RLF veteran ambassador Chris Lawrence joins the league of TBI Champions on A Head for the Future, a U.S. Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) website that focuses on resources aimed at the prevention, recognition, and recovery of traumatic brain injury in the military. Chris, a veteran of the U.S. Marines, is the second RLF ambassador to be named as a Champion by DVBIC, joining U.S. Army veteran Sgt. Wendell Guillermo, whose video story was published in March.
After he sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from an improvised explosive device (IED) detonation while on tour in Iraq, Chris was told he probably wouldn’t walk again. Now he’s running and boxing and has graduated from the police academy. In fact, he relies on being active to cope with his TBI symptoms.
Here’s Chris’s story of recovery in his own words:
I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. I joined the Marines at 18 and was stationed at Camp Pendleton with 3rd AABn, B Co. I deployed to Iraq in April of 2007. In August 2007, while conducting a foot patrol, insurgents detonated an IED on a bridge I was crossing. The bomb went off beneath my feet. I was medivaced to Navy Hospital Bethesda, MD.
While in the hospital people spoke of “TBI.” I had no idea what they were talking about. I went through multiple surgeries and was transferred to Navy Hospital San Diego, CA to recover. I realized my memory had gotten worse and I had difficulty concentrating. I had a TBI evaluation and was told I had a mild TBI.
I was diagnosed two years after my injury and told by the Neuropsychologist that I already began compensating and didn’t need treatment. A few months later, I started college and had to learn how to learn again. I realized I had to study harder and longer. I completed my AA degree and decided to become a police officer. I graduated the police academy with honors. I now patrol in Chula Vista, CA. My TBI still affects me. I take many notes and use my cell phone to stay organized and on time.
“We are highlighting this veteran’s compelling story to show others that treatment is available and recovery from TBI is possible,” said Scott Livingston, director of education at DVBIC. “Our hope is that our nation’s heroes can connect with Lawrence — or others who have shared stories with A Head for the Future — and begin their own path to recovery.”
RLF salutes Chris and Wendell for their service, persistence, and accomplishments.