Secondary PTSD Can Exist for the Whole Family After a Traumatic Brain Injury

It was not until the family attended an event through the Wounded Warrior Project that Caregiver and Mother Pam Estes learned about and understood the depths of secondary PTSD. Even 17 years after her son, Army Veteran Jason Ehrhart, sustained a TBI, she and other members of the family still "have their moments."

Posted on BrainLine March 14, 2023. Reviewed March 14, 2023.

About the author: Pam Estes and Jason Ehrhart

The events of 9/11 made Jason Ehrhart angry — so angry that he enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school. In September of 2005, he was sent to Iraq as an infantry mortarman. Three months later, while traveling in Baghdad, his Humvee was blown up by anti-tank mines. Jason was blown out of the top of the vehicle and landed several yards away. Both of his legs were broken, he had third-degree burns covering 60% of his body, and he slipped into a coma that lasted for three months. When he came out of the coma, one of his legs had been amputated and he couldn’t swallow or speak. Jason’s parents, Pam and Mike Estes, became full-time caregivers for their adult son. His wounds and traumatic brain injury (TBI) meant that he could do virtually nothing for himself. The Estes family credits Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) caregiver retreats with helping them begin their own recoveries and the Independence Program (IP) with helping them turn the corner to a more normal life.

Headshot of Pam Estes and Jason Ehrhart