Quiet Explosions: Healing the Brain (2019) - full transcript

Learn how athletes, vets and civilians with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD are becoming healthy and healing their brains. A humanistic doc about the journey of ten different individuals from near suicide to recovery, and a real life.

(ominous music)

(thunder rumbling)

(dramatic music)

(explosion booms)

- [Joe] The average blast wave

travels at 163 miles per hour.

- Whoa!
- Jesus.

- [Man] That's a great picture.

- You gotta see
this video, folks.

The people that are just
listening to the podcast,

you gotta see the
impact of these blasts.

It's so goddamn important.

- Absolutely, people
have to understand

that if you've had
traumatic brain injury

anticipate within
one year's time,

total change in the
person, total change.

They're no longer the
person that you anticipated.

How long did it take
you for that transition?

- I started first
having symptoms

like six months
after I got home.

You know what I mean?

So that's the difficult part.

Like you're not missing a limb,
so you don't think anything

like we were
rocking and rolling.

Come back, good to go.

Happy to be alive.

Let's get ready
for the next one.

And then boom, stuff
starts happening,

and it's like, oh my
gosh, what's going on?

- There's such an
issue in this country

when it comes to mental health.

That mental health
doesn't get looked at

like the health of a bone,
or the health of the muscles.

- [Mark] And that's why we're
seeing so many of the vets

coming back and
committing suicide,

because they've been instilled
with exactly what you said.

Don't be a pussy.

- TBI is so pervasive.

Under 45 years of age,
the most common cause

of significant
morbidity or disability

is because of
traumatic brain injury.

- So it's estimated that
there are two million

new brain injuries every
year in the United States.

So if you just look
over the last 40 years,

with the people walking
around the planet,

that means there's
80 million people

who have traumatic brain injury.

(people chattering)

You're not stuck with
the brain you have.

You can make it better.

You just have to do the
right things for it.

The smartest people are gonna
look at healing the brain

on many different fronts,

but clearly hormones are a
huge, important part of it.

(dramatic music)

- In 2009, I found a
purpose helping veterans.

Having read the articles,

and listened to the news
about how poorly our veterans,

when they came home,
were being treated.

Who are coming home
and committing suicide

at 156 a week, or one
every 36 hours in Montana.

And in fact, in 2012,
the DOD commented

there were 412,000
veterans who had PTS.

And then a year later,
there was 382 who had TBI,

and then you think of
the millions of veterans

that are incarcerated.

230,000 females incarcerated.

And you look at the
military psych reports

that came out talking about

now, what seems to be
the reason why these guys

and gals get into trouble?

It's mood, it's anger,
it's anger management.

- If you count on soldiers
to do what you ask of them,

and put their body on the
line to complete missions,

and then you don't take care
of them when they come back,

how do you ever expect
anybody to be patriotic?

- If for 30 plus
years, you've been told

that you treat depression
by giving this pill,

that's either an SSRI or
an ABCD or whatever it is.

You come in with
these natural products

that have no patents on it,
that you can walk into a GNC.

You can get it from on it,

you can get it from any of
these companies and take it.

Natural, 100% natural coming
from Mexican wild yams,

and it fixes your depression.

- Meeting Andrew Marr in 2014

was when the focus of
what I really wanted

to spend the rest
of my days doing

was on helping those
that had protected us.

- [Woody] Andrew came
home one day and he said,

"Hey, I've decided
to join the army."

It sent his mother and
I into just total panic.

- As a mom, when
I first found out

that he was headed
to Afghanistan,

and all that's going on?

You know, your first thought is,

you know, please live.

- Different day,
same song and dance.

Fuckin', this shit is crazy.

I got to basic training.

I had a map for
what they wanted.

- One.
- Pull!

(explosion booms)

- [Soldier] Yeah!

Fuck you!

- My job is creating
explosive charges

to put on doors, windows, walls.

Improvised explosive
device, IEDs.

(explosion booms)

So, there was a specific event.

We had some information

on a mid level facilitator
for the Taliban.

We get to the location,
we had just missed them.

So we're sweeping
through the house,

and we find this
one specific room

is rigged with explosives.

It is a booby trap.

About that time, the enemy
started kind of an ambush on us.

(gunfire rattling)

They were just trying
to hit close enough

to us to get that weapons
cache, to make us all blow up.

The only tactically
feasible thing

was to detonate the charge.

We pull the charge.

We blew the explosives, you
know, it knocked most of us out

but we were able to get

out of there without any
US or Afghani casualties.

(helicopter whirring)

One of our vehicles hit an IED,

and it shot this
42,000 pound vehicle

20 feet up in the air.

And I saw it, it was
like slow motion.

And I saw it go up,

and as soon as it hit, I
knew what was going on.

And everybody in that
vehicle was wounded.

