John Daoust approached his time at SHARE Military Initiative like he approached his military service — by giving it 110%.
After serving 29 years in the United States Army and Coast Guard, John Daoust moved with his family to a cabin in rural Alaska where he loves the peace afforded by living in such a remote spot. Still, when he heard about the SHARE Military Initiative at Shepherd Center, he jumped to fly to Atlanta to participate.
“I was really looking forward to it. I was at a point where, if this didn't work, I wasn't sure where to go. I was ready to give 110%,” John recalls.
During his time in the Army and Coast Guard, John sustained multiple injuries, including injuries from two explosive blasts and a blow to the head. One was obvious, a knee injury that required surgery. But another, a traumatic brain injury (TBI), went undiagnosed for decades.
John has participated in several programs to address post-traumatic stress (PTSD), but none focused on TBI.
“There was no connecting the dots. It never addressed why I react the way I do to certain things or how I process things.”
John wondered if SHARE could really help him, but he remembers it feeling different from day one.
“My first day, seeing veterans at different stages of the program — it was a very positive experience. It wasn't like any other place. The whole care team was very positive.
And I think the number one thing was, they weren't trying to fix you. They were listening to what each person was going through and looking at how to attack it.”
For John, that included occupational therapy to address issues with his vision that had resulted in years of headaches, physical therapy to manage pain from injuries he sustained during his service, counseling, and recreational therapy.
Recreational therapy outings helped John and another SHARE client feel more comfortable in group social settings.
“When we first started, we were conversing as a little group, but I was extremely focused on what was around me. I was hyper-alert to what could go wrong. We kept doing outings, and by the end, I wouldn't say I was functioning 100% in a large crowd, but it was way easier,” John explains.
Now, John is back home in Alaska and says his time at SHARE has made a big difference in his personal life.
“We talk about it all the time — how SHARE really impacted me in a positive way.”
Written by Ruth Underwood
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Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.