The Department of Defense estimates more than 43,000 soldiers have suffered from traumatic brain injuries in the past 10 years alone. A new $12 million facility at Fort Campbell is looking to help.
Ground was broken Thursday for the National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite site at Fort Campbell. The moment couldn't have any deeper meaning for Staff Sgt. Alvis Domerese.
"I was like a volcano that erupted," said Domerese. "My wife and children could no longer stand to be around the monster that I had become, the PTSD monster."
Serving in Iraq in December of 2004, Domerese's vehicle was struck by two IEDs, sending shrapnel into his face and neck and nearly fracturing his skull.
"I isolated myself from my wife and my son who lived in the same house," said Domerese. "I was trapped in my own prison, in my heart and in my mind."
In the years after coming home, Domerese suffered depression, nightmares, insomnia, and severe mood swings until Fort Campbell referred him to the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Maryland.
Domerese received two hearing aids, had treatments for headache pain, and took classes on coping skills.
"The MRI machine, it takes 41,000 images of your brain," said Domerese. "They have that extra little bit to make things more beneficial for the soldier."
Paid for by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, this new site at Fort Campbell is the third in a planned series of nine satellite centers treating traumatic brain injuries.
"We've raised $30 million already," said Gen. Richard Cody. "We need $110 to $120 million, and we're breaking ground just as soon as we've got half the money for them. We just start breaking ground and hope the American people say, 'yeah, we're with you.' "
Now seeing his future so much brighter, Domerese said he can only hope other soldiers suffering in the same ways can also find that help.
"Please don't forget about them," said Domerese. "They didn't forget about you when they stepped up to the plate for our freedom."
Officials hope to open the new center at Fort Campbell in a year. If you'd like to make a donation to help build these satellite centers, go to http://www.fallenheroesfund.org/
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