Do you remember the Oscar winning movie Black Hawk Down (2001)? Chances are you either remember watching it or you have heard of it. When the movie was pulled from theaters after its 15-week run, it had grossed $172,989,652 and had left an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of Americans.
Black Hawk Down is based on the events of October 3-4, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia. Some have called it the First Battle of Mogadishu and others call it the Battle of Black See (after the name of the neighborhood in which it took place) in which two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed. The Battle left 18 American men dead, 70 wounded, with 3,000 Somalis casualties. After the battle, Staff Sergeant William David Cleveland, Jr. was dragged naked through the streets. If you are interested, you can read about the situation and circumstances surrounding Black Hawk Down on the Internet (http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/Somalia/Somalia.htm) or just Google search the title.
The American Press and others have rightfully highlighted the heroism of the soldiers Black Hawk Down. Likewise, the Press has been quick to sensationalize the failures in their personal lives as well. For instance by the time the movie was released, the Pentagon had pressured the producers to alter the name of Silver Star winner Specialist John “Stebby” Stebbins to John Grimes (played by Ewan McGregor) because Stebbins was sentenced to 30 years in prison on June 8, 2000 for “sodomy with a child under 12.” However…no one seems to have noticed 2nd Lt. John Beales’ seizure (which actually took place the day before the events of Black Hawk Down).
The epic storyline, however, drowns a very interesting event worth remembering. In the beginning of the action, 2nd Lieutenant John Beales (played by Ioan Gruffundd) suffers an epileptic seizure and Staff Sergeant Matt Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) is thrust into the position of leadership even though he had never commanded troops in combat before.
What caused Beales’ seizure? Seizures are not uncommon to military soldiers and Acquired Epilepsy is the basis for a growing number of military medical separations. It is unfortunate the public is largely unaware of Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE) and its long-term consequences. Soldiers who experience even a single concussion—or what is today being called a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury—are at increased risk for PTE. The
greater the severity of the brain injury, the greater the risk of developing PTE. Americans need to wake up and realize that 2nd Lt. John Beales is not alone, currently 1 in 5 of our soldiers could develop PTE…1 in 5!
It is the opinion of Operation Outreach that every soldier deserves to know the risks. Take the time to read about PTE because chances are good that you (if you are a veteran with a TBI) or someone you know will acquire this serious medical condition.
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