Pivotal Moments and People Helped Me Recover After Combat-Related Injuries

"There have been people who didn't leave me even when I told them to, who gave me chances, who listened even during my darkest times post-injury. I couldn't have made it without them." Navy veteran Derek McGinnis shares his experience.

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Looking back and going through it it seems like it was a lifetime ago, the pain, the depression, telling my wife to leave me, finding that I wasn't good enough anymore or I'm worthless. I needed to do all that so I could hear myself and understand what's going on with my depression, and for me I was blessed that my wife didn't leave, and now I see that. This is 7 years out. I was blessed that I didn't just quit in my struggle and my fight. I did the research that I needed, and I got the support when I think it was meant to be there. There's pivotal moments. For example, for when I got hit there was this amazing nurse that just happened to be there that had the character to hold a medication to keep my blood pressure at bay, and at night she couldn't see in the bird. But if she didn't roger up to do that I wouldn't be here today, and then by chance I had the privilege of meeting another provider that listened to my pain and what was going on with me just by chance. That's another pivotal moment, just listened and validated my experience, and I could hold on to it and develop more hope from it. There's all these little moments in time that I believe had impacted. The next moment, of course, was running the race and engaging with my fellow injured veterans with the--now I have a group and people I have strength and trust with, and I will always be there for them and being able to talk to them as I need to and holding on to these pivotal people that I know that came from where, I don't know. Then going on to school, working with education, working through my school where I had an opportunity to meet a veteran, a Vietnam era veteran that was an instructor in my MSW program that I could talk to about what's going on in my head and these perspectives and all this as I was going through school, so I could hold on to him. A Vietnam era veteran, combat veteran that lived in my community, one moment, one particular moment in time I ran into him. Somebody I could ride my bike with and just talk to, and it keeps going on. I had an opportunity of going through my graduate school and met another combat veteran. "Hey, I'm developing this program." I said, "May I have an internship with you?" "And may I volunteer for you?" "You know what? I'll give you a chance." "Yes, okay. I don't see your TBI and your injuries." "I'll give you a chance." And I took full hold, and now I believe I've made him happy as I've earned a position there. As I look back over those 7 years and this pain and the struggle and anger and anxiety and depression the one thing I could always look back on--and there was a-- again, building my resilience, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. There's this pivotal moment, bam. I had this person, this person, this person. I had my faith that I could keep going too. I know something--I felt like it was going to happen, and I have all these markers as I look back.
Posted on BrainLine July 3, 2012.

About the author: Derek McGinnis, MSW

Derek McGinnis is an Iraq War combat veteran serving in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. He currently serves combat veterans and their families at the Modesto Vet Center. He advocates for veterans coping with pain through the American Pain Foundation and is the author of a book on pain management.

Derek  McGinnis

Produced by Brian King and Vicky Youcha, BrainLine.