In order to see
these guys through,

to get the rest of
this team back alive,

I'm gonna forgo going
home, and stay here,

and make sure we bring
everybody else back.

- When Andrew called and said
he wasn't gonna make it home

for the birth of our son,

he explained to me
that they needed him,

and I supported his
decision to stay

and make sure everyone was safe.

- In this particular
instance, relative to Andrew

is his chemistry of his
body was doing great

until he had that group
of insults to him,

whether or not it
was that huge truck

that got blown up
100 feet in the air,

and you got the shockwave
that knocked you out.

Or the repetitive
gunfire that you had,

or the breaching that you--

- And how many
licks does it take

to get to the center
of a Tootsie Roll pop?

It's different for everybody.

- Pregnenolone has
been found to control

the anxiety affecting his body.

- What is pregnenolone?

- With low pregnenolone, it
can lead to all the hormones

that help to regulate our
brain function, and our life.

- So, I'm reading an
article out of Turkey

talking about pugilists, boxers,

and it turned out that they
had a very high occurrence

of growth hormone deficiency.

And that became my
epiphany aha article.

Wow, trauma leads to
hormonal deficiency,

and they're talking
about growth hormone.

What about other hormones

like testosterone,
estrogen, progesterone,

thyroid, cortisol?

And I started looking
through the literature.

PubMed, National Institute
of Health, and so forth,

and there were
articles supporting it.

There weren't a lot,
but that was 2004.

And it seems almost
because I had opened

this new Pandora's
box for myself,

that more articles
started appearing

again and again,
year after year,

and just the quantum
amount of literature

that I was reading.

- They have more issues
than us football players,

because when you're
dealing with those blasts,

and what they've gone
through, and that trauma,

and what they did with war.

It's amazing,
they're number one.

And my attitude is, to all
my government officials,

it's appalling how we treat
our veterans coming back.

You developed a system
to send them out

to protect our sovereignty,

but you gotta have a system

of bringing them back
into our society.

A lot of people
don't have a clue

what these guys go through.

And it's something like

over 20 veterans a
day commit suicide.

When I heard those numbers,
that was staggering to me.

That's uncalled for,

and if I'm offending
someone, so be it.

(crowd cheering)

- [Announcer] He springs
the ball out to Davis,

running for the flag,
touchdown, Anthony Davis.

But he has certainly
aroused the stadium.

It's absolutely amazing
what a team can do

with a couple of turns left.

- The brain is the most
important organ in the universe.

It's really complicated.

It's got a hundred
billion nerve cells,

and each nerve cell is
connected to other nerve cells

by up to 10,000 connections.

You have more
connections in your brain

than there are stars
in the universe.

And if you take a
piece of brain tissue,

the size of a grain of sand,

it has 100,000
neurons, nerve cells,

and a billion connections

all talking to one another.

Your brain is soft, about the
consistency of soft butter

and it's housed in
a very hard skull

that has sharp bony ridges.

So take this soft, complicated,

spectacular organ
in this hard skull.

You don't want to hit
it against things.

It's just not smart.

- I flourished in football,

and flourished in baseball.

At that age, I realized

that I was a top athlete
at 17 in two sports.

Scholarship offers, and I
was drafted professionally.

- So I first saw Anthony Davis,

and I was so excited to see him,

because I grew up here
in Southern California,

and he was the
Notre Dame killer.

He was the runner up
to the Heisman Trophy.

He's really well known.

- [Anthony] We were
down 24 to six.

- [Announcer] High and deep,

and Davis two yards
deep in the end zone.

- [Anthony] We were
gonna win 55 to 24,

but the moment was that
102 yard kick return.

- [Announcer] He's
now off and blazing

and here goes Anthony
Davis for the 102 yard--

- That turned everything around,

and we went on to win
the national title.

(triumphant music)
(crowd cheering)

And then my other
moment is in baseball,

we played against Cal State LA,

and if I don't hit these
two home runs in this game,

we don't go to the NCAA finals.

And that was my
greatest achievement,

and those are my moments.

- So CTE stands for chronic
traumatic encephalopathy,

and it tends to
occur in athletes

who play collision based sports.

And it's due to
repetitive sub-concussive
impacts over time.

It can also be due to
concussive impacts,

but a majority of the CTE occurs

because over time, you're having

these very frequent impacts

that are then resulting
in emotional, cognitive,

and physiological
changes in the brain.

- Dr. Willeumier came on
the Amen team I think 2009.

I would bounce stuff off her

because she's a
neuroscientist that knows

what she's talking about.

She understands the stuff
missing inside that brain works.

- [Announcer] Behind
the line of scrimmage,

it's Jimmy Stock again.

- I had a concussion.

Got injured simultaneously,

'cause I was the kick
returner as well,

and I hurt my shoulder,

took a shot in the
shoulder and the head.

