If you search “soldier returns home” on YouTube, you’ll find page after page of videos featuring American service members arriving back from overseas duties. These videos are packed full of raw emotions of friends and family members who can hardly believe that their loved ones have finally made it home. But what we don’t typically see is what happens after the videos end: the haunting struggles that cast dark shadows over the lives of military men and women long after they have returned home.

These shadows are the invisible wounds of warfare, and they’re not at all uncommon.

In fact, nearly one in seven who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are currently living with such wounds. That’s over 625,000 men and women afflicted by invisible post-service injuries, such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund’s “Make it Visible” campaign aims to combat this issue by bringing these post-service afflictions to the public’s attention. “We need the American public to be aware that these are true and severe injuries, and that those suffering from them need care just as much as troops with visible injuries,” says Dave Winters, President of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

Currently, three Intrepid Spirit treatment centers have been funded and built to serve the needs of service men and women who suffer from TBI and PTSD. Major Steve Taylor sustained a non-penetrating head injury from an IED on December 22, 2010 and sought the specialized services of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) located in Bethesda, Maryland. “I sustained injuries that affected my speech, vision, balance, sleep, endocrine system, and mood,” says Major Taylor. “A medical team of specialists used a variety of cutting edge treatments formulated to address my needs and those of my family. They saved my life and my marriage. If it wasn’t for the treatment I received at NICoE and the follow-up guidance they gave my PCM, I don’t know where I would be today.”

Make it Visible

In order to accommodate the large number of service members that require such specialized treatment, the Fund also aims to raise one hundred million dollars to build other crucial treatment centers. One hundred percent of the money raised will go towards building nine centers in the United States, called Intrepid Spirit. The funds will cover building and design costs, critical state-of-the-art equipment, treatment research, and other essential components.

Intrepid Spirit at Fort Belvoir, Virginia opened earlier this month and two more centers are next in line for construction. To learn more about how you can help with the development of future Intrepid Spirit centers, check out the links below.

L E A R N + C O N N E C T
Donate or learn more about Make it Visible and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
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F R O M   T H E   E D I T O R
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