Ground was broken this week on a new center at Fort Bragg that will focus on the treatment of traumatic brain injuries. According to the latest estimates from the Defense Department, there have been hundreds of thousands of these cases diagnosed - and perhaps as many that have not yet been diagnosed.
Nine of these new centers are planned for different communities in the United States. They are known as the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) Satellite Centers.
Staff Sgt. Spencer Milo was diagnosed with post traumatic stress in 2011 after a suicide bomber -- the bomber was a child -- attacked his patrol in Afghanistan. Milo had a traumatic brain injury, and received treatment at one of the NICoE centers:
I can personally attest to the life changing experience NICoE offers – and to the immense need for a satellite center in the Ft. Bragg community. It was tough to leave my friends on base, but getting treatment was one of the best decisions I ever made. This new Intrepid Spirit Center will offer others like me an opportunity to find peace again while keeping their support systems close by.
Organizers say that Fort Bragg was chosen because it is the base of the U.S. Special Forces and Command. 40,000 active service members, veterans and their families call the area home. These special forces troops, an elite section of the U.S. Army, have seen intense action all around the world, especially since September 11.
Arnold Fisher, Honorary Chairman of the Intrepid Heroes Fund, says Fort Bragg is a natural choice. “Too many service members have come home after one or more tours of duty to fight their own battle against TBI and PTS. Now, they will return home to Ft. Bragg knowing that they are not alone.”
David Winters is President of the non-profit Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. He says the center at Fort Bragg will offer traditional medical and pharmaceutical treatments but also less conventional modalities like music and art therapy:
These are soldiers or marines or sailors who may not look at themselves at artists. But just by the act of creating [an] artistic piece, it helps them work through some of the issues they're suffering inside their brains.
There are similar centers at Camp LeJeune and Fort Belvore. Six more are being planned at other bases around the country. The centers are funded entirely by donations from the public.