WWII Marine Veteran Corporal Louis Mamula Dies at 96

WWII Marine Veteran Corporal Louis Mamula Dies at 96

Another of the “Greatest Generation” has passed from us. Louis Mamula, grandfather of RLF supporter Brian Mamula, died on June 29. He was 96.

Louis, from Universal, Pennsylvania, lived in Lowellville, Ohio for most of his life, and was a 1940 graduate of Lowellville High School. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and married Novella Leardi before shipping out to World War II’s Pacific Theater in 1942. Corporal Mamula fought at Guadalcanal and Tarawa as a member of the 2nd Division, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine, Company B, and received two Presidential Unit Citations with two Bronze Stars.

An articulate warrior, Louis was selected to record an oral history account of his experiences for Quantico’s Marine Corps Archives and Library, and was featured in 2014, along with his fellow survivors, in ”The Heroes of Tarawa,” an episode of the documentary series “Against the Odds” from the American Heroes Channel. In this episode, he describes his experiences coming ashore in the “rubber boat battalion” during the horrific Battle of Tarawa and talks movingly about his fellow Marines who gave their all.

Following the end of the war, Louis worked in the Ohio steel mills and as an upholsterer, and as a school crossing guard and custodian. But he remained devoted to his fellow Marines, especially those who didn’t make it home – the true heroes, in his mind. Late in life he devoted much time and energy to lob

With his wife Novella, Louis raised 6 children, who in turn raised 17 of their own. The Mamula family was inspired by Louis’ military tradition, and have been strong supporters of Resurrecting Lives Foundation for many years. Their support for today’s injured heroes, rallied by Louis’s grandson Brian, has extended from online fundraising campaigns to marathon-running to raise money, and even a split from an office pool during an NCAA tournament.

“The good Lord knows what he’s doing with me,” Louis said in a 2014 interview with the Youngstown Vindicator. “I have no idea.” Clearly, his legacy includes a large and generous family.

Corporal Mamula received military honors at his funeral, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.



WWII U.S. Navy Veteran and RLF Supporter Stanley Ryckman passes away at 94

WWII U.S. Navy Veteran and RLF Supporter Stanley Ryckman passes away at 94

Ensign Stanley Jack Ryckman (Ret.) passed away in June at the age of 94.

A resident of Mansfield, Ohio, Mr. Ryckman was born in Michigan and was commissioned in the US Navy in 1942. He served as an officer in the South Pacific during World War II. Following the war, he earned an engineering degree at the University of Michigan and spent 40 years as an electrical engineer. After his retirement, Mr. Ryckman focused on community involvement. He was a member of Amvets Post #26 of Mansfield, Ohio, which has been a vibrant partner with Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

His son, Dr. Stu Ryckman, former Richland County Coroner, was particularly active in the Sons of Amvets group at the post. Along with Amvets Post #26, Stu and his wife, Susie, have been with RLF since our inception.

At the age of 89, Mr. Ryckman accompanied Dr. Ryckman, a member of the RLF Board of Advisors, to Washington DC, to support the Congressional screening of the documentary Operation Resurrection. The 2013 event was attended by dozens on Capitol Hill. Mr. Ryckman and a number of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan attended in order to raise the awareness of military TBI. He was the senior military member present.

The Ryckman family has generously requested that memorial contributions in his memory be made to RLF.

We are most grateful for the ardent support of the Ryckman family, and salute the memory of Mr. Stanley Ryckman.


RLF partner STIHL thanks America in a unique way

RLF partner STIHL thanks America in a unique way

STIHL America’s Virginia Beach facility issued this exceptional Independence Day greeting to America-

STIHL has long been a supporter of veterans and a partner with Resurrecting Lives Foundation. In January, they recognized 6 of our veteran ambassadors as part of their Hearts of STIHL program for the vets’ “spirit of power, dedication, and service.”

We salute STIHL and thank all of their employees for their support.

