Commentary: Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer

John DeMello, Southington Veterans Committee
Phone: (860) 276-6299

The Southington Veterans Committee has been assisting veterans and their families by directing them to various state, federal and local resources that are available to them. We assist in directing veterans that suffer post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) to the care they need. Both are common among military personnel returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some veterans return and refuse treatment, believing that it will affect their future employment or label them with a stigma, but assistance is important. PTSD and TBI injuries effect individuals in different ways.

In a TBI injury, the head is hit or violently shaken (such as from a blast or explosion), a “concussion” or “closed head injury” can result. Concussion is seldom life threatening, so doctors often use the term “mild” when the person is only dazed or confused or loses consciousness for a short time.

However, concussion can result in serious symptoms. People who survive multiple concussions may have more serious problems. People who have had a concussion may say that they are “fine” although their behavior or personality has changed.

PTSD is a condition that develops after someone has experienced something traumatic in their life or a life-threatening situation, such as combat. In PTSD, the event must have involved actual or threatened death or serious injury and caused an emotional reaction involving intense fear, hopelessness, or horror.

People with PTSD have various kinds of experiences for weeks or months after the event is over and the individual is in a safe environment

An injury caused by the explosion blast from the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) result from the pressure or blast waves that hits the body. The direct effect of the blast, results in the brain being rattled and the overpressure on the body organs. When researching TBI it is unknown what the effects are directly related to any damage to the internal organs of the body.

In one recent case, an outstanding marine suffered from PTSD and a TBI as a result of his vehicle hitting an improvise explosive device (IED). The result was a major blast that seriously injured him and his fellow marines.

He was transported to a British Field Hospital, where he was improperly diagnosed after a failed treatment for a TBI. After three days on morphine, he asked to be released from the field hospital and sent back to his unit. Once back at his unit he carried on operations without having been properly diagnosed and treated.

After completing his duty, he returned to the U.S. and was honorably discharged. He came home a hero to a different world then the one he left from. The horrific scenes that played out for this young marine—combat, death, destruction, killing, and the IED explosion—took a toll on him.

The TBI and other injuries to his body, coupled with the PTSD, resulted in living a life that has a crippling effect on a once youthful and joyous life. The failure of medical treatment and documentation from the British Field Hospital led to the failure of proper treatment at the Veterans Administration (VA). This once vibrant marine never received his Purple Heart from the devastating injuries as a result of the IED blast.

While working on this case, we helped him seek records of the bomb blast via Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization and US CENTCOM. We have hope the reports will lead to further information that will help this young marine.

We cannot make miracles happen. We can only strive to do our best for veterans and their families. We ask that veterans don’t ever give up. Don’t take “no” for an answer. Don’t let yourself be defeated by a system that just eliminated your hopes of obtaining your rights.

We can help. Please contact us.

John DeMello is a member of the Southington Veterans Committee. The committee can be reached at Town Hall, 75 Main St., by phone at (860) 276-6299, or by email at

Congratulations, John

The Southington Observer congratulates John DeMello for being named the YMCA Person of the Year. He will be honored at the YMCA’s annual meeting at the Aqua Turf on Feb. 6.

YMCA to honor ‘best of Southington’


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