New Camp Lejeune center to combat PTSD, TBI
The (Jacksonville, N.C.) Daily News
Combating the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be the mission of Camp Lejeune’s latest clinic, introduced with a ceremony Wednesday.
The Intrepid Spirit is the second of nine satellite facilities to open under the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a treatment facility for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The center opened three weeks before the ceremony Wednesday.
The clinic has the capacity to assess more than 1,000 patients per year and its staff includes therapists and neurologists.
Funding for the Intrepid Spirit comes from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which has — since its inception in 2000 — provided more than $150 million in support for military members and their families.
“(The medical providers) do so much, not only caring for the patients, but trying out new treatments,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Jastren, 23, of Livonia, Mich., who suffered a traumatic brain injury while training in 2012. “These people actually care about their patients ... sometimes in the Marine Corps you feel like just another number but here you don’t.”
Having family in the Corps and friends who were wounded in Afghanistan, Jastren is happiest about seeing people getting quality care and not just being “loaded up” on medication. At the center, it’s all about one-on-one care, your well-being and your future, he said.
The first NICOE facility was opened at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. in 2010. The construction of the next two facilities will be at Fort Campbell, Ky. and Fort Bragg. The satellite facility includes provider offices, physical therapy rooms, a yoga room and headache management rooms.
“It’s been extremely difficult,” Jastren said of his traumatic brain injury, or TBI. “To be completely honest, it destroyed my life. I’ve been divorced, had work issues and it’s stopped me from doing things I love to do like going out shooting or hiking. Not only do you experience the physical effects of a TBI, but you’re experiencing the mental effects of doing things that used to come easy to you.”
While living life with a TBI has proved challenging, it is not impossible, Jastren said, who credits his improvement to the center’s staff. To Marines or sailors with apprehensions about seeking treatment, his message is clear, he said.
“Take the necessary steps,” Jastren said. “Don’t be afraid to make some waves ...trying to get treatment for yourself. Keep at it and don’t be afraid to address the problems you’re experiencing.”
Arnold Fisher, honorary chairman of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund was present during the ceremony and cut the ribbon with Navy Capt. David Lane, the commanding officer of Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and Brig. Gen. Robert Castellvi, the commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East, among others.
“This is a mission we started many years ago,” Fisher said. “The civilian population does what the government doesn’t do ... it’s done completely by contributions from the American people. Not one single penny comes from the government.”
Fisher’s favorite part about the center is seeing it put to use. The suicide rate’s rise, according to Fisher, is a “disgrace” and more needs to be done before troops turn suicidal. He hopes that Intrepid Spirit will show the Marines and sailors of Camp Lejeune that someone cares, that they don’t have to resort to suicide, he said.
“It’s about doing what is right for the people of America and those who defend it,” Fisher said.