March, 22nd 2014
This is to reintroduce the amazing Major Ben Richards, a true hero for our time, first leading his men bravely and nobly in Iraq, then fighting for his mental, physical and emotional health upon his return. Which leads to to a confession: I read the NY Times and first encountered Ben in a powerful op-ed piece by Nick Kristoff speaking to the terrible truth that 22 Vets a day are committing suicide. Tears were streaming down my cheeks when I read about Ben (link to Nicks article here pls); I quickly reached out to Ben as soon as the major leader and shaker of HBOT, Dr Paul Harch, agreed to see Ben for pro bono treatment; based upon the miracles I'd read about Dr Harch achieving in his self-financed clinical trials treating Vets I had a very strong feeling he could and would help.
Ben wisely went off to New Orleans for immediate treatment - thanks here to both Dr Paul Harch and his wife Juliette Lucarini Harch as well as a group of New Orleans area West Pointers who answered our SFTT President General John Batiste's plea for housing and ancillary support donations.
Ben has had two sets of 40 dives plus about 8 more on an as need basis and as a result has begun to reclaim his function and his life to the point he can write about it below.
And in fact, he is joining John and me in Washington, DC on stage at GWU's Lisner Auditorium next Saturday, March 22, at 7pm where General Pete Chiarelli will present him with the Purple Heart for his invisible TBI wound at the beginning of an incredible show headlined by the wonderful bluesy rock of The Bacon Brothers (Kevin and Michael Bacon) Band, super comic Jim Breuer's zany lovable humor, and the talented gifts of Buskin (my adopted bro and show-runner) & Batteau, Bucky Pizzarelli & Ed Laub and Tom Prasada-Rao. All volunteering to benefit SFTT's lifesaving work!
Tickets are purposefully very reasonable - we want all our present and future friends and supporters and those who might need our help to join us. And if price is an issue, please do get in touch with Maura at sftt.org and we'll try to help.
Warrior's Widow, Eilhys England
Major Ben Richards, (USA, ret.)
Maj. Ben Richards, who suffered repeated head injuries in Iraq, sums up his future: “It comes to failure.” A car bomb in Iraq in May 2007 left Ben Richards, then a captain, with a severe concussion. A second concussion left him with debilitating injuries. [Note: it took the Army over 5 years to actually diagnose Ben with a TBI. Up to that point, he was disabled with PTSD, so far as he knew. His inability to get better was attributed -- by himself and others -- to his malingering and lack of willingness to work harder. The Army's medical advice was to continue using prescribed drugs and to get used to his "New Normal".]
........... some of the rest of the story. The transcript which follows is taken from an interview with MAJ Richards in December 2012, available at:
PassWord = HBOT
"I was very fortunate to get the very best care that was available in the US Army. ... The Army determined that I was medically unfit.... There was not an expectation that I would ever be employed again... I was fully disabled... I couldn't hold a job....the official line was that I wouldn't improve....the goal was to find a new normal....no improvement ....I have been through, as far as I can tell, every type of treatment that is offered by DoD and the VA to help with TBI. I think I have tried every medication for headaches, every medication family group. I have even done Botox injections to my head to try to deal with headaches. I have been through occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physical therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, psycho therapy and about 4-5 variants... at that point I was introduced to HBOT.... I have seen an amazing improvement. Just orders of magnitude improvement beyond anything....just a huge difference....started working out. For the first time in years I've been able to read a book.... to have hope again....to have more of a future than to just be moving piles of dirt around in the back yard...." [all this after only 40 dives]
Just after this interview, Ben was interviewed for 60 Minutes, which segment aired on 5 May 2013.
60 Minutes, 5 May 2013: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50146231n
Ben mentioned HBOT several times in the interview, but it was edited out.
Further update: Ben has finished 78 dives at Paul Harch's facilities in LA. Ben considers himself so positively transformed by HBOT that he is helping the NBIRR Coalition get help to those we serve.
The "normal" Ben Richards before his injuries:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/06/world/middleeast/06military.html?pagew... Forge Sunni Tie in Bid to Squeeze Militants
Scott Nelson/World Picture Network, for The New York Times
Capt. Ben Richards, left, discussed the positions of militants recently with residents and the police in the Buhritz sector of Baquba, Iraq.
By MICHAEL R. GORDON Published: July 6, 2007