Giving people back their lives!

TBI/PTSD Letter to Congressman Jones

 12 May 2009

 
Dear Congressman Jones:   In re: Corporal Jacob "Jake" Mathers
 
My grandson Jake enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17 and trained at Parris Island.  He took further training and then proceeded to Iraq as a shooter with 3/1 Marines.  His unit was in combat on his first deployment at the time of Falluja(h).  He had some bad experiences but no visible wounds. 
After a few months home, he recycled to Iraq..this time participating in the battle for Ramadi.  In an attack which was filmed by Al Queda, he was knocked unconscious by an enormous load of explosives, which blew up the Marine checkpoint...killed several Marines, and left a huge hole in the road.
 
Fortunately, Jake was in a building, on the other side of the wall from the checkpoint...so his building was not collapsed.  All of the Marines in the building were knocked unconscious..but none were bleeding when they awoke.  (See the Al Queda tape of this attack)
 
Jake was never the same after that explosion.  When he came home in 2006, he simply had no useful memory.  His personality changed..and he has hitting his smaller brother way too hard to just be jousting.  He seemed very frustrated, and extremely forgetful.  He could not remember where he had left his car keys, or lighter, or cigarettes. He could not express full thoughts, and would lose what he was trying to talk about before he got finished.  His words were disconnected, and he did not make sense.
He commenced drinking far too much alcohol..usually beer, and would drink until he was stupid drunk.  He had always been very respectful and obedient with me, but he simply would no longer listen when I commented that he had enough to drink.  If someone else would make such a comment, he would get very angry.  He never showed anger with me, but that was because it was me. 
He complained of headaches, and being tired.  He could sleep for 12-14 hours.  He had a very high startle response, and his head and eyes were continually turning as if he was in danger and looking for threats.  He clearly had at the minimum...PTSD.
 
The last year that he was in the Corps..he had to be telephoned by his mother to make it to appointments with the medics and hospital.  He could not find his way around Camp LeJeune..and the surrounding towns. He once left on an hour and a half trip...and took several hours to find his way back. 
 
I telephoned the Commander of the Hospital on base, and his battalion commander and demanded that he get an MRI, brain scan, etc...and that he meet a Med Eval Board and then a Physical Eval Board before he got separated.  The Marines dropped the ball and failed to get him consistent evaluation and treatment.  They (Marines) kept snowing him with the story that a Medical Discharge was not the equivalent of an honorable discharge.  He began telling me that he would ONLY accept an HONORABLE discharge.  I could not get through to him on this subject.  They even discussed re-enlisting him, but I shot that down.
 
The Corps discharged him w/ no disability rating, no Purple Heart (so that he cud get into the Combat Related Disability program), and the continual claim that they could not find his medical records to rate him for disability late in 2008.  This was after several months after his contract expired, and without getting him evalled at a PEB, and treated.  It was disingenuous and disloyal  to treat these kids this way.  I had several Marine friends trying to fix this from outside of the Corps..to no avail.
 
Fortunately..I had tried an airplane crash case in Dallas, TX in 1998 where I got a million eight hundred thousand dollar check for my brain damaged client..and I had hired a highly trained neurologist and neurosurgeon who testified in that case about all of the things that happen with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
I had purchased a medical text on the state of the art treatment of these awful symptoms.
 
At the dedication of the USAF Memorial a couple of years ago, I was invited to be part of the ceremony..and went over to Walter Reed Hospital to visit my friend B/G Patt T Maney.. (a judge) who had just been blown up by an I.E.D. in Kabul.  It was pitiful.  He had a terrible TBI injury, and had lost a huge amount of his vocabulary, ability to reason, couldn't speak a complete sentence, was teary eyed, confused, frustrated, and had to be led around by his wife..Thank God for her.  The Army was just as incompetent and disorganized as the Marine Corps..and all of these TBI cases at Walter Reed were being neglected just like Jake Mathers in the Marine Corps.    I even took one of these brain damaged Majors to a P.E.B. and of course the PEB found him 100% unemployable.. but it took a knowledgeable ex-military trial lawyer to present the case.  He had been in this condition for 944 days before we went to the board.
 
I learned about the hyperbaric treatment program that was being applied to B/G Maney.  He was getting his marbles back in the bag.  He took about 80 of these treatments, and has had an incredible improvement.
 
I am the Public Defender for Okaloosa County..so am in court frequently, and see him at social events..and the change is almost miraculous.  It is almost like Jesus touching the leper and curing him.
 
Thus, I got in contact with Dr. Paul Harch.  He took Corporal Jake Mathers into the hyperbaric chamber program for some 84 treatments, and the change was just as miraculous as the one that happened to B/G Patt Maney.  Jake came to our home with his family for Easter 2009.  I was astounded at the improvement that he had made.  He could speak in complete sentences.  He could make sense when he spoke.  He could remember things.  His startle response was much changed for the better.  His anger level, and his pounding on his little brother has improved...but he needs some counseling and treatment.  His frustration is still high, much to do w/ not being able to find a job.
He was so screwed up when he got back to W. Monroe, LA that he could not get an unemployment application filled out, without his mother's help and almost total involvement.  He has finally accomplished that and is starting to get a little unemployment money.
 
I attribute this huge improvement in Jake Mathers to Dr. Paul Harch and Jake's loyal and patient mother.
Jake's mother, Sandra, has had to lead him around like a small boy or a retard, because he simply could not function before.  Dr. Harch has found an effective treatment.  I cannot claim that it is perfect, but I can testify under oath that B/G Patt Maney and Jake Mathers have gotten their lives and futures back with Dr. Harch's oxygen and hyperbaric chamber treatments. 
 
From a purely practical standard, and the issue of loyalty to these kids we have sent off to war..., any treatment that we provide these young people is better than the gross neglect, and bureaucratic intransigence that has been the rule, rather than the exception.
 
Dr. Harch should be nominated for physician of the year by the Congress and the military.  Like the doctor Jonas Salk, who found the cure for polio, Dr. Harch will be remembered as the savior of thousands of disabled victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries.
 
I certify  under the penalties of perjury that the contents of this letter are true. 
 
 
 
 
Col. Geo "Bud" Day  MOH-AFC    VN POW  Attorney at law since 1949.