The Power of Pause

The Power of Pause

Chrisanne Gordon, MD, has published an op-ed piece titled “A timely pause can save your life,” in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, released on June 12, in which she cautions us to step away from our fast-paced lives to take a breath, much like a video gamer presses the “pause” button. “Our physical lives might not be so easy to pause as a video game is, but the game of life has much higher stakes for the gamer and for their survivors,” she says. “A brief timeout can make all the difference in overcoming, instead of succumbing, to the next set of challenges life throws at you.”

Read the full text of her impactful message at:




Golf to Support RLF!

Mark your calendars for the annual Resurrecting Lives Foundation Charity Golf Outing, sponsored by Cardinal Health, on August 26 at the Golf Club of Dublin (Ohio).

All proceeds raised go to RLF’s self-sustaining funding model. Last year the event raised more than $35,000 for our programs. You can be part of the fun – sign-up forms are below.

Word Form is here.
PDF Form is here.

It takes a village to heal a soldier

Remy Hilchey

It takes a village to heal a soldier

Remy Hilchey is in the healing professions. She chose the speech therapy path for the impact she could have on others, especially on veterans. But she also has the ability to see the broader picture and to look at therapy differently.

“This work really fell into my lap as a speech therapist at hospitals and VA clinics,” she says. Her eyes were opened when she started working with vets with TBI or PTSD. “The traditional stuff we were doing was not working. These veterans are young, they have their whole lives ahead of them – but have all these underlying issues. We tried to find a way to reach out to this audience.”

The VA can be great, but the experiences of a vet with TBI or PTSD can be very difficult, she admits. “We created a family and support system for them and their families, who didn’t understand what was going on. Unlike in a stroke or a severe brain injury, where the wounds and physical effects are visible, you can’t see this one inside the brain – how scary that can be!”
Remy and her colleagues focused on that – the invisible wound and the families who wanted to help and understand but didn’t know how. The therapy team examined what was missing from the lives of these young veterans with their whole lives ahead of them, and reached out to caring groups in the community.

“We got connected with them,” says Remy, “and were able to take the vets out to do some things in the community. Getting back to activity is so important for them. This was a way to bring families back together again, make them whole again, go back to being a family again – and not have a life of therapy- therapy- therapy.”

Remy’s team looked for alternative, active things to do, and found activities like horse riding or scuba diving very helpful and healing. “This helped our vets to work on sequencing and memory in a practical way – they needed to relearn those skills in order to be successful at the activity. It comes down to them – if they really want to get better, they will.”

Along with another speech therapist colleague, Remy also developed a model for TBI-injured veterans to prepare for the academic world. In the book Turn the Lights On, by Chrisanne Gordon, MD, Remy says, “There are always a variety of abilities affected because people with PTSD and TBI have different sets of strengths and weaknesses, both before the injury and after, but overall the general issues are: attention deficits, memory issues, nightmares, pain, sadness, guilt, and frustration.” Targeting these issues with different kinds of therapy aimed at different strengths and weaknesses is key to success.

Remy also notes that these vets certainly have their own demons, and sometimes families don’t understand this and they unwittingly get in the way. For example, the family may not understand jokes made by the TBI/PTSD sufferer. “Yes,” she says, “their humor is a little twisted, but the lives they led were twisted.”

The biggest obstacle to TBI recovery, she thinks, is when vets and families alike don’t acknowledge the demons. “Families should be supportive, and try not to treat the veteran like a child. It takes a lot to get through this, so we work together to give them the tools.”

Remy’s pragmatic, tailored, and energetic approach to therapy has reaped results. “I’m really proud,” she says, “of a lot of my guys and gals – many of them have taken the skills they learned and went out and are graduating, one at the VA doing his internship, getting a Master’s degree as a dietician, another a nurse, another assembly man- it makes it all worth it.”

Remy’s role in Jarid’s journey has been both as a therapist and then as a significant other. “Being on both sides has been interesting,” she says. “On the relational side, I understood what was happening with Jarid, could support him as he worked through options.”

Remy is no longer with the VA, working through the next chapter of her life as she expands a private practice and continues her caring and healing, wanting to get the word out that veterans with TBI and PTSD can get diagnosis, treatment, and healing – a road back to a full and fulfilling life. As a family member and as a care provider, she has participated firsthand in the miracle of recovery.

