PTSD and TBI: One Airman’s road to recovery
by Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
2/25/2013 – DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) — Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have been two topics of great discussion recently, thanks to the ongoing debate in the National Football League and the recovery of veterans as they return home from the war in Afghanistan.
One person who has experienced both and is on the road to recovery is Master Sgt. Jennifer Allara, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron, Explosive Ordinance Disposal team leader at Dover Air Force Base, Del.
For Allara, everything started with a fateful event that occurred in Sept. 2009, when her EOD team at Provincial Reconstruction Farah, Afghanistan, was ambushed while out on patrol. Allara’s teammate Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky was killed by a sniper during the attack, during what Allara called ‘a wake-up call.’
“We are trained to accept a certain amount of danger with our job,” Allara said. “And I always thought in terms of me, what if something happens to me. What if we get blown up. I wasn’t thinking in terms of losing a team member in a turret. It was a very big wake-up call.”
PTSD and TBI are often addressed together for two reasons. First, the symptoms may be similar, so it is difficult to distinguish between the two injuries. Second, many people with TBI also have PTSD.