Struggling with mental illness resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or PTSD is a common occurrence now among today’s veterans returning from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. But although the wounds are not physical, they can be just as painful.
Former Army infantryman Daniel Williams is just one veteran suffering from these injuries. He testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on the struggles he encountered getting help for his psychological issues after being honorably discharged from the Army in 2004.
"An improvised explosive device injured my body, my brain, and my mind. The most severe of my injuries is PTSD, an invisible injury no one can see but that haunts my every move," Williams testified.
After being told he would have a wait of six months for an appointment with a psychiatrist at the base clinic, Williams decided to take matters into his own hands. He locked himself in the bathroom with a .45-caliber pistol. His wife called the police, desperate for help.
"When they kicked open the door, I pulled the trigger, but by the grace of God the weapon misfired,” Williams said. “The officers handcuffed me and seated me in the back of a police car. One officer attempted to clear my weapon, but the same round that refused to kill me went off perfectly for him. Thankfully, no one was injured."
Even after this incident, it took over a year for Williams to receive a medical evaluation board decision. It was only after another confrontation, this time with a receptionist and police at a medical clinic that Williams finally was able to get the care, therapy, and medication he needed to make a successful recovery, with the help of doctors and a local recovery coordinator.
Williams testified on servicemembers needing prompt care for their psychological wounds, though other testimony that day covered veterans’ mental health courts, an alternative treatment for servicemembers suffering from the trauma of war after they return home.