Gray Matter Innovations poised to take digiceuticals for TBI/PTSD to the next level

Digital health, digital therapy, digiceuticals: evolving terminology which all refer to “software that can improve a person’s health as much as a drug can, but without the same cost and side-effects,” according to a 2017 article in the MIT Technology Review.

In fact, Gray Matter Innovations (GMI), created in 2017 by RLF founder and chair Chrisanne Gordon, MD, believes that treatment of TBI/PTSD via technology is the way to go. “I want to make sure the nation understands that TBI is a brain issue, not a mind issue,” she said in a recent interview for Rev1 Ventures #Startup Buzz blog. “The solution is to reboot the brain with digital therapy.”

GMI is gaining steam this year, focusing on using virtual reality (VR) to treat mild to moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI) aspects affecting vision, balance, and comprehension. In April the company participated in PitchfestNW, a startup competition held annually in the Northwestern US as a part of the TechfestNW conference. Pitchfest invites a diverse group of startup businesses to pitch their companies to a panel of venture capital (VC) investors. While GMI didn’t win the 2018 competition, they did grab attention in the VC and small business world.

Virtual reality is defined by Dictionary.Com as “a realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by movement of the body.” VR was first used in gaming, and in that context is quite familiar to the current generation of military members. Now, the applications of VR are multiplying, and adopting it for therapy for an injured brain is a logical next step.
While VR has been used therapeutically for PTSD, and is cited in research on assessment and clinical interventions for TBI, practical applications have been few and far between. As costs of the technology continue to drop, it’s expected that the use of VR as therapy will expand.
“After interviewing hundreds of veterans with TBI and their families, I joined forces with a software development engineer to bring TBI rehab to the veterans in their homes,” Gordon said. “This is coincidental to the 2018 Mission Act, signed into law by President Trump in early June to bring health care to the veterans in their communities.”

GMI continues to make progress in developing its technology base, with aims for a September pilot in Columbus.
“Nearly 750,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have been affected by structural changes in the brain, TBI, or chemical changes in the brain, PTSD, as a result of their service to our nation,” GMI declares on its website.

“The cost of untreated TBI can be devastating…. Technology can retrain and regenerate the brain, and empower the warrior to lead the charge on rehab.”



From the Board

Brigadier General (Ret.) Gerald Dieter Griffin, MD, PharmD
BG Griffin (Ret.) served 41 ½ years in the US Army after completing medical and clinical pharmacy/pharmacology degrees and a residency in emergency medicine. Dr. Griffin currently serves as an ER physician in Pacific Grove, California with over 31 years of experience in clinical and basic research as well as in clinical medicine. In addition to his medical practice he conducts clinical research on traumatic brain injury (TBI) and consults with various biotechnology companies. He is the author of numerous publications on TBI and PTSD. In addition to sitting on the Board of advisors for Resurrecting Lives Foundation, he also sits on the scientific advisory board of the Geneva Foundation, a non-profit that advances innovative medical research and excellence in education within the U.S. military.

After two deployments in war-time Iraq, he met up with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). This is his story.

My friend PTS(D) and me……..by Gerald (Jerry) Griffin, MD

I was privileged to go to war twice in Iraq………the first time was in 1991, when I was sent to work in the ER at Landstuhl Medical Center, and I cared for the patients coming to us from that war- Desert Shield initially and then Desert Storm, abbreviated DS/DS. It was a busy time- more war wounded than were reported in the press and lots of trauma. That phase of the war – Desert Storm- was over quickly and we were looking to rotating out and home soon!

Well, being a critically shortage specialist (ER/62A) emergency medicine kind of doc, I was kept longer. And after a few weeks of seeing routine sick call patients medevacced from the war zone (only the previously injured and trauma/wounded patients still in the treatment chain on the path to LRMC) we looked forward to some R&R……..not!!!

