Anatomy of a Movement
History of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation
By Chrisanne Gordon, MD, Founder
In the civilian world, an “incident” is an event that occurs, almost unnoticed, or “incidentally” during the course of a day or a week or a month. The term has much more significance in the military – denoting “a violent event” or “a clash of hostile forces.” On Jan. 9, 2008, an “incident” that occurred in Sinsil, Iraq, thousands of miles from my world, and light years away from my consciousness, affected the direction and purpose of my life. On that date, a friend of mine lost her son, Sgt. Zachary W. McBride, a 20 yr. old Oregonian who had chosen to defray college life and the promise of scholarships, and instead volunteer for the ARMY. The loss of Zachary’s life and 5 of his comrades as they entered a home booby trapped with explosives changed many worlds that day – Here is the story of how this “incident” continues to effect the lives of those heroes who return from war in a way that no one would have predicted, least of all me.
Two weeks after Zachary was KIA (Killed in Action) I placed a call to the local Veterans Administration Hospital, an outpatient clinic near Columbus, Ohio. I was immediately connected to the then chief of staff, who invited me to assist with the returning service personnel who suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of their service in Iraq or Afghanistan. My qualifications as a certified rehabilitation physician coupled with my own survival from a traumatic brain injury made my expertise in demand at a time that the Department of Defense was predicting a surge in brain injuries. For nearly a year I evaluated returning service personnel and Veterans who were experiencing signs and symptoms of mild TBI, the signature wound of these wars. It was during this “tour of duty” at the VA that I realized that the civilian world needed to collaborate with the VA and DOD to rehabilitate and reintegrate these heroes. It was time to educate the communities on the plight of their returning heroes and invite the private sector to become involved with the rehab process of our military members and their families. After all, we not only owed it to them to take care of the wounds of war inflicted on our behalf, but we owed it to ourselves to nurture these future leaders of our nation.
A year after leaving the Veterans Administration, I began capturing the stories of returning heroes throughout the nation in a film, OPERATION RESURRECTION. Knowing that time was of the essence, I produced the film using my own funds, assure that the story would be TRUE to the heroes who participated. A documentary about SOLUTIONS to the TBI reintegration process would be the best way to educate the public on the incredible obstacles facing our returning heroes and, at the same time, enlighten the Veterans on the incredible resources available in the civilian world. We civilians are, after all, 99% of the nation’s population, and therefore represent the 99% solution. Using the courage of several young heroes willing to tell their stories, we explored the solutions for health care delivery, education, and employment. The statistics mandated that we begin this awareness campaign immediately as the statistics revealed the horrific co-morbidities to TBI were claiming lives through substance abuse, incarcerations, unemployment and homelessness, and sadly, suicide. The Movie, OPERATION RESURRECTION was completed in February 2013, and will soon be available to teaching institutions, health care facilities and employers throughout the nation. We are hoping to find a sponsor for television so that all our military members, Veterans, and their families, could learn about the resources available for Traumatic Brain Injury. Our heroes need to know that they are “out of their brains, not out of their minds.”
Several influential members of the national forum viewed the trailer for the documentary in 2011, as it went up on You Tube, and contacted me about starting a foundation to deal directly with the difficulties facing an individual with the most devastating of all injuries, a brain injury. Although I was reluctant at first, selfishly not wanting to spend further retirement funds on this initiative, I acquiesced when I became aware of another fallen hero, SSG Brian F. Piercy, KIA -Afghanistan, July 19, 2010. Brian’s story of sacrifice, like Zachary’s, made my loss of retirement security seem so “incidental.” The groundwork for the Foundation was laid. Our mission is narrow and deep. We will assist the recovery/reintegration of our OIF/OEF Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) by defining the brain pathology and by developing the protocols for recovery. We will advocate for our returning heroes and their families while educating the public about the injuries and co-morbidities associated with a traumatic brain injury.
With the donation of over a hundred hours of legal work, my friend and attorney, Jeff Patter, Esq., wrote and defended the application for our non-profit status. Jeff’s dedication stems from the fact that both his parents served in WWII, and Jeff set the stage for an amazing group of volunteer board members and workers who joined the foundation in its early stages. We received our 501 (c) (3) status on July 28, 2012, and we are determined to attain our mission through volunteerism and donations from our “civilian army” – YOU!
Please view our transparent initiative – Unless otherwise specified in a specific fundraiser initiative, 100% of our donations will be going to direct services for our Veterans or military – either to diagnose or treat the signature wound he/she sustained in fighting for our freedoms. Please view the monthly log of volunteer hours spent by our board members and volunteers. Please join us in this very important grass roots MOVEMENT to assist our returning heroes with getting on with their lives after they’ve offered theirs for us. It is a principle upon which our nation was founded.
To date, we have been contacted by military personnel, Veterans, Military families, and experts in 27 of the 50 states. We are forming our network of collaborations with Military, Veterans Administration, Tertiary hospitals, and community hospitals. We have contacted educators, Congressional members, Senators, and local community leaders to join in this effort. We are collaborating with other Veteran non-profits who are proven to be of substance – donating funds and services directly to the heroes who deserve them. PLEASE join us in our journey. Please be part of the solutions. Please help us honor those who have given their lives for our freedoms. As I noted in January, 2008, the best way that we know to honor those who have fallen, is to care for their brothers and sisters who return. We are NOT just a foundation. We are NOT just a movie. We are a MOVEMENT. Join us – NOW!