Little things like remembering his wife’s cell phone number became difficult for 1st Lt. Joshua Fosher after he experienced a traumatic brain injury during a deployment with the 2nd Engineer Battalion’s 40th Mobility Augmentation Company in Afghanistan on June 2013.
It was through the assistance he received from the Army, after he asked for help, that Fosher said helped him get back to his old self.
“I can’t say enough about the support from the battalion and battalion leadership and Fort Bliss, it was great,” Fosher said.
Lt. Col. James Koeppen, 2nd Engineer Battalion Commander, said that pushing through problems on your own isn’t always the best course of action when you feel you need assistance. He said Soldiers like Fosher, who have the courage to ask for and receive help, benefit by sharpening their life skills and forms of resiliency.
“It may take more courage to realize that we need help and to seek it and there is nothing wrong with that,” Koeppen said. “The ability to cope and recover from setbacks is a skill we want all of our Soldiers to posses. It is important for both Soldiers and Family members alike.”
Fosher was with a Polish soldier when the soldier took one step out of a cleared route, stepping directly onto an improvised explosive device. The soldier died. Fosher, who was only 15 feet away from the Polish soldier, survived.
Fosher returned to his Forward Operating Base and was medically evacuated to the hospital. After Fosher returned, he said he felt like something was still wrong and had to use note cards to remember information. Fosher said he soon realized that he needed additional assistance when he noticed that his brain could not make those simple connections that were second nature to him before the accident.
“Everything we do is cerebral, so you need to have your head in the game,” Fosher said. “You’re not a good Soldier unless your head’s in the game.”
“I couldn’t remember my wife’s phone number. Things like these are really scary once you experience it,” he added.
He approached his leadership for assistance and they granted him time to attend Speech and Occupational therapy sessions at Fort Bliss, Texas.
“I received a tremendous amount of support after I raised my hand and said I needed help,” Fosher said.
Fosher received Speech and Occupational therapy in the Soldier Family Medical Clinic at William Beaumont Medical Center from January through April. Fosher said the program, along with the support he received from family and friends, helped him get his mind rewired and helped him rebuild bridges.
“It helped to have my wife with me every step of the way,” Fosher said. “Team building exercises really helped out and got me back to being myself.”
Since his deployment Fosher said he wasn’t able to pick up simple cues like when his dog wanted to go outside. With the therapies, Fosher said he was able to understand these cues again and is now working on agility with his dog. He said he is looking forward to an upcoming agility competition in Las Cruces.
“I’ve gone far from that low point,” Fosher said. “I cannot say enough about the effectiveness of having the dogs around, as I got better their simple cues made me think, it helped to have them rely on me.”
After completing his therapies in April and officially clearing out in May, Fosher was asked to return to his regular line of duty. Fosher said he still continues with his therapy sessions and continues to work on his brain development at home as well. Fosher said he used to use a brain training program that would grade his development at home, but has since increased his leisurely reading instead.
“The full Soldier concept is mind, and body. You’ve got to have both going in the right direction,” Fosher said. “It’s something that you never stop working on. It’s like with everything else, I constantly look to improve and get better.”
Fosher agreed that the military faces a strong stigma with service members asking for help within the military. He said that was all the more reason for making the decision to ask for help.
“I didn’t want anyone to think that ‘if the person in charge of me didn’t get help then I don’t need it’,” Fosher said. “It’s 100 percent important to break away from that stigma.”
“I put it out whenever I can with the guys. I say, ‘if you need help, get the help. It’s the only way to get back,’” he added.