After a day of relative ER ease, I was asked to come to the operations ‘shed’ for an info session… hmmmmm…what is going on (or down?)…. Why do they need to talk to an ER doc?……. And so in short order I was told I was on orders as the senior doc on a special mission to Iraq!!!!…… Ohh…oy veh…!! ….Really?… Who chose me? ….well…the CG of 7th MedCom in Heidelberg……….. gee thanks…. and so, in rapid succession I and other team mates from LRMC were driven to Wuerzburg, Germany MEDDAC to meet up with other members of the team from all over USAREUR, and an in depth brief by the Division Surgeon & USAREUR Operation Provide Comfort Team. We were to go to the Turkish-Iraq border in Silopi, Turkey, and into Iraq daily to support the Kurds as they came from the hills to where they had escaped from Sadam and his genocidal killers… and back to Turkey at night because it was too dangerous to stay there after dark…. (I sensed a lot of ‘discomfort, at least for us…) Off to Vilseck to pick up more medics and the Charley Co from the 1st Bgde, 3rd ID admin & support structure, and to Ramstein for the flight to Incirlik Airbase (Adana), Turkey.

We were briefed by a team in Incirlik on the situation and mission update, and completed passport stuff and Turkish requirements. Two days later we were issued more stuff just before we boarded a bus to drive overnight to Diyarbakir, Turkey, a NATO airbase as a base of operations with many other NATO and UN partners on the same mission. We were not alone and became a part of a NATO/UN Rapid Response Force (to what I had no clue….)! We stayed at Dyarbakir airbase for about a week, could not go to Silopi, Turkey, right by the Iraq border because the Turks had locked us down. We missed our first mission- to provide medical care and support to the Kurds who escaped to the hills between Turkey and Iraq to avoid being killed by Sadam and his armies……we were stuck! Eventually I got our group to Silopi with “backhaul” on the US choppers that landed there. We repacked all of our “stuff”- a duffle bag of ammo weighs a lot!

And so, we finally came to Silopi, Turkey as our “home base” for the moment. We were welcomed warmly by the 7th MedCom folks there, albeit about a week late! Our mission had now changed, since the Kurds were being trucked thru Turkey into Iraq, with still many left on the road in Iraq coming out of the hills needing care and support. Now we were to go into Iraq and provide “way station medicine” to those Kurds on the road home from the mountains.

We were flown to a mountaintop in Iraq by a US Army Chinook, and left there, to wait for contact with our new battle buddies- the British Royal Marine Commandos! Well, imagine being dropped in a war zone off a chopper, with no commo, no food, no maps and told only “wait where we dropped you off- the Brits will find you”!! …Oh well…… This was all 10th SF Group territory and so we felt reasonably “safe”— not!! A firefight broke out between 2 Peshmerga groups only about 200 yards from us, and the chopper took off- just popped on out of there, and flipped me in the air about 35 feet, with all of my TA50 on. I landed on my head and neck and was “cold-cocked”……… I was out, and woke up a few minutes later. I heard lots of small arms fire, and my NCO says “welcome back -we need to know what to do!” Well, I said, through a rummy state, “let’s just stay close to ground, and not get engaged— let them fight it out, and we will not do anything!” Less than an hour before we were dropped off, the US had dropped food pallets for the Kurds, and the groups arriving there were fighting over the food! A serious food fight! It was over in about a half hour, and they left after figuring out how to get their food. We were in total quiet! It was actually quite a beautiful place!

In exploring the area, we found an outpost/observation post that the Iraqis had used to call in fire and poison gas onto the Kurds as they fled into the hills!! Worse than that, we found used NBC Kits, used Benadryl and antidote syringes, used gas masks in the outpost— we now knew that Sadam had attacked and gassed his own soldiers even as they called helicopter fire in on the fleeing Kurds! Recall that the no-fly zone included only jets and bombers- but choppers could fly! And that Sadam had plenty of choppers and weapons plus wmds!

The Brits finally found us, and took us to their encampment down the hill- this was camping at its finest, and what the Army called “austere” environment. Not to mention that we were frontally attacked by another Peshmerga/Kurdish rebel group……what fun! And so, we were in this hot free-fire zone for about a week, giving first aid to the Kurdish civilians as they left the mountains for their villages. We could not give them too much, because then they wanted to stay and live with us! So, it was a “bandaid and water” and off you go!

