Right stands Jair Gonzalez my research partner and friend Left stands Lt. Alandrino first class who after years of service committed took his own life to preserve his families fortitude because of the demons he faced he could no longer push on. In August of 2018 Harvard Professor M.D Matthew Miller, M.P.H Jair Gonzalez, and I set out to understand The Psychological Effects of Muscle Rehabilitation. After watching several of our patients succumb to not only their physical but mental injuries. This past January I am happy to report we received an accommodation award and medal from the United States Army Combat Capabilities Development Command and our research was featured at the Army’s-VA’s innovation summit alongside the Veterans Administrations Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. This research will be acting as a guide for re-orienting the veterans administration’s muscle rehabilitation procedures so we can impact the lives of our future soldiers and American hero’s.
Despite the sun glaring down on my face a gloomy shadow blanketed me in darkness. Hearing the 21 gun salute ring in my ears for the first time was deafening, but it did little to muddle the sadness of the crying family. Eventually, I couldn’t tell the difference between the sweat and the tears dripping down my face.
I was at the funeral of Lt. Daniel C this was the first of three funerals. While standing in a crowd of my tears and their lives I was reminded of the true value and purpose of human life.
What I learned from depression and coping with the loss of life. In early August of 2018 until June 2019 I began a research endeavor to understand the “The Psychological Effects of Muscle Rehabilitation Procedures on Veterans Coming Back From Deployment or Combat Zones”. This paper primarily focused on Veteran’s psychology, so I spent many days in the VA gathering research straight from the source. This led me to meet hundreds of veterans. Meeting so many people who had fought and in many ways paid the ultimate sacrifice enlightened me to see not only what it means to be American, but ultimately the implications of pushing oneself both mentally and physically.
My curiosity to understand the human brain and its emotions made me fascinated with the immense powers the mind holds. Understanding the expansiveness of the mind is just the gateway into understanding its capabilities. Spending time at the VA was a way to learn more about the mysteries of the brain, but the veterans weren’t just research subjects. My previous years of work with VA and the hundreds of hours spent seeing and talking to the same people changed me. Over time, numbered subjects became family. And soon I didn’t just want to learn, but to help my family as much as I could.
My deep evolving love of the human bodies diverse abilities opened up pandora’s box for me to understand more than just myself. The interpersonal demons I faced were paralleled by those of my heroes, who faced a different kind of demon.
Over time I immersed myself in military culture understanding soldiers and the unique problems they face. I began developing a bond with the patients I was studying. Due to the ill effects of PTSD and trauma, I slowly saw the soldiers that had once greeted me with a warm embrace fade away.
Understanding PTSD demonstrates a humans fortitude to hide their emotions to maintain their fasade.
While I can reflect on what I learned clinically and could teach about my experience nothing compares to what my soldiers taught me in fortifying my life. Emotions were not only barriers but the only thing that kept my soldiers alive.