By Alicia Murie
Commitment & Dedication
On November 22,97 I was nearly killed in a car accident in which I was broadsided at 60mph. The doctors really didn’t think I was going to survive after having the bottom left three ribs broken and my brain slammed against both sides of the skull at 60mph. As the intern, at the time, put it, it looked like my brain had been taken out of my head and dropped in a bucket of cold water and they didn’t know what was going to reconnect. Needless to say I set goals and made it my mission to prove the statistics wrong.
Building the organization from the ground up
The summer of 2001 I created A TBI’s Corner to help educate others on Traumatic Brain Injury and show ways of helping students to succeed in school. I did this because I didn’t want to be the only one with a severe Traumatic Brain Injury to recover to where you could not only tell I didn’t have a Traumatic Brain Injury but to the point you couldn’t tell I was disabled either. I had gained friends from other TBI survivor message boards. One of them Ashley Washsauen, from Illinois, and I were talking about how help just disappears once you enter college. I wanted to create an online club but didn’t know quite what else to do. Ashley and I discussed on how building TBI Raiders into an online club would be beneficial for students with a TBI because it would provide a support network for survivors who were still in school.
By the summer of 2004 after I had returned from Washington D.C., I really wanted to do something more. By that time I had nagged my dad, a 36 yr vet of the army, enough about exactly how high I scored on the ASVAB test my junior year and discovered I had scored in the top 1 %. While I knew I would never be able to enlist, I still felt called to really stick my neck out there to do something to help this country. So with what I learned in D.C., I decided to turn TBI Raiders into a volunteer service for not just students and young adults living with a Traumatic Brain injury but also for students who lived with and without a Traumatic Brain Injury.
I want to create a non-profit organization for TBI Raiders still but in order for that to occur some other things needed to happen first. What need to happen first are there needs to be student organizations on college campuses. Then from there form chapters and then go to non-profit status. There are close to ten states who have said in the past they want to create state affiliated chapters of TBI Raiders and Seattle Brainworks in Washington has already said once we reach a 501©3 status they want to bring us in to be part of the International Brain Injury Alliance. Also the Western Brain Injury Alliance and Brain Injury Association of America are supportive of TBI Raiders and all are excellent contacts of mine. Then Sherry Holland with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center emailed me to say that as a government funded organization that they could not participate in any non-profit organizations unless approved by them or at a higher level. But she continued to say that what I was trying to do with TBI Raiders and the event I had emailed her about sounded like a great venue and wished us well on it.
What Traumatic Brain Injury survivors need?
A support network and not the worry that they are going to be judged just because while they appear to be like everyone else, they still have the worse days ever….ex: being able to remember only every 5 seconds. Friends who are going to be there for them no matter what and will not turn their back on them, sometimes it can be something just as the wrong look which will set them off or the tone of voice a person uses which will affect them. They need to know they are still important and still can be a part of something in which they are able to do something and give back. Need to know that sometimes we just don’t want to talk or be around others because some survivors do deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well.
Outcome & Benefits
Learn leadership skills
Gain job skills
Interact with state and congressional leaders for Oklahoma
Give back to their community and make a difference on their campus
Help Traumatic Brain Injury survivors
Get a resume online
Help plan events
And much more…
Final Key Point
We have way too many veterans coming home with TBI and PTSD. We should have had something already in place to help them since prior to the wars in the Middle East 1.4 million Americans were sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury. Now the numbers are anywhere from 1.7 to 2 million Americans, depending on where you look online for statistics. We need to stop the bickering and realize what is more important, helping not just TBI survivors but especially the veterans because they are the ones who are standing out on the front line for us, even if they don’t agree with your beliefs or values, they are still willing to stand up and protect to the freedoms that we have because we’re Americans and I will go as far as to say that the Armed Forces of this country are the real heart of this country because to do what they do, it takes a lot of heart and bravery to be willing to stick your neck out on the line like they do each and every day.