The “invisible wounds of war” are not so invisible: The high rates of suicide and other maladies gripping our nation’s military families are right in front of us.

As people experience brain trauma differently, the field has been stymied by a one-size-fits-all approach and lack of objective tools and treatments to effectively diagnose and manage TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). TBI and PTSD are risk factors of suicide. Learn about how organizations are collaborating and advocating to bring new solutions to Veterans and others who have sustained brain trauma.

In September 2021, Tristan Wimmer, Marine Veteran and Scount Sniper, Founder of 22 Jumps moderated a discussion with the 22 Jumps participants and veterans, including:

  • Marcus Ellison – USAF, 8 years, Bridge Day organizer
  • Eric Johnson – USA, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, 21 years, Lt. Col (retired), USA trauma surgeon. Currently: Colorectal surgeon in Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Professor of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University
  • Dustin “Dusty” Gebhardt – USA, 11 years, still active, Afghanistan veteran as Pathfinder, Current Golden Knight
  • Pepe Campos – USMC, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, Infantryman, Prior Dept of State high-threat security contractor
  • Michael Murphy – USMC, 11 years, still active, Current MARSOC Raider
  • Brent Lake – USA, 8 years, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, 2nd Battalion 75th Regiment (special operations)
  • Chantelle Ferland-Beckham, PhD – Director, Policy and Advocacy, Cohen Veterans Bioscience

Conversation with BASE Jumpers

Participants and Veterans include: Marcus Ellison, Eric Johnson, Dustin "Dusty" Gebhardt, Pepe Campos, Michael Murphy, Brent Lake.

Moderated by Tristan Wimmer.

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In May 2022, John Greenway, President of Mission2Alpha, moderated a discussion with the recent 22 Jumps participants and veterans, including:

  • Tristan Wimmer, Marine Veteran and Scout Sniper, Founder of 22 Jumps
  • Nick Cliche, US Air Force
  • Andrew Katz, US Army
  • Mark Zervas, PhD, Deputy Director, Translational Research & Development, Cohen Veterans Bioscience
  • Mahmoud Ghannoum, PhD
  • Eric Johnson, MD

Conversation with BASE Jumpers and Speakers of 22 Jumps Idaho

Participants and Veterans include: Tristan Wimmer, Nick Cliche, Andrew Katz, Mark Zervas, Mahmoud Ghannoum, Eric Johnson.

Moderated by John Greenway.

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More About 22 Jumps

Bob Harward is the Chief Executive (CE) for Lockheed Martin Middle East and has lived in Abu Dhabi for five years. A National Security Expert, in both theory and application, he served on the National Security Council for the Bush administration, commissioned the National Counter Terrorism Center, and has extensive combat experience as a US Navy SEAL, in Afghanistan, Iraq (he led invasions in both countries in Oct 2001 and Mar 2003), Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Bosnia, as well as the rest of the Middle East.

A US Naval Academy alumni, he holds a Masters degree in International Security Affairs, is a graduate of the Naval War College and the MIT Foreign Policy Program. He also served as an executive fellow at RAND. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, he was a Vice Admiral (SEAL) in the United States Navy, with his last assignment as Deputy Commander, US Central Command (USCENTCOM).

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Hear directly from Harward on the importance of CVB's Veterans Advisory Council.

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Veteran Stories

Understanding the lived experiences of Veterans and their families is crucial to our work.

Frank Larkin

Frank J. Larkin’s career spans many diverse roles in service to our country. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served as a special warfare operator in the Navy SEALs, he worked in law enforcement as a police officer, detective and paramedic, and he also served for more than two decades in the United States Secret Service.

More recently, Mr. Larkin served as the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms, and lead the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) within the Department of Defense. Having experienced the impact of military trauma both personally and professionally, Mr. Larkin is committed to improving veterans healthcare and will Chair our Veterans Advisory Council in 2019 to support the advancement of veterans brain health.

Brian Losey

Brian Losey has spent his entire career—some 33 years—serving our country. In August 2016, he retired from his position as Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy, where he led the Special Warfare Command.

Garrett Combs

Garrett Combs brings a unique perspective to our Listening to Veterans series. As a Veteran and documentary filmmaker, Garrett has battled PTSD and has interviewed over 100 veterans about their time in war and coming home, giving him a rich understanding of this complex experience. Garrett joined the Army in 2004, serving in Afghanistan and Iraq as a light infantry soldier before leaving the military in 2009 and earning his BS in Visual Communication. His experience transitioning back to civilian life contributes greatly to his desire to explore the topic of reintegration, as his unit has lost over 10 members to suicide, drug overdose, and other preventable deaths.

