Sue’s March 2015 Letter

Dear Friends of B.R.A.I.N.,

Think Tank 2015: On the Front Line of Brain Injury was a brilliant success! Little did we know when we began to plan the conference well over a year ago to honor our Military, what significance the event would have. We continue to get daily calls and correspondence telling us of how much the day impacted each of the Veterans and their families.

The day started with a Marine Color Guard in full dress uniforms presenting the colors. The National Anthem and our Country’s Pledge set the stage for what was to come.

USMC Sergeant Maj. James Schickel (Ret.) started out the program by poignantly telling his own story of PTSD and how it has affected him and his family. His careful description of symptoms and challenges engaged everyone. His recounting of his experiences in Iraq and how they affect him today was insightful to all. Thank you James and your wife, Sandra, for coming to Think Tank!

Todd Clements M.D. gave a detailed yet down to earth accounting of how our brains react to medication be it legal or illegal drugs. His skill in brain imaging and diagnosing was highlighted. His honest and vulnerable stance on overmedicating gave veracity to his lecture. He has experienced addiction from both sides of the table, prescriber and the prescribed. He has been the diagnostic physician and the person seeking help from addiction to prescription drugs. His truth telling made me proud to know him and have him on our Board of Directors. We tell the truth here at B.R.A.I.N., even when it is difficult news to share. We look forward to bringing him and his wife, Lynda, here to California to help B.R.A.I.N. thrive.

Andrew Doan M.D., PH.D. CDR MC USN gave a stirring and surprising presentation on the over use of technology and how that affects the brain. We all could relate to our technology culture and how we are using our communication devices more and more. Realizing that gaming helps our Veterans during wound dressing also reminds us that when overused, gaming can cause damage to the brain and to relationships. Dr. Doan spends 80% of his time in medical research as Head of Addictions & Resilience Research for the US Navy in the Department of Mental Health. Dr. Doan and his wife, Julie are on the front line of helping both Military and Civilians fight technology addiction. They continue to speak nation wide to give hope to those who are struggling with this issue. Dr. Doan also shared his personal struggle with technology addiction, which was sobering.

Former U.S. Army OIF Combat Veterans, Jon Warren and Scott Stephenson shared their combat experience together while in Iraq. Their Humvee ran over an IED that left Scotty an amputee and the bearer of burns left on 65% of his body and Jon, the recipient of the war’s signature wound, TBI, and both suffered from PTSD from the incident. Purple Hearts, counseling, pharmaceutical drugs and academic degrees while all appreciated, do not hold these young heroes together. It is their faith in God and the camaraderie of brotherhood. They both have found relief at the Brain Treatment Center in Newport Beach, CA. The Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRT) offered there has been a God-send. They both work for the clinic to help other Veterans in need. We look forward to seeing them again soon. Right, Guys?

John Kelley, Chair & CEO of CereScan in Colorado gave a short but important News Flash about Near InfraRed Light Therapy that is being used in the Military to help relieve our Veterans of their war pains. The future help that CereScan will be when they come to Southern California will be soon realized.

The jewel of the day that shone so brightly was the B.R.A.I.N. Person of the Year Award given to U.S. Army Private First Class Specialist, Dana Rook who ended his life in April of 2014. Accepting the award on behalf of Dana and all fallen heroes was his Mother, DeLynn McBride and his sister, Jessie Widders. A video depicting Dana’s life was only overshadowed by his mother’s dear and emotional acceptance speech. The audience was enraptured and embraced as she spoke. Dana truly embodied the theme of the day. Our brightest and best volunteer to protect our rights both here and abroad. Often, they return to their home lives without the personal protection that they so desperately need. We hope that Think Tank and all of the messages heard continue to help those who are seeking understanding and help.

27 Exhibitors, an iPad Mini Raffle Prize, a panel of experts to answer audience questions and some fantastic food all went together to provide a special and high impact day. I’m still reeling from the excitement and honestly wondering about what is next. Stay tuned…