The next week we were all flown further into Iraq by RAF choppers to Begova, a ruined and destroyed village. But, not as totally demolished as the mountain village of Nazdur from where we just came.

We were visited by a US CSM in Zakho, where my team met briefly with the Charley company we were loosely attached to from Vilseck & 3rd ID. He told us that their team had left the area, and that we were the only Americans in that war theater left! He also said that we were to qualify for the Combat Medical Badge if providing care under fire on mission with an infantry unit, a combat patch and tax-free combat pay! A hell of a deal! Back in Begova, we settled into a routine of seeing hundreds of patients daily since the word got out that the Americans had set up a “hospital” and that American doctors can fix anything! …Hmmmm…… We were surrounded by small arms fire and machine gun bursts often daily, and were machine gunned mixed with tracers at night…. the tracers helped to see where that fire was coming from. The Brits went after them, but no luck in finding this enemy! We settled into an uncomfortable but ‘routine’ life….

On the last day of May, 1991, my clinic was surrounded and overrun by a marauding Shiite group from a Shiite army that had infiltrated the area to kill all the Kurds and take over the Begova Valley. And the local Kurdish tribe was not sharing their food with them! They robbed us, took all of our supplies and held me prisoner for over a half day in a separate tent, away from my medic and British medic/ Commando in the 50-foot-away triage tent. After not allowing them to shoot and kill my patients and the visiting family by putting my arms around them and protecting them, I was rifle-butted from behind onto concertina barbed wire, sustained deep lacerations on my hands while protecting my face. The patients and family members used that distraction to run away. I was taken to the tent from which the patients escaped and I was interrogated, tortured, with a gun held to my head and a machine gun aimed at me from the small pickup that came with them…..repetitive hits to my head with a rifle barrel…… choked into unconsciousness…… hands and head bleeding, in pain, I thought I was going to die….. long story short, I bargained with them to allow me and my assistant doctors (medics) to pack up more supplies and they could come for us in the morning….. they agreed to this, and left! I/we ran to our compound about 400 meters away and told the Brits. They immediately loaded up the rest of our team, and my NCO and I stayed to finish loading up the ambulance so we could leave under heavy guard the next a.m. We did this and almost got caught….. but….. that’s another story!

And so, we arrived at the Zakho US Charley Company base camp. I was exhausted, shaking, because I was finally out of harm’s way! I was alive! I fell asleep for 20 hours! Upon awakening, Sam (NCO) and I talked……. C Company was leaving for Incirlik the next day- the Operation Provide Comfort Headquarters had ended our mission and ordered all Americans out of the theater including those of us with the Brits on Operation Gallant Haven! And so, my ‘kids’ (medics, nurses, docs, etc) left; I stayed because the Brits came for me again for a special mission- a LRP…….that is another story….. I left the safety of Zakho and went back to Begova. I suppressed all fear, all fright and personal concerns, and went on…. my body’s wounds were healing well, not certain about my mind?

And so, we forward to my second trip to Iraq—

I was the ER Doc & Triage Officer for a combat support hospital in Mosul, Iraq. Bad place, but, as the good folks from USUHS say, “We provide good medicine in bad places”! And Mosul in 2004 was plenty bad… mass casualties most days…… bad serious trauma and many of “my kids” (soldiers) killed or maimed, our hospital attacked and mortared on a daily basis. I was sent to Balad to the hospital to help in the ER with the injured from the Fallujah battles. After 6 weeks, I had severe problems: I had not slept for weeks, I was shaking badly, could not hold a cup of coffee, brittle psyche, broke into tears spontaneously because I was ashamed that I was becoming useless, could not do my job. My friend, a psychiatrist, saw me deteriorating and told me, “You need me! Come with me!” and he took me away to a safe room, and shrunk the holy crap out of me— he took me down to baseline, and rebuilt me over about a 4 hour period. He gave me some meds, and I slept for the first time in weeks — NO nightmares! He was there when I awoke; we talked, and I felt better than I had in months! I started taking the meds daily, and slept well, and after a week or so, I could go back to work and was in control! I felt good…. my acute episode with PTSD was over- mostly – but I still had reminders…….