Jeff Sabados, MBA, MPP

We are honored to speak with Jeff Sabados for our Listening to Veterans series. Jeff has accomplished a lot during his career in the military and as an entrepreneur. He served in the military for 8 years completing six deployments as a Surface Warfare Office and US Navy SEAL. Adding to an impressive military resume, Jeff holds a Masters degree from Harvard University and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. An experienced entrepreneur, Jeff co-founded Resilience Therapeutics in 2014, a company dedicated to assembling the best biotech scientists and research organizations in the world to generate disease-modifying therapeutics for Veterans suffering from PTSD.

Dallas Hack, MD

Dr. Dallas Hack, a medical doctor and Veteran, has been involved with CVB almost since its beginning, in 2015. He brings to his role on our Strategic Advisory Council his deep expertise in medical research and in organizational leadership. We spoke to him recently about his experiences in the military, as well as his thoughts on CVB, in particular, the Brain Trauma Blueprint, in which he has been deeply involved.

Joe Zoleta

Marine Veteran Joe Zoleta is a paramedic and the co-founder of Black 6 Project, a nonprofit that organizes global humanitarian missions. He lives on Long Island with his wife Jane and their two young sons. We recently spoke with Joe about his work, as well as the formative effects of his experiences in the Marines.

Dr. John E. Cebak

While serving as a combat medic in Iraq, John E. Cebak experienced the trauma both of taking enemy lives and attempting to save his wounded comrades.

Bob Harward

We discussed priorities for Veterans brain health, advocacy efforts and Veterans Day with Veterans Advisory Council (VAC) member Bob Harward, VADM (SEAL), U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former Deputy Commander, Central Command.

Patient Perspectives

Get a firsthand look into the stories of patients experiencing the effects of TBI and PTSD.

Christian Nielsen

A former police officer discusses overcoming PTSD.

Katrina Wolf

Katrina Wolf, First Responder and Brain Health Advocate, shares her perspective on PTSD.

Chantelle Ferland-Beckham, PhD

Ferland-Beckham not only serves as CVB's Director of Policy & Advocacy, but has her own PTSD story; read it in her own words.

Karestan C. Koenen, PhD

Explore the resilience of the brilliant scientist Professor Karestan C. Koenen, PhD, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology

E. Teresa Touey

E. Teresa Touey recounts firsthand her experience with Brain Concussion Recovery.

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Watch a presentation by CPT John E. Cebak, DO, PhD (U.S. Army National Guard) at the 2019 State of the Science Summit

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Firsthand Experience

We spoke with him about the challenges he faced, what approaches worked best for him, and what he hopes for the future of PTSD diagnosis and care.

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As a corrections officer in a jail, I am responsible for the safety and security of the inmates and facility. As a resiliency officer, I am on a list of people my brothers and sisters can call for help with problems they face, not only in their careers but in life as well. What many people don’t realize is that as officers we face not only mental health problems but many other real-life traumas. Corrections officers have a much higher rate of suicide than the general public, or even police officers. There is a huge stigma in my profession, as well as in the military, that we are these elite humans whom nothing can touch and mental health problems should just be sucked up. When in reality, we are just as human as the next person. We go through trials and tribulations in our home lives on top of our stresses at work. The goal of the resiliency program is to help officers before they feel life has become too much to handle.

I have been very fortunate to have had support multiple times in my life. Very recently, I went through a terrible divorce after a 14-year abusive marriage. As things piled on after leaving my ex-husband, just when I thought it would get better, I began to spiral downward. Then I reached out to a person I thought was a friend, whom I had helped through a dark time, and they weren’t there for me. It was then that I thought I had nowhere to turn. That same day my cousin reached out and asked me to come to a family BBQ. It felt like I had been in a room in complete darkness and a door had been opened. Having someone offer support to me was huge. It helped me start getting the help I needed.

I think it is so important that the community and organizations offer support for PTSD. I believe we could help so many people not only to get diagnosed but to learn to manage the disorder. Maybe one day we’ll find a way to truly treat it.

I believe that society could have helped me and many others by looking into how to diagnose and treat PTSD. With this knowledge, there could possibly have been a center, groups, or hotline to reach out to.

I was diagnosed with C-PTSD (complex PTSD) early this year, when I started therapy with a trauma therapist. It would have been amazing to have had some way to diagnose this. I would have known so much sooner and begun appropriate therapy. Having a way to diagnose PTSD could prevent so many people from suffering needlessly.

I am taking medication that is helping with some of my C-PTSD symptoms. And my trauma therapist is helping me work through my anxiety and triggers.

If research could show how individuals respond to the treatments, therapy, and medication, individualized plans could be put in place. PTSD is complicated, and just like people, it is different for everyone. I think with research such as your organization is doing, treatments could be put together with just enough of each thing for the individual.

My dream is to have an organization like yours, but with treatment and support added to the research program, as well. I want to share my story, to show others they do not have to suffer in silence. In addition to showing society, medical professionals, and organizations how important this research is, I want my story to pave the way for others not to have to suffer a lifetime.