So it was both the shoulder,
and both the concussion,

and I did not play.

Matter of fact, I didn't
even know my name hardly.

- I actually wrote
to the commissioner

with the help of Anthony Davis,

and he never wrote me back.

If I was the commissioner,
I'd admit I had a problem.

And I would be the world leader
in promoting brain health.

But because they denied it,

and they have this blemish,

mothers are pulling kids out
of football left and right.

- They know it's
causing brain damage.

They know that.

They know that.

They have neuro
doctors, and people,

and professionals who know that.

I know they're working
on helmet technology.

That's good.

But the thing is,
it doesn't matter

what kind of technology
you have with the helmet.

Your brain's gonna shake.

I don't care if you put
a tank around your head,

that brain shakes,

and inside of that
brain is jagged edges.

It's very devastating.

Whenever you get, you shake.

And the way these guys shake
and hit the ground, is trauma.

I had a friend by the
name of Don Baucus.

He was a pharmaceutical
major at USC.

He was a big fan of mine.

I was his favorite player.

He took pictures
of me all the time.

And he, we had a
conversation, and he said,

you know, you took a lot of
physical shots in football.

And I said one of 'em, you
took a lot to the head.

And he said "You know,

"have you ever had
your brain scanned?"

And I says, "No, I don't
need it, I'm fine!"

He says, "Well, I think
you need to look at that."

And he started
talking about a guy

by the name of Dr. Daniel Amen.

And I said, "Well,
I don't need that."

But I was on the 405 freeway
two weeks after that,

going north, and I blanked out.

And when I came to,
I was on the shoulder

with my foot on the brake.

If I'd done went left,

we wouldn't be sitting in this
thing doing this interview.

And then, so I called Don,

I said "Don, you know that guy

"you were telling
me about, Dr. Amen?"

He says, "You need
to set something up."

- He was suffering at the time.

His memory wasn't good,
his temper wasn't good,

his judgment wasn't good.

- He looked at my brain
and he diagnosed it

as an 85 year old brain.

(dramatic music)

And I looked at him, I said

"Man, you gotta be
smokin' something.

"I mean, my brain's
not 85 years old."

And I thought he
was a little quacky

tellin' me something like that,

but I gave him the
benefit of the doubt.

- [Narrator] And Mark
Rypien was about to showcase

his signature talent on
football's biggest day.

(dramatic music)

With his bad hair, and
bizarre celebration,

Mark Rypien proved
that style points

were of no value
in the Super Bowl.

- You know, I watched
that in slow motion,

I go, oh my goodness,
what is he doing?

But, it's just the emotions
got me at that time.

You know, this is the Super Bowl

and we are handing it to 'em.

(pleasant music)

I played football because the
other kids in the neighborhood

were playing football.

To be honest with
ya, I hated football.

I had to tackle
people, I got tackled,

I came home crying at times.

And coaches wanted that.

They liked that.

They liked saying, hey,
you gotta be tough.

You gotta be tougher
than the other team.

That was just the way it was.

You get injured for
a period of time,

you come to the sideline
shaking the cobwebs out,

or a trainer comes out,
they put up how many?

And you say four, and they
go, well that's close enough.

(crowd cheering)
(dramatic music)

Of course in the NFL,

the ultimate goal is to
put one of these rings

on your finger, and not only
just winning the Super Bowl,

but the memories and
the stories of the guys

that, you know, you
went to work with

each and every day that
put out that effort,

just as I did, to make
yourself a better person,

a better teammate.

Back in 1991, '92,

we had probably most success

of any team in the
history of the NFL

as throwing the ball
deep down the field.

If they say you hit maybe 10%

of your deep throws,
you're doing pretty well.

I mean, we were in the forties
to 50% of our deep throws,

which was absolutely incredible.

One of the most
successful seasons

in the history of the NFL,

and culminating with the
Super Bowl, XXVI MVP,

and just a great group of guys.

(players grunting)

I think we were up 27 to 14,
start of the fourth quarter.

Buffalos still had an outside
chance, and I threw a spiral.

That was, I think was the
funniest part about the,

the play is that I threw
a nice, tight spiral.

Gary caught it, and
at that point in time

we pretty much felt that
this game is over with,

and put us ahead 38 to 14,

went on to win Super Bowl XXVI.

When it comes to plays, whether
it be on the golf course,

or the football field,

I can remember them
like it was yesterday,

where I can't remember
what I did yesterday,

so has an interesting impact

in how my brain
kinda does function

and doesn't function at times.

- I honestly didn't notice
anything that I identified

as a serious
neurological problem,

'til about four and a half
years into the relationship.

- The short term memory
is very difficult.

Long term memory is difficult,

and there's long term
memory that's good.

So, there's certain aspects
of what's going on in there

that are functioning,
and others that aren't.

