VA Palo Alto Health Care System
The Importance of Family Support
My name is PFC (Private First Class) William Victor Tarozzi II. I have been at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, CA since February of 2014 because I was hit by a car in the prior month. During the accident, I fractured two bones in my left leg and suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as a stroke on the left side of my brain. I finally woke up after being in a coma for 15 days.
Whoever reads this might wonder how that happened or why. I had just graduated from Marine Corps boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, CA. My friend from high school had invited me to see a movie, The Lone Survivor. When I arrived at his house, I knocked on his door and when he opened it, his dog ran out into the street. Without thinking of my own safety, my reflexes sent me running after the dog. I had just taken one, maybe two, steps off the curb to chase his dog when all of a sudden I was hit by a car.
The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital at the University of Southern California (USC). My parents took turns staying by my side the entire time I was in the hospital. The first thing I said to my MoM, Mother of Marine, was “Am I still a Marine?” I can’t remember the answer they gave me but it was obviously “yes” because I am still a Marine today. Slowly, I became well enough to leave the hospital at USC.
My status as a Marine allowed Wounded Warrior Battalion West to place me in continued care at the VA Palo Alto, where I became inpatient in one of five Polytrauma sites in the nation. Initially my dad was going to quit his job so that he could be with me throughout my recovery process; however, my MoM decided that she would quit her job to allow my dad to continue running his business. He did not finish his college education at Cal Poly Pomona, so my MoM, a business and information systems graduate, told my father to keep his job and she would quit hers since it may be easier for her to get another job. As a result, she has been here at VA Palo Alto.
"The doctors here have the skills to put the puzzle back together but only she knows what the completed puzzle should look like." My MoM has been here every day during and after my therapies until I moved from the D-wing of Polytrauma to the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program (PTRP).
PTRP is about building the skills needed to transition into the community, preparing me to live independently, go to school, and/or return to work. My MoM now comes every weekend and my dad comes every other weekend to be near me. So in a few words, this entire article is simply a “THANK YOU!!!” to my parents.