NON SIBI SED PATRIAE
Over 4 million veterans of the United States Armed Forces live with a service-connected disability, with over 1 million indicating ratings on the severity of one’s disability at 70% or higher. For many of the veterans living with a disability, especially those who have lost limbs, burn victims, and victims of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), their ability to exercise, overall level of physical fitness, and thus, overall quality of life and perceived quality of life, is greatly affected in a negative manner. The Department of Veterans Affairs has greatly improved its rehabilitation treatment strategies and practices and continues to employ methods of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) and bolster programs like Federal Advanced Amputation Skills Training (FAAST). Unfortunately, there is still a need to extend rehabilitation services beyond basic functional ability and technological assistance.
Combat veterans by decision making, training, chance and exposure, adopt what can be described as a “warrior’s mentality.” Anecdotally, a warrior’s mentality, once created, is nearly impossible to subdue even upon formal discharge from military services. If properly harnessed and applied, this mentality can fuel great success in the civilian sector for these veterans. In addition, these veterans who having been removed from war, often struggle to find purpose, which greatly supports the need for, appropriate and professionally supervised exercise programs.
A fitness-based, secondary rehabilitation program focusing on strength training and return-to-play therapy can help veterans regain confidence and once again achieve their warrior’s mentality. This program will provide veterans the ability to achieve their goals in a safe environment. The veterans will be ready and able to perform at a physical level that will essentially render their injuries negligible in comparison to their uninjured counterparts. Furthermore, the program is intended to ultimately remove the physical and psychological separation between veterans living with physical disabilities and the civilian society into which they must be reintegrated.
I have begun collaborating with a team of physical therapists, athletic trainers, and other professionals to make this program a reality. I have received a great deal of interest from local healthcare facilities, the local VA Medical Center, and from several veterans’ organizations. We have started writing a proposal for a VA VISN grant which will fund research that further establishes the need for the Run Phase program and validates our proposed processes. We plan to write, propose, and complete two research programs during my tenure at USC’s DPT program, after which we will be ready to launch the full Run Phase program in its own facility, and employ a staff to put the research into practice. This final step will require the application for the VA’s Adaptive Sports Grant, which can total over $500,000.
Once Run Phase is in full operation, I intend to dedicate my life to its operation, expansion, and success.
-Brooks R. Herring, PT, DPT, CSCS, CSPS, TSAC-F
U.S. Navy Veteran
Chairman, Board of Directors