During the past year and a half, I have been given some special opportunities to do positive things for the TBI community in the state of West Virginia. First, I was selected as Chair for the West Virginia Medicaid Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Waiver Quality Improvement Advisory Council which provides opportunities for individuals with TBI to transfer from institutions such as nursing homes to a home environment which can vastly improve their quality of life. Our mission is to advise the WV Bureau for Medical Services how to implement the Waiver to provide the best possible service to the participants.
My work with the TBI Waiver QIA Council has led to other opportunities that I hope to use to better the lives of fellow survivors as we travel this sometimes-broken road. I was selected as the TBI survivor to represent West Virginia at the 29th Annual State of the States in Head Injury Meeting Sponsored by the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators in Des Moines, Iowa. I hope to learn things at this meeting that will make me a better advocate for TBI survivors in West Virginia and beyond if possible.
Attending the meeting in Iowa will be very helpful in my other position as a member of the West Virginia Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board. While the TBI Waiver Council deal with a very specific level of TBI care, The TBI Advisory board has a broader area of concentration, covering all ages and all levels of severity of injury.
Here is a little perspective on what makes these opportunities important to me. In 1975, shortly after graduating from high school, I left West Virginia to join the U S Army and though I returned for a short period in the early 80s, I was gone for more than 35 years. I was raising a family and pursuing a career in the military which led to another career in the computer field. In May of 2008, everything I had worked so hard for came to an end in an instant when the truck pulled out in front of me. You can read about the accident here. I was blessed, in a twisted way, to have had my accident in Georgia which is where Shepherd Center is located. It still took two and a half months to get there but once I did, things came together, and recovery began in earnest.
Awareness and care for TBI is not perfect anywhere simply due to a general lack of understanding but when people care and work hard, it can get better and I hope these opportunities are just the beginning and I can help bring TBI to a level of awareness that will allow survivors in the state of West Virginia to receive the care and opportunities available anywhere else in the country if not better.