In recent decades Veterans are surviving more multiple serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury, paralysis and blindness. In response to their need, VA created a program called Polytrauma.

Doctors, physical and recreation therapists, nurses, and others in these units have expertise that is unique to VA, expertise earned from long experience treating patients recovering from two or more of these serious injuries simultaneously.

Some of these Veterans and one of the doctors leading the program joined us to share their experiences.

Aubrey

Aubrey

When I was injured, I completely severed my spinal column at the T10 level. So, from the belly button down, I have no control or movement, no feeling. So, I’m part of the spinal cord unit.

Jason

We turned on a main road and got hit by an IED. Because my Achilles tendon got severed, I had to keep my leg elevated. I just was worried about not being able to walk again, really.

Jason

Josh

Between October to March 15th, when I had gotten medivac’d out, I had been hit eight different times.

Ken

What I had the most difficult time with was my head injury. I had a great memory, but since the car bombing and the head injury, that’s been a nightmare.

Dr. Scott

Ken

The beginning part of the war, we started seeing blast injuries that came from the war theater, with burns, amputations, head injuries, loss of eyesight, loss of hearing. We started a whole new program of rehabilitation. We changed the focus of rehabilitation from one problem to multiple problems, what we call polytrauma. And with that approach we’ve been able to revolutionize care for the injured coming back – and have gotten outstanding results from this program.

Jason

The polytrauma program was pretty good. I did it as an outpatient, because I lived locally. Basically, it just works on the different situations to help you with your memory – memory cues – and just trying to learn more about traumatic brain injuries and how it affects you.

Josh

We would work on ways of how to help me communicate better or remember things better. They’d actually have me in one room, they’d be in another room, and they’d call me on the phone and then force me to write down notes and stuff.

Josh

Dr. Scott

It’s not just research to see what is wrong with head injuries or spinal cord. We’re trying to find ways to improve their lives, and in many ways, to allow them to go back and live more normal lives.

Dr. Scott

Josh

VA was instrumental in helping me get my life back together.

Ken

People are choosing VA over other great health care systems because it is the place to go now. I’m proud to say, come to the VA. Why would you go anywhere else? That’s a mistake.

Apply for VA health care

Enrolling for VA health care is easier than ever before. Explore your eligibility today at www.choose.va.gov/health.

By Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for VA's National Veterans Outreach Office

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Published on Mar. 17, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.7 min.

Views to date: 1,305

2 Comments

  1. Daniel Jacobs March 25, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Garry, I just finished reading your comments on your health issues. I had to hold back the tears when I made it about half way through it. I do understand your situation very intimately. Although my experience was not with the VA but with civilian health care. I believe everything you said in your message. I went in with extreme pain from a number of things, the most pressing was a large kidney stone. The doctor wouldn’t listen to me when I told her it was pain from a kidney stone. I pushed for my own referral and a doctor that could do the kidney stone surgery. He perforated my Ureter and that opened me up to all sorts of terrible situations. Acute Sepsis was one of them. I spent many hours in the E/R and many days in the hospital. I learned that Sepsis is the fastest killing disease on the planet. And I can confirm that. I was on every type of pain medication the doctors had available and a lot of it too. I had tubes sticking out of me for months on end. I was in constant and severe pain for 5 months. I understand how doctors can make mistakes as they are human and when they chose to not be accountable for their mistakes, that is inexcusable. The medical bills charged to Tricare came to about $450,000.00. All one can do is go to another doctor and hope they are compassionate and willing to help. Most are not these days due to being overworked and underpaid. Sad but true. You are correct about how prayers do help. I know this to be true. I’m happy for you that you have hope and that you have survive with that abundance of hope in your faith. My wife was my champion during my struggles. She is the reason I’m still living. I want to encourage you in your struggles and will pray for you Garry, be blessed. Daniel Jacobs

  2. Garry price March 18, 2022 at 8:52 pm

    Routine Colonoscopy at VA almost killed me.

    It happened on Jan 24th, 2021

    It took me 415 days to prove they punctured my colon. The way my surgeon described it was “Lethal “.

    Starting the Healing process is something I’ve looked forward to for a very long time. When you loose parts of your large intestine and gallbladder there is nothing easy about healing.

    It has been a tuff time in my life.

    Finding comfort is a difficult thing to find. My wife, who has her own health issues has been my arm. She has done it all and shone me what Humanity and the
    Godly Wife who has nursed me with Love and kindness. She’s my Angle and my Rock through living a Christian Marriage!

    Thank you Janine!

    The abdomen is like a out of control farting and diarrhea up until the last 2 days. I’m gaining on the control and trying to learn to read what every sound that comes through me and control it until I have privacy to take care of the problem. Right now that ability to have confidence is gaining.

    Pain is constant in specific in areas. One is still sore.

    They cleaned my system of toxins with a cocktail of drips for 2 days before surgery.

    I believe in this medical team at Northeastern Health Systems in Tahlequah Oklahoma. I take my hat off and Salute Dr. Meyer and his team. They put Love in their work and they imparted it inside my body. Thank All of you that took part in saving my life.
    I gave it to God to do His well and felt in good hands.

    Here I’m, ha, can you believe it. Prayers work.

    I’m a very blessed man with my family’s Love.

    I’ve looked up cases it’s like 70% died within 72 hours from a bowl perforated during a colonoscopy. There are recorded cases I’ve found that where people like me survived months and even years before succumbing to the injury. Some how my body battle along with a high tolerance for pain and I endured and I carried this wound inside me for 415 days.

    This happened at the VA in Muskogee OK during a Routine colonoscopy.
    During the colonoscopy I woke up from the Anesthesia because of the pain that was inflicted upon me. I looked down and saw this blunt object under my flesh that stood out from my body about 6 inches. Looking past this thing on my right side of my body, pointing down my leg was a enraged doctor that was obviously out of control. There was supposed to be video of the whole process. It’s Gone!

    Within 2 weeks I knew I was in trouble and It left nothing to doubt in my mind as to what had happened to me. I was the victim of and attack with a surgical instrument. I woke up and could clearly see that it was pushing outward toward my right thigh. An behind it was the doctor and he was in raged. He almost killed me.

    This is what this was like.
    Imagine someone put a Grenade in your belly an pull the pin 3/4’s the way out. Then you put another factor that you the only one that knows it’s there. And no one would believe you and even test hide it because it’s not what they should have been looking for even though I told them.

    This is 100% True and Documented.

    I went to the VA constantly trying to get one person to understand what had happened to me.
    I requested help by emailing my doctors and nurses at the VA 32 times and my plea’s for help went without being recognizing as a true issues. To try and shut me up the doctor would run needless test. Most of the time the results were ignored anyway. Because it was relative and wouldn’t recognize the tears in my colon anyway.

    Read the messages I sent them! I begged to look for the right thing. I was told repeatedly that I wasn’t a doctor and to stop pretending I know anything. Dr Thien. The doctor before him, Dr Muel was more direct, he told me if I didn’t like how he took care of me to go find someone else!

    I went to the ER’s 3 times for help and was shown the door because I have severe arthritis along with 3 joint replacements and 6 vertebrae that are supported with screws, bars and plates and I take pain meds that cause constipated. So it was actually laughed at by ER staff at more then one location. He’s just full of it.
    The gallbladder was also making me very sick. This gallbladder had made me Ill for years without being recognized. The fact is that the VA always looked in the wrong direction an let illness’s continue.

    I can’t believe the relief it is to finally know why my body was on fire from the gallbladder and the torn colon pain.

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