Claudia Carreon might not look injured. There are no significant scars or missing
limbs. But the sacrifices she’s made are daunting.
On June 10, 2003, as an Army Specialist deployed to war-torn Iraq, Claudia was involved
in a head-on automobile collision in Baghdad. An Iraqi citizen died at the scene,
but the extent of Claudia’s wounds went largely unnoticed.
In a sense, she had lost everything. The war’s “signature wound” – a traumatic brain
injury – had almost completely wiped the slate clean on Claudia’s past. No longer
could she remember the husband she’d married before leaving for Iraq, or the two-year-old
daughter they shared.
Shortly after the accident, she returned to duty, but wasn’t the same. Weeks later,
she was demoted for failing to follow an order – an order her short-term memory
Eventually, the Army recognized what had happened to Claudia and returned her rank.
She was sent to the VA’s famed Polytrauma Center in Palo Alto, California to recoup
what she could from her life along with veterans who’d suffered from similar accidents,
improvised explosive devices, and rocket propelled grenades.
Claudia is still working to get her life back. She has a special handheld personal
computer, which doctors at Palo Alto call her “prosthetic brain.” It helps her keep
track of nearly every aspect of her daily life. She’s retired from the Army. Every
day she pushes to make little steps forward.
For Claudia and veterans at polytrauma centers who’ve suffered some of the most
brutal injuries the war can inflict, help is available along the way.
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Service Trust supports programs
and services that help them adjust to their life with disabilities.
The Trust has provided more than $58.7 million to support projects that provide direct
assistance to these deserving veterans and their families. From driver’s rehabilitation
services for veterans with traumatic brain injuries to grants that assure funding
that addresses gaps in outreach, screening and treatment for post-service mental
health services, the DAV Charitable Service Trust is there.
Last year’s grants funded amputee support programs, assistance for homeless veterans,
a massive grant to help open a Center for catastrophically disabled troops and veterans,
and a wide variety of other initiatives.
Funds to support the Trust result from the generosity of donors through workplace
campaigns like the Combined Federal Campaign, United Way, and other workplace giving
“I’m proud to have served in the military. But it’s difficult for people who’ve
served to ask for help,” said Claudia. “We count on the DAV Charitable Service Trust
and organizations like the DAV to help us get our lives back after we’re injured.
And that’s all we really want in the first place.”