New Brain Wellness Program for Veterans and First Responders Coming to Jacksonville – Action News Jax
JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Studies show that of the 400,000 veterans diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, 15 to 20 percent of them live with persistent symptoms.
These invisible wounds affect every part of their lives and often their families as well.
But life changing help is on the way. Action News Jax Anchor Tenikka Hughes found out about a new brain health center coming to Jacksonville and has teamed up to make it happen.
Natalie Marcano-Sidberry is a case manager at the Women’s Veterans Center in northeast Florida.
She said, “I help female veterans and with things like rent assistance, utility assistance, housing, help with financing repairs, counseling, clothing, food, and anything else they need to improve themselves.
“Her service to others spanned 11 years as an Operations Specialist in the US Navy from 1995-2006.
Marcano-Sidberry said: “I specialize in Squiggle and Alpha, that’s the harpoon.”
Marcano-Sidberry was injured at work in the late 1990s.
She said, “I fell through two decks on the Scuttles and injured my head.”
A few years later, she said he suffered another injury on another ship in Japan.
Marcano-Sidberry said: “We just tested the equipment and it hurt me. So that was the second head injury. “
Marcano-Sidberry said, “She has dealt with debilitating migraines for years with no answers as to the cause.”
Then they sent sudden vision problems back to the VA in Jacksonville when she said an ophthalmologist had sounded the alarm.
Marcano-Sidberry said, “He looked me in the eye and said your orbital nerves are extremely swollen. And he recommended I go to the emergency room, I go to the emergency room, and four hours later I had an operation because I had a condition called IIH, where the fluid in your brain stays up and doesn’t come down.
She was eventually diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, or TBI, more than a decade after she left the service. She was prescribed 12 different drugs.
“There were a lot of things I couldn’t do with my children because the pain was so intense. Sometimes I forget things. I felt like it was messing up my memory. “
Retired Four Star Air Force General Robin Rand is the CEO of the Gary Sinise Foundation.
General Rand said, “Remember that many of our people with TBI also experience post-traumatic stress.”
Rand added, “They have insomnia, physical pain, and headaches. So there are many things that have meant that the right medication alone will not take care of it. “
Founded in 2011 by actor and humanist Gary Sinise, the organization works to serve veterans and first responders dealing with traumatic brain injury, PTSD and substance abuse.
General Rand said, “Our goal is to make your tomorrow better than it is today.”
Located near the corner of 8th Street West and Boulevard Street in Jacksonville, this building will host the UF Health Brain Wellness Program, made possible by a $ 12.5 million grant from the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Avalon Network.
Action News Jax took a look inside the ongoing construction work. It is one of 20 locations that the foundation plans to establish across the country.
The facility will provide more than 12,000 square feet of care and therapy for veterans and first responders. It is supposed to open in autumn.
Army Reserve Colonel and Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Sorna is the medical director of the program. He says they will take a holistic approach.
“We are conducting a comprehensive three-day investigation that includes psychiatry, neurology, neuropsychology, physiotherapy, language, language and pharmacy pathology.”
If accepted into the program, the intensive three-week outpatient treatment includes the same specialties – plus things like yoga, art therapy, acupuncture, and even therapy with horses and dogs; all free for the veterans and first responders.
Dr. Sorna said, “We hope that connections will be made during this treatment process and that this high-intensity format will help these veterans resolve their symptoms and move their lives forward.”
Marcano-Sidberry hopes to participate.
She said, “This is absolutely great. Contrasted with just rolling to the bedside table and taking medication. Then you’re out. You cannot work, you cannot have a life with your friends and family. That’s why I think a holistic approach is excellent. “
Dr. Sorna says once the veterans complete the three-week outpatient treatment, veterans of the program will work with local doctors and veterans groups to monitor their progress.
They are looking for veterans and first responders who can sign up for treatment in the fall.
To receive a rating for participating in the program, you can call or email UF Health. That number is (904) 244-3289. The email address is [email protected]
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