Sunday, March 14, 2010

Once a Warrior Always a Warrior

Last week I got a book in the mail that I thought was just for real warriors. After all, most of my service was inside the wire on a very big, well-protected air base and when I went outside the wire it was in a Blackhawk or Chinook helicopter, not in a convoy.

Then I started reading the book and it reminded me of something a medic told me near the end of my tour. He knew how I got in the Army by very carefully answering questions about the accident I had between my enlistment physical and actual enlistment. I thought it would have been the injuries that disqualified me from service, especially from deployment. But the medic said, "It was the concussion. You lost three days man. You got your bell rung like it was in a Church steeple. They would have sent your ass home if they knew."

The title of the book is "Once a Warrior Always a Warrior" by Charles W. Hoge, MD, Col. USA ret. The subtitle is: Navigating the Transition from Combat to Home Including Combat Stress, PTSD, and mTBI.

The last item, mTBI, is the one that affected me before deployment. Since we only had an occasional missile attack, mostly when we first arrived, Combat Stress and PTSD were not part of my life. But the chapter on mTBI made sense out of some stuff that bothers me still, almost three years after the accident. It was also interesting to me that he mentioned combatives training. I wrote about hanging on in my match when I got paired up with a 21-year-old body builder in a combatives match. Twice during that training I was "out" for a moment.

But since the accident I have not been able to retain my ability to read Greek or French as well as before. I gave up on Greek in Iraq and struggled with simple French. But memory is one of the problems with mTBI. It could be I am just getting old, but next month I get a physical from my civilian doctor and I will ask him about both the accident and the combatives and if I should be doing anything with my memory problems.

From the chapters I have read so far, I can say the book is well written and informative. It really made me think about the subject in a new way.