Brian Dowd, an Army Special Forces Veteran, was severely injured when on temporary duty in Germany. Upon receiving news of his injuries, Dowd’s wife, Gina, along with their youngest daughter and his parents, traveled to Landstuhl, Germany, to be by his side.

The situation was dire. The military flew Brian to Walter Reed Medical Center, and he began to rapidly improve.

Joanne, Dowd’s mother, said she marveled at the care and attention Brian and his family received from Walter Reed Medical Center, the Army’s Special Forces Support Team and the wounded warriors who were on hand to help.

Dowd recovering in the hospital with the help of his daughter in 2016.

“The level of dedication and commitment was amazing”

Several organizations supported care and commitment to his recovery. Those organizations included the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and Fisher House in Richmond.

Pictured above, Easter 2019 with Brian and Gina and their children

It was at Fisher House where Joanne launched a CaringBridge site for her son. With family and friends around the globe asking for updates, Joanne said CaringBridge was the perfect platform for communicating.

Joanne was the primary writer on Brian’s CaringBridge site. Writing at night, Joanne said, “It was a wonderful process. It helped me stay in the positive, hopeful space I wanted to inhabit. I felt like my job was to try and stay in a positive solid place for Brian and for Gina. CaringBridge became my anchor.”

CaringBridge made our faith and hope stronger

Four years later, Brian is home. His health is restored and he is medically retired from the military. He is employed in a job that uses the skills he acquired in the Army. Joanne still finds it hard to look back at how scary the early months were. She said, “Having the support of everyone around us, as well as on CaringBridge, made our faith and hope stronger. It made it possible for us to believe that miracles happen.”

Many thanks to the Dowd family and CaringBridge. Here is their full story.  

A place of help, hope and healing

CaringBridge provides social and emotional support that is critical for families during hospitalization, treatment and healing. The partnership between VA and CaringBridge helps elevate CaringBridge as a place of help, hope and healing for Veterans, service members, families and their family caregivers.

This year, CaringBridge launched a new Planner Tool available within each CaringBridge site. The Planner makes it easy to digitally request and coordinate help, ranging from transportation to childcare, meals, chores and more. You can learn more here.

Learn more about CaringBridge.


If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, text 838255 or chat online at:

Clairmont Barnes is the associate director of the Partnerships and Community Relations for the VA Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

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Published on Jan. 11, 2021

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