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Video: Veteran Shares Inspiring Story of Remarkable TBI Recovery

Former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant John Sharpe with his family (Photo courtesy of A Head for the Future)

A car collision left John Sharpe in a coma for 40 days, and doctors weren’t sure if he would ever wake up. Through treatment with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Sharpe made a full recovery from a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), and now, as a VA counselor, he helps others who have sustained TBIs.

The former Air Force staff sergeant shares his story in a new video released today in recognition of Warrior Care Month by A Head for the Future, a TBI awareness initiative from the Department of Defense. The video is also available on the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury YouTube channel.

Sharpe’s first memory when he woke up was hearing that he might need 24/7 care for the rest of his life. He started therapy through the VA Polytrauma System of Care. Sharpe credits his successful recovery to his health care providers, who encouraged and motivated him. Today, 25 years after the car crash, Sharpe serves as a peer counselor, helping service members and veterans with TBI overcome the same challenges he faced.

For Sharpe, seeing a mental health provider turned his life around and saved his marriage.

Therapy, he said, “allows me to work a full-time job, carry [on] a normal life and have two kids. So don’t feel bad if someone says that you may need to seek a mental health provider. Please do it. The military and the VA [have] the best health care providers in the world when it comes to traumatic brain injury.”

According to recent Defense Department data, more than 352,000 service members were diagnosed with TBI since 2000 — most in noncombat settings. Sports-related incidents, motor vehicle collisions, falls and training accidents are the most common causes of noncombat-related brain injury among service members.

“During Warrior Care Month, we are raising awareness of resources available to injured service members as well as their families, caregivers and others who support them. A Head for the Future features a variety of TBI resources, including videos of service members talking about their personal experiences in recovering from TBI — and sustaining hope.” said Scott Livingston, director of education at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC). “John’s compelling story — and all of our A Head for the Future video testimonials — show that TBI recovery is possible with medical therapy and family support.”

The A Head for the Future video series features service members and veterans who, like Sharpe, recovered from TBI with proper medical care. Visit A Head for the Future to learn more, and follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments (7)

  • We have the need to see we are considered and loved, we have the need to serve and have treated TBI, we due to more causes, here enclosed blasts. But even if we known that his consequence the more hard is PTSD and we are aware more stigma are attached to, we react first searching a care for, calling caregivers, asking aid to our buddies on that being our courage, the true couage of a warrior, making clear what the simptoms we have for may, treating our problem, may be of help of others. On that manner to act is the reason of our be, serve and act. Ever more proud to serve and ever more committed to care our problem for continue on our serving for love and love serve

    • Thank you Claudio for sharing this thoughtful response.

  • Yes I have it to after seven weeks in a coma/ I was a enginemen in navy nine years active duty eleven reserves volunteer as a medic on rescue squad and a firefighter with fad was driving to a call water (firetruck 3500 gallons of water) went around curve in road found it was wash away went off-road then on-road the tank exploded truck blew out was in a coma for 7 weeks that was four years ago I walk with a slight limp my right side "arm and leg slow" but I am slowly getting back can't bend over stiff as shit when they sent me home was in a wheelchair told that was it I fought the VA hospital now I use a walker outside cane inside

    • Hi Michael, We're sorry to hear about your injury and slow recovery. It can be a frustrating road to recover from severe injury. We wish you well on your journey.

  • I am so very happy for you and your family. I know that you count your blessings everyday. Because of what you have gone through, you are able to use your trauma, pain, fear, and most of all recovery to inspire others. Congratulations to you and all that supported you.

  • This was very interesting and inspiring. I am so glad I was able to read it and will share it with my son who is also a disabled veteran. I have worked in the same building as John for many years and would never have thought he had endured such an injury but I am certainly filled with joy that he has recovered so well and is helping others.

    • Thank you Veralyn for sharing!

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This page was last updated on: September 14, 2017.