On a typical December day in Anchorage, Alaska, the sun decides to show itself by about 10:15 am… and goes away before 4 pm. Not even six hours of sunlight. Lack of exposure to sunshine is a documented detriment to human health, leading to vitamin D deficiencies, winter blues, and seasonal affective disorder. But for the 5,500 US Air Force, Army, and civilian personnel at Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson, it’s just another aspect to duty.
About a year ago, Billy Chisum, an Onsite Customer Service Representative at Elmendorf-Richardson for Cardinal Health, had the idea that light therapy might ease the stress for him and his fellow veterans brought on by so little sunlight. “I was in a dark funk and was willing to try anything including vitamin D supplements,” he said. Chisum is a 10-year veteran of the Air Force, having served three combat deployments, and is now active in the veteran community helping others that suffer with MST, PTSD and TBI.
He connected with the Resurrecting Lives Foundation and received a Philips Sleep and Wake-Up Light HF3500 so that he could study it first-hand. Chisum used it from October to April, and found its benefits so remarkable that he was asked by RLF to work on a larger initiative. Through a grant from the Foundation, 20 Philips lights were distributed to veterans in the Elmendorf-Richardson community, with the promise that the effect of the lights on their PTSD/TBI would be recorded and studied for the larger veteran community.
That study is still in process, but initial feedback from the testing veterans is positive.
RLF is focused on easing the way for veterans recovering from TBI, and it appears that plugging in light therapy is another successful way to bring our vets with brain injuries out of the shadows.
Photography by Jason Savage