Healing Heroes Network, Inc.
September 15, 2010
I am writing this for my son who served in Iraq in 2005 with USMC. Josh was a well respected deputy/SWAT member for nearly ten years. He had received several medals, recognition for doing his job well. He had nothing to prove but after 9/11 he HAD to join the Marine Corps. At 27 he was considered "older" in boot camp. But true to Josh's drive he graduated honor graduate. Everything he did and still does is 110%. On 7/5/05 while on patrol his vehicle was car bombed. Normally Josh is the driver but this day he had to take over for someone in the turret. The explosion hit the vehicle and it caught on fire, a credit card size piece of shrapnel tearing through his brain and he sustained severe burns on his upper body and hands. Everyone got out and realized Josh was trapped. They went back in to get him which was not easy since he fought back and is over 6'6" tall and just as solid. There was never an hope offered from the very beginning. I was flown there to escort his body home as I wasn't "supposed" to make it in time. Examining my son I learned that no one had ever survived his injury. The trip back would be extremely dangerous and yet there he was squeezing my hand whenever I spoke and not in a coma. They had to do that medically. The months that followed, infections, coma, surgeries, fevers still no hope was offered, "he probably will not know you" and they "doubted he would ever walk or talk. Too much of the brain had been destroyed. But when he came out of the coma unexpectedly (it was too early) and looked me right in the eyes there was recognition in his eyes. Even the doctors were baffled. A few more months put back into the coma and more surgeries and Josh made it to the next step..stabilizing. He was breathing on his own, reacting, smiling, following me all over the room and moving parts of his body when asked. Then came 16 months of healing at the VA while waiting for future surgeries at the Naval Hospital. The VA literally refused to admit he was capable of any improvement and he was given very little therapy while there. So I closed the door and worked with him alone. Every time he went back to the Naval hospital the surgeons could not believe it was the same man. Josh's neurosurgeon started it all, he saw the potential and knew we needed expertise. He sent Josh to Casa Colina in California. We got there and Josh was mostly bedridden, or in a chair. When we left 2 years later he was learning to walk with assistance and his speech had come back, hesitantly and with prompting but he could respond now. I read about HBOT and researched for hours. I wrote emails and was encouraged to try it. The VA refused. Despite the bigger improvement Josh was making at home using his skills from California, they wouldn't budge. And then I met Dr. Spiegel and his wife Stacy. Dr. Spiegel went out of his way to go to the VA and offer HBOT for free to all our injured but they did nothing. When I would ask question about why they couldn't give me an answer. So I contacted Dr. Spiegel and he explained the treatment never promising anything, but the chance to be even slightly physically stronger on his left side was worth trying HBOT. Dr. Spiegel was shocked to see Josh's capabilities esp after seeing his xrays. He should not be doing what he does. Josh had always answered any questions I asked so we could communicate but there was little initiation on his part. After only 4 treatments it was as if a light went on. We were driving home and I could here him over the radio say "Mom my clarity is better". I stopped the car and said "How". My son told me "It is easier for me to get the words into a full sentence". I cried. From that moment forward he initiated conversations, says hi as soon as he sees you, or when he walks into a room and you are there, talks on the phone, gives his opinions and teases and makes jokes. It is as if all his communication skills just were set free. Four weeks later I noticed he was walking with the walker and me much stronger. So jokingly I said "you should walk without the walker". And he did. Every day is stronger and longer. He uses the treadmill on his own at a higher speed and even this week starting with the incline. He is even swimming now. And his balance is amazing. I credit this to the tremendous strength he has regained in his weaker left side since HBOT. Prior to that he could not push the left foot in a shoe. Now it is not a problem and he has stopped dragging that foot when walking. We stopped using his wheelchair at home. I can never thank HHN enough for adding to the quality of my son's life. He is happier than ever and still improving, even shaving. We will be going back for more treatments and I don't know how they can keep doing this if they don't get some kind of help in return. They are one of the few who show our heroes appreciation asking nothing for themselves. This organization needs to be recognized and helped back. How we are treated when there is like family, not like they are doing a favor. God bless all of them
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
My son regaining more quality in his life than I dared hope for.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
My questions are always answered clearly. And the best part is that when Josh advances I find Dr. Spiegel getting just as moved as I do!
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
Caring, warm, friendly
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
Help more of our wounded rather than watch them get put in studies for years some not even getting HBOT.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Client Served & Sgt. USMC, medically retired.