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Peninsula Daily News


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Base screening more for brain injuries Soldier, family shares story of his recovery By Adam Ashton The News Tribune

TACOMA — As many as one in four soldiers coming home to Joint Base LewisMcChord from combat deployments report being exposed to explosions that trigger mild traumatic brain injuries. Often overlooked, these injuries, known by the shorthand TBI, can lead to depression, short-term memory problems and sleep loss. Lewis-McChord is stepping up its screening efforts to steer soldiers to treatment. Last Thursday, it hosted a summit to spread information to military families.

His struggle with injury A personal story was shared by Sgt. Shane Van Fossen, injured two years ago when a roadside bomb exploded under his Humvee in Iraq. He was deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Benning, Ga. His wife, Spc. Justine Van Fossen, was deployed to the same base east of Baghdad. They coped with his injuries until he found a routine

want to be here. I’ve already been told I can’t be fixed.” He said, “I don’t know who told you that. You’re fixable.” I embraced it immediately. I wanted to be fixed.

that helped him recover at Madigan Army Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury Program. The Van Fossens spoke with The News Tribune on Thursday about his struggle to heal. Question: What happened after the bomb exploded? Shane: I blacked out twice. They wanted to call a medevac. I said no, I wanted to stay with my guys. We continued with the mission, and I just noticed from time to time I was having trouble with things. It was getting hard to remember things. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but for me, I’m a payattention-to-detail guy. I had trouble sleeping. It was all the classic symptoms, and I didn’t know it. I had never been hurt like that before. I thought I was just being a jerk. Question: What happened when you came home to Georgia? Shane: It was all new. New roads. New apartment. I had trouble even remembering where our house was.

Question: What did you do to heal? Shane: It was a lot of memory tests. Reading, not just reading but reading to retain. Playing on the Wii to work on hand-eye coordination. Your brain’s like any other muscle, and you have to exercise it. Question: Justine, how were you involved in his recovery? Shane: I didn’t involve her. She took charge of me. Justine: I would test The Associated Press him. I pushed him. We’d talk, and I’d quiz Spc. Justine Van Fossen and her husband, Sgt. Shane Van Fossen, right, him about things we talked pause at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. They are now dealing with Shane’s about 30 minutes earlier. traumatic brain injuries he sustained during his deployment. Shane: She challenged me all the time; she never I went to a TBI clinic, Question: How did you my wife. and they weren’t treating wind up getting help at Finally, I said, “Honey, got angry with me. me to get better. Madigan? I’m doing bad. I want some Question: You’re here They were treating me Shane: I started an help because I think I have today to talk with 400 of to cope with it, like it was assignment at the Seattle post-traumatic stress.” your peers. something I just had to live recruiting center in FebruWhat do you want them with. ary ’09. Question: What hap- to know about TBI? My first year was really pened at the TBI clinic Shane: You can heal. Question: Justine, rough. There were just a lot here? You can get better. could you see a change? of things you have to do to Shane: I just was not Not every single story of Justine: I could tell a make sure a recruit is qual- looking forward to it. I was a soldier being deployed difference. ified to be in the military. bombing the tests. The doc- and coming home is a disasThis was his sixth It’s all lists and checks, tor pulled me in his office, ter story. deployment. Before, he was and it was hard for me. and he said, “What’s wrong You’ve got to take advancalm, cool and collected. It really started depress- with you?” He said, “You tage of the tools that are Now, he was anxious ing me. I was irritable. don’t want to be here.” available to you. You just have and forgetting things. I was picking fights with I told him, “No, I don’t to have the courage to ask.

Briefly: State Man charged for threat to Sen. Murray SPOKANE — A man who is accused of waving a meat cleaver out his car window and threatening to kill Sen. Patty Murray when she was in Spokane last month was charged with threatening a

federal officer. KREM-TV and KHQ-TV reported 50-year-old John Sieler is scheduled to appear in federal court Monday for a bail hearing. Police said Sieler twice drove by a rally outside the TV studio where Murray, D-Bothell, was holding a campaign debate and yelled profanities and threats at her supporters. Police arrested him on his third pass and seized

the meat cleaver and several knives.

Salal picker’s death SHELTON — A hunter accused of killing a man picking floral greens in the woods near Shelton has been charged with manslaughter. The charge filed Friday in Mason County Superior Court said 39-year-old Gerald Wayne Aldrich caused the Sept. 29 death through

criminal negligence. He faces about five years in prison if convicted. Aldrich said he thought he was shooting at a bear and had missed. His bullet killed Carlos Pablo Carrillo, sheriff’s deputies said. Carrillo, 24, of Shelton was gathering salal, which is used by florists.

Barbell beating TACOMA — A man

accused of beating his landlady with a barbell and running over her with a van has been charged with murder in Tacoma. The News Tribune reported a not guilty plea was entered Thursday on behalf of 32-year-old Ivan Lee Pinto. He’s jailed on a $1 million bail. The Pierce County medical examiner’s office has identified the 60-year-old Tenino woman as

Janice Gallaher. Deputies arrested Pinto on Wednesday near Roy after he reported the death. He told them the woman struck him first during an argument. An autopsy found the victim had been hit multiple times with a blunt object, but the fatal skull fracture was caused by being run over by a vehicle. The Associated Press

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