    And say a big Happy Birthday to Sam from me!!!

    Prayers & thoughts with you all,

  2. Dennis Bounds says:

    I have only just glanced at this post and am not familiar with Sam or Erin. I wouldn’t feel any right to post here at all if I hadn’t experienced some of what I am sure Erin is feeling and going through. Hang in there Erin! It sounds like Sam is recovering and developing some good skills again. Congratulations to him and to you, Erin. All of you who are providing care and support, you can never fully appreciate the help you are unless you’ve been in the situation.

    I know. My wife of 21 1/2 years was involved in a horrible car accident on March 26, 2006. She was struck, T-bone style, on the driver’s side of her car, directly on the two doors, by a minivan traveling at 70 miles per hour. She suffered massive injuries: 27 fractures (including 2 in her neck and 4 other spinal fractures), torn bladder, torn spleen, severed artery, collapsed lung, a severe traumatic brain injury, and bleeding and swelling in her brain. Neuropsychologists at TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) in Houston told me that had the injury been any worse, my wife would have never regained consciousness. They told me that she would never recover cognitively beyond being able to make a sandwich and take care of her most basic hygiene needs. That was in early June 2006. In early December, 2006, the same doctor told us, after testing my wife for several hours, that he could not identify any cognitive deficits! A loving, caring, healing God intervened and healed my wife’s TBI. She still suffers from other debilitating effects of the accident, but mentally we have her back. It is good! Having read about Sam’s case, I will pray for his recovery. Be strong and of good courage!

  3. julie morelli says:

    I’m always so amazed and humbled when I come to this blog. Amazed for all the wonderful progress that is happening each day for Sam, he is an incredible blessing and a true warrior as he works through his recovery…..amazed at Erin and her strength, love and faith..she’s truly remarkable… amazed at the determination, strength and faith of the family and amazed at you Tony for always putting forth an informative and positive blog. This is love at it’s truest and finest. I’ve learned so much from each of you. I’m now deeply interested in TBI and have joined the many blogs and research sites etc. I’m hungry to learn as much as I can. I’ve always been a member of Wounded Warrior Project and I’m a proud Soldiers’ Angel, but again, i’m amazed at the outreach and opportunities that WWP provides on an ongoing basis not only for the wounded warrior but the families. It’s truly remarkable. My respect and admiration has grown even more than I thought possible for these organizations as they support you in your journey. My faith has grown as I witness yours be tested and you dig in and not falter with yours. Happy Alive Day, Happy Anniversary and especially Happy Birthday! Sam, Erin and Families….thank you. I continue to keep you all in my thoughts and prayers daily.

    soldiers’ angel

  4. Barbara Boyle says:

    As always I am thrilled to hear of Sam’s continuing progress.Keep up the good work. My grandson,”doc Hansen”,came through his brain surgery with remarkable results. They were able to accomplish all that they had hoped to in correcting the pressure that was causing the numbness on his left side and the dizziness when he bent over. His neurosurgeon called him his “miracle kid”. He had his surgery last Friday and was able to be discharged home on Monday evening. They had told him to expect a 5-7 day hospital stay but he was up walking the next day and showed remarkable pain tolerance and was off the morphine in two days time. Now Amber is having trouble getting him to rest and take it easy at home.I am sure this wonderful outcome was greatly facilitated by the many prayers and blessings from all of his family and friends.Heavenly Father is definitely mindful of all His children!

  5. Lori Peoria says:

    Aaawww Erin you got a anniversary ring! 🙂
    I love seeing the pictures of their love!

    Soldiers’ Angels

  6. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hey there Sam, Erin, the Nichols & Neria Families!

    Holy smokes you are making gigantic strides Sam!! With each post you are doing more and more, saying more and more, just doing great. Oh yesiree – you will be walking and talking by your 25th!!! Sorry I was away last week and didn’t get a chance to wish you both a VERY HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!! What a beautiful ring!!! Your love for each other is not your usual kind of love – nope not at all. To see you both together is to actually SEE love. Until I “met” you and Erin, it never crossed my mind that that could be possible.

    So glad that you were able to get some “Erin Time” Erin! I heard through another site that the weekend was a total smash. I just can’t imagine how nice it must have been for you, to be able to actually relax, get some stuff off your chest perhaps in the company of friends that really know where you’re coming from. Good for you Erin! I’m still trying to figure out what pajama bunko is! 🙂

    Oh and AWESOME new pics – I”m still chucking about Sam’s words when almost falling over -that was funny! Sam you’re looking awesome, and so are you Erin! The one where he’s kissing you makes my eyes water.

    God bless you Sam, Erin & your wonderful families. Thoughts, prayers, support and load upon load of Angel Hugs are always coming your way, each and every day. You guys ROCK!!!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  7. tony neria says:

    hi all — Tomorrow is Sam’s birthday and Eric will be sending me an update tomorrow. Sam is really amazing us lately. He just started calling Erin by her nick-name, “Ernie-bird” fir the first time since he was hurt.

  8. Mike, Teri and Jerad Buckmaster says:

    Happy Birthday Sam!!!! You both are in our prayers!

  9. Carol says:

    Trusting your day will have many SONshine moments.
    Know we are praying for you and excited to see how
    God is doing miracle after miracle in your body.
    Have a wonderful day.

  10. Jason says:

    HAPPY 24th BIRTHDAY, SAM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  11. Solarraven says:

    Happy Birthday Sam ! best wishes for you all

  12. Randy, Patti and Scott says:

    Happy 24th Birthday, Sam! You and Erin and your families are always in our prayers.

    Love, The Kjenstads

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