Nestled along a bucolic stretch of foothills in Silicon Valley, between the campuses of Hewlett-Packard and Stanford University (including Stanford Medical School), lies a campus with a mission of a greater purpose. In fact, it's so well hidden behind a row of trees that you might not have an inkling what the buildings are housing but for the large American flag protruding high up above the tips of those trees. Here at the heart of Silicon Valley, where the mansions of those made wealthy from the IT industry (like Meg Whitman in Atherton and Carly Fiorina in Los Altos Hills) and venture capitalism are tucked in seclusion, is an ordinary set of buildings housing the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital.
Perhaps it's appropriate that this particular VA hospital is located near the origin of the high tech industry, because this facility uses some high tech care to help those with more severe injuries - traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The following are excerpts of a condensed version of a report from the PBS show "California Connected" which aired on PBS Newshour in 2006. Video of the full original report, and more information about it, can be found here. (Have tissues at the ready if you watch the video.)
LISA MCREE: Here is Ward 7-D of the Palo Alto V.A. Hospital, one of four polytrauma units in the United States.
HARRIET ZEINER, Neuropsychologist, Veterans Administration: It's set up to receive individuals who have received multiple wounds, multiple system damage.
LISA MCREE: Dr. Harriet Zeiner is a clinical neuropsychologist.
HARRIET ZEINER: You may notice some of the patients here are wearing helmets, and that's because part of their injuries have actually destroyed some of the bone. And all that's there is some skin. So they wear the helmet until such time as surgeons can make a prosthetic skull and replace it.
HARRIET ZEINER: A traumatic brain injury is an injury to brain tissue, which is extremely soft stuff. It has the consistency of, like, Jell-O left at room temperature. It's so soft that, when they do surgery on the brain, they don't use knives. They use little suction pipettes.
Imagine you can't remember your own child -
SPC. CLAUDIA CARREON: It's a daily struggle. I have to write everything down every day, everything that I do, everything that happened. And if I don't do it, at the end of the day or during the day, the next day I might not remember.
LISA MCREE: And it's not just the everyday events of her life she loses; it's the people in it, as well.
SPC. CLAUDIA CARREON: People that are close to me, I have to have pictures of them, otherwise I stop seeing them for about a week or two, their image will be gone.
LISA MCREE: Even the image of her own child.
SPC. CLAUDIA CARREON: To the best of my recollection, I have never been pregnant. I don't know what it is to be pregnant. I don't know what it is to give birth, and basically I don't know what it is to have a child.
All that I know is that I have a baby. She is my daughter. She is two years old. I talk to her every day. She says, "Mommy," because she sees pictures of me, but I don't know. I don't know.
I do not have the feeling in the relationship between a mother and a daughter. How is it possible that I forget such a great event in my life, when it's something that nobody will never, never forget?
Here's where the high tech tools get used in the treatment -
LISA MCREE: And even though Claudia can be taught how to drive again, her devastating brain injury makes that harder than it sounds.
DOCTOR: Please turn on the radio. Please slide your climate control to the right.
LISA MCREE: And the driving simulator isn't Claudia's only high-tech helper. Because her injury destroyed her ability to remember, she's being trained on a personal data assistant, a PDA, to help her remember everything from when to take her medication to the names and faces of her family members.
HARRIET ZEINER: Let's look at today's appointments, OK? You've got yours?
It's a memory prosthesis. A prosthesis is something like a brace like she's wearing on her knee right now to help support the knee. Well, this is a support for her memory.
Unfortunately, like trying to diagnose tendonitis from an x-ray, some TBIs can't easily be "seen" like physical wounds, and may go on undetected for too long while soldiers are still in stressful situations.
HARRIET ZEINER: Â We have thousands. We have thousands of people who don't know that they are brain-injured. And we think what's happening is that a truck goes over, an IED goes off, and one guy or two guys are really seriously injured.
And so the system goes right into play for them. They're MedEvaced. They're taken care of. But the other five guys in the truck were thrown against the walls, and they had a blast effect. They just pick up and they go.