I learned much about PTSD, having had it, still have it, but it is controlled; it helped me to learn about myself, to learn about others with this normal response to an abnormal event. But I made a serious error: I did not seek help or care for the first episode after my capture in 1991 long ago, and it came back stronger when more abnormal things happened to me again! My psychiatrist friend gave me the formal “PTSD, acute exacerbation from wartime/combat events” and helped me to know and become a friend to PTSD, and to myself. I now know myself better…….. my “old” friend PTSD is still by my side, but I am in charge……….. HOOAH!


“You have to have the determination to do it…”

Jarid Hilchey

“You have to have the determination to do it…”

His world changed when he hit an explosive in Iraq. From that moment to today, with a post-military career and an avocation of helping veterans, Jarid Hilchey has been traveling a long road.

Jarid served in the Army for 21 years, but in 2006 his Humvee hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq, sending him flying up and backwards. He hit his head first on the vehicle’s computer monitor, then on the Humvee roll bar. He was dazed for a bit – didn’t really know what had happened – and then was plunged into a firefight. Just another war-time incident.

Jarid says he didn’t think much of it at the time, just went right back and did his job. That’s what soldiers do. He subsequently experienced a few other roadside bombs; he says he was around a lot of blasts over the years. Jarid confessed to some memory issues at the time but stayed with his profession.

He was deployed in Iraq twice – once for a year, then for 15 months; following that, he was deployed to Afghanistan. Finally stateside, he made the move into Army recruiting. Fresno, California – home for him – was his first choice.

“When I got there, my PTSD started acting up really bad- anger and anxiety,” Jarid said. “I went to the Palo Alto VA for TBI screening; they sent me to the Fresno VA and put me in touch with Remy,” initially for speech therapy.

Remy, a therapist at the Fresno VA, was branching out beyond strictly speech therapy, working with a colleague to develop a program specifically targeted for combat veterans with TBI or PTSD. She helped unlock the doors to other therapy aspects for Jarid, therapy that relies on physical activity and community, not just treatment isolated to a clinical setting. The physical activity was a huge motivator for Jarid.

“A lot of the treatment I received,” says Jarid, “being at the horse ranch, scuba diving, and so on, has allowed me to find myself. I’ve always been a firm believer that in order to change how your mind reacts to triggers, you have to put your life back in your own hands – you have to take responsibility for it.” He did that, relishing his days on the horse or in his scuba gear. The activities brought him back to himself and a sense of accomplishment. “When you have your own life in your hands, your mental concentration takes control and all of those things that haunt you fade away for the time being.”
Jarid notes that the biggest obstacle to his recovery was dealing with the everyday memories and nightmares. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what happened. It’s one struggle after another; things that I see or hear trigger flashbacks and nightmares,” he says. “The biggest struggle is when my anger comes out towards my wife and my daughter. I know that a trigger happened – I know what’s coming, but once it starts I can’t stop it.” But he has learned strategies to help him manage. “With me, now I recognize when certain things are about to happen and for the most part I do keep it maintained, but there are those times when my wife has to reel me in.” With this new control, Jarid has moved on to new chapters in his life.

He’s very proud of where he’s at right now. “A lot of guys I know have gone down the wrong road,” says Jarid, “or gone in a different direction, like going to college.” Jarid medically retired from the Army after 21 years, took the California real estate exam, and is now helping others – especially veterans – get into their own homes; he achieved the National Association of Realtors Military Relocation Professional Certification.

“I never thought I’d be here,” he says.

Jarid’s advice for those working through TBI or PTSD: “Don’t let it change you – don’t allow it to overcome everything you’ve worked for. You can recover from it- you just have to have the will and the support system to get through it. It will be a struggle and you have to have the determination to do it, otherwise you will revert to something you don’t want to become.”

“I’m not going to mope and whine – the hurt is done and over. There’s a strong will in my family – I’m very stubborn!” Stubbornness, determination – call it what you will. That virtue may have played a large part in his ongoing recovery.