Recovery from “invisible injury” helps Soldier plan for future

Rocky Brown

Staff Sgt. Rocky Brown and wife Shannon Brown. Assigned to Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Brown is recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury brought on by proximity to detonated improvised explosive devices during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Photo by 1st Lt. Jessica Whittington, Fort Campbell WTB A Co Executive Officer)

By John M. Rosenberg, Warrior Transition Command

Brain injuries have been called the “invisible injury” given that these type of traumatic injuries leave no visible damage or scars on the outside of the body. As with football players, Soldiers experiencing a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can sometimes go for months or years until the most severe symptoms of their TBI materialize.

Staff Sgt. Rocky Brown, Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB), Fort Campbell, Kentucky is a prime example. Brown also exemplifies, in marking Warrior Care Month, how Soldiers, Veterans and Families benefit from Army Medicine and Warrior Care and Transition Programs.

As a combat engineer conducting improvised explosive device (IED) route clearance operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brown endured countless explosions up close and personal. Unfortunately, not all of them were controlled detonations. “Sometimes we found them [IEDs], sometimes they found us,” said Brown who, years later, began to experience blackouts and seizures brought on by TBI.

When the human brain is violently thumped against the skull, the resulting blood clots and bruising end up squeezing the brain, thus worsening the damage. Brain experts stress the importance of post-injury rest to lessen the onset of the most severe TBI symptoms.

For Brown, the care he receives at the WTB has not only given him much needed rest and recovery, but also a means of planning for the future. “It’s been a great experience,” says Brown. “The chain of command has been awesome because they sit down and actually explain things to you.”

In addition to his Triad of Care, consisting of a squad leader, nurse case manager, and primary care manager at the WTB, Brown is quick to credit his wife Shannon in his recovery. “Everyone needs to know that it’s just as difficult for the spouse as it is for the Soldier,” said Brown. “They have to live with the challenges associated with TBI every day too.”

Brown is currently restricted from driving, but as he approaches his sixth month without a seizure, the Florida native hopes to be cleared by his neurologist and get back behind the wheel. Meeting this goal is doubly important to Brown as he is working, through the WTB and his carefully developed Comprehensive Transition Plan, to secure a Florida auto dealer’s license in order to start a business flipping cars.

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