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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


TBI: In Her Own Words - Rachel

Women Veterans share their experience - their struggle and recovery - while dealing with a traumatic brain injury.

Women Veterans share their experience - their struggle and recovery - while dealing with a traumatic brain injury.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rachel joined the Army in 2005, where she became an interrogator and a linguist in the Arabic language. Her first TBI occurred only months after joining the Army. She was also suffering from a partially paralyzed left leg, a heart attack, and a brain tumor.

Rachel finally left the military in 2008 and began planning her wedding, but shortly after, she suffered another TBI. The trauma resulted in her face being crushed, which had to be reconstructed.

Then a third TBI occurred in 2011 when she lost her balance and slammed her head into the corner of a bathroom counter.

"I had to relearn many things and the doctors told me there were many more things I would never do again. Pins, plates, and hundreds of stitches later, the journey to recovery had just begun," said Rachel.

Today, Rachel is an advocate for women who have survived traumatic brain injuries and speaks publicly to bring awareness to these "invisible injuries." She realized her story is no longer just her story but a lifeline; a message of hope and courage to lend to people in crisis or difficulty.

Watch Rachel's video

"In Her Own Words," a three-day workshop inviting women who have experience with traumatic brain injury (TBI) to share their stories, was a collaborative effort with the VAPAHCS Polytrauma System of Care, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, the Center for Digital Storytelling, and Stanford University. The VA Palo Alto website has launched a public awareness series, releasing one video story per week from this project. The series follows a recent seminar (view photos from the seminar) held for VA health care providers and community members called "Women Veterans, Brain Injury and Trauma," where all four videos were debuted.


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