LISA MCREE: While the V.A. estimates it's treated some 800 soldiers for TBI, Zeiner says the real number of victims could be 10 times that.
Now imagine that you're not only having to deal with such injuries, but also worry about basic items like clothes and toiletries. That is why my personal NFTT "project" is providing shirts, soaps, and books to the soldiers and veterans served through this hospital. (Too bad more people with those "Support the Troops" magnets on their cars don't do similarly.)
If you live near a VA hospital facility, and have used paperback books, magazines, or "gently used" clothing (men's and women's), please consider donating those items to them. Check with the facility to find out what they need and accept.
Diarist's note- due to my luddite system, I was unable to include the NFTT logo in this diary. So here's an obligatory pweeze tu suhport da twoops pet pic in its place.
Again, this year, Netroots For The Troops seeks to make a tangible
thank-you in our small way to the troops who are still serving, before they become veterans. Our mission is two-fold: shipment of CARE packages to U.S. soldiers and Marines serving in hostile regions of Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration of their deployment, and on-going
financial assistance for veterans and their families upon their return
to the States.
Our goal for 2010 is $100,000 (cash or in-kind donations). So far,
we've raised over $25,000, 25 percent of our goal. So there is a long way
NFFT is a project of Netroots Arts and Education Initiative (NAEI), a
501(c)3 organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent
permitted by law.
Here are other ways you can help:
~ Please contact TexDem or VeloVixen if
you know someone who might be helpful in securing the corporate,
in-kind donations. To help you think of companies that could donate
products, see below* for a list of potential items. It takes time to
get throught he corporate processes, so we need to hear from you ASAP!
~ The cash from individuals donate here will enable us to buy the things we are unable to obtain through corporate donations and help pay the costs of shipping them to our troops.
~ At the NFTT 2010 Personal/Team Fundraising Pages, you can set create a Personal NFTT 2010 Fundraising Page. This gives you a means to approach your friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers and colleagues to donate to NFTT via your page. We're asking you to sign up to personally raise
If you were a small donor last year but wanted to do more, this is a
way for you to increase your donation via your contacts.
~ Sign up for a diary! Our goal is to post two diaries per day
until NN10, which doesn't start until July 21. That's a
lot of diaries! Don't worry -- we've made it easy
for you. We've got a template set up, and all you need to do is
add a small introduction telling us why you are donating, sharing a
story of someone you know who has served or is serving, or any other
thing you want to share that might help motivate others to donate.
Please contact jlms qkw if you are interested in posting a diary.
~ Help us assemble the packages in Vegas. It's fun! More
information will be forthcoming for those of you who are going to be
in Vegas and would like to help there.
~ Please consider joining the NFTT FaceBook Group. Invite your FaceBook and non-FaceBook friends.* The following list contains some of the things we would like to
include in the packages. Please let us know if you know someone who
might be helpful in securing these corporate in-kind donations.
(Please DO NOT send these items yourself! We have no
way to accept them. Instead, your cash donation is the very best way
to help make this happen on the ground in Vegas.) * Baby wipes * Mechanix gloves * LED flashlights * Gel shoe insoles * Goop Cleaning Gel * Powdered energy drinks * Gel energy food packets * DVDs and CDs * Letters to the soldiers * Sand scarves & cool ties.
We realize that you may want to donate something tangible to go inside
the packages that will be mailed to the troops. Unfortunately, accepting in-kind donations from individuals is not practical in terms of storage and handling of the items. Instead, we will only be accepting corporate donations or cash from you to purchase items for the care packages this year.
We are accepting hand-written or typed letters. See Lusty's diary for details. Mail hand-written letters to Lusty, email typed letters to jlms qkw, at
Books for Soldiers
Soldiers love to receive books, but due once again to the logistics of
collecting and storing them prior to NN10, books will not be included
in the packages that NFTT will put together this year. Other
organizations are more specialized in the collection and distribution of books to Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are interested in sending books, please consider checking out the Books For Soldiers website. It is run by DKos's very own StormBear and is a great resource for giving.
Since March 1, 2010, monthly donations are no longer being deducted.
Please consider donating the difference here.