There's impulse
control, compulsiveness,

there's anger, road
rage, yelling at people

picketing for better
wages for school.

Some mental things
that are going on.

Insanity would be the only word.

- It seemed to be getting
progressively worse.

His neurological symptoms

were so varied and
all over the board

that I really didn't
even understand them.

- But got called
in for the office,

and said hey, you
could call your wife.

Your son is in the hospital.

So I called her, and she said,

"Well, Andrew's had a seizure."

I flew home, they
took some scans,

and they saw that
there was a mass.

The night of August
21st, I went to bed,

Andrew laid between my
wife and I at the time,

and the next thing you know
about three in the morning,

my wife said, "He's gone."

I go, I know, I
took him outside,

thinking she was
talking about the dog,

and she goes, "No,
Andrew's, Andrew's gone.

"He passed away in his sleep."

Yeah, of course I lost it.

I grabbed him.

I was walking around
the neighborhood

with him, and holding him.

It was, yeah.

It was sad, you know, very sad.

- It starts with lack of
sleep, losing relationships,

alcohol, drugs, and then,
you know you get sad.

You get really sad because
of things that have happened.

I played football,
wanted to play college,

and was pursuing that,

and had an injury in football,

and kind of saw that
go out the window.

After high school,
and not being able

to go to college
on scholarships,

you know, I wasn't doing
anything with life.

I was running down
a pretty bad road,

and I was sitting on the couch

and saw a Marine
Corps commercial,

and was like, you
know, it's time to go.

So I went down to the
recruiting office the next day,

and signed up and was like,
just get me out of here

as fast as you can, you know?

It was time to go.

- I had mixed
emotions about that,

because he signed in a
time that it was hard.

But, I respect and
loved him so much

that I supported
him no matter what.

(intense music)

- In the Marine Corps, my job
was an assault man at 0351.

As an assault man, you
work in teams of two,

and there's no one else to do it

except you and your buddy,
you know, and your brother.

And so, you become very close
with your, with your brother.

We were on the first
push into Fallujah,

and, you know, went
in at night time

with our NVG goggles.

(rockets hissing)

- [Reporter] Parts of
Fallujah lie in ruins,

as Operation Phantom Fury
unleashed the firepower

of the United States
military on the town

they believe is
terrorist central.

(intense music)

- Blake and I had
set up a little hut

up on top of the roof, and
was looking down the alleyway,

you know, waiting
for him to come

and still hearing the
rounds hitting the walls.

And he never, he never came.

So I ran back out there, and
he was sitting in the stairwell

and he just had his finger
straight, and off the trigger.

And you know, I, I grabbed
him on his shoulder,

and his head tilted forward.

And I knew at that
point he was gone,

and it was like someone had
just turned like a faucet on,

and it just came running all
down the front of his face.

And so I, I ran to the doorway
and yelled for Corpsman,

and went back out there,

and started to try to
get him off the rooftop.

- [Reporter] So far,
22 US and Iraqi troops

have been killed.

About 170 have been wounded.

- It's the roughest thing

that I've ever had
to see and witness,

and you know, seeing your
buddy take his last breaths,

and gasping for air.

So I carried Blake's dog tags
around with me the whole war.

I wore it around my hand,

and I even wrote Blake's
name on my trigger finger.

You know, everything from
that point on was for Blake.

And after I got out
of the military,

I continued that and
carried Blake's dog tags

everywhere I went.

- There were times
that he would just

drink, drink,
drink, drink, drink,

because he was
drowning his head out.

And so there were times that
he did drink way too much.

- [Man] PTSD is post
traumatic stress disorder.

It is emotional
trauma that leaves

this signature in your brain.

(tense music)

And can we separate
traumatic brain injury

from post traumatic
stress disorder?

And we showed we
could separate them

with high levels of accuracy.

When you're emotionally

you can't stop
thinking about it.

Your brain becomes overactive.

Where if I bang
your head against

the windshield of a car,
it damages those circuits,

and it becomes underactive.

(dramatic music)

- [Julianna] Gymnastics is
a pretty dangerous sport.

I actually fell out
of a tumbling pass.

I slammed the back of my head.

- She came home that night
and everything was fine.

She went back to
school the next day,

and that that point she
had not lost consciousness,

but at that point
she tumbled again,

and did lose
consciousness in the air,

and did what they call a
face plant in gymnastics.

So she hit the top of her head,

and I didn't learn 'til
all the years later

that those two impacts were
considered a double impact,

within 24 hours.

She actually could have died.

- Back in June of 2013,
I happened to be working

for a camp that summer
in between undergrad

and heading off to
Nashville to grad school.

First day of training, I
got caught up in a rope.

I tucked and rolled,

and I landed on my
head right about here,

kind of the crown of my head,

and on a rec center floor.

Everybody heard it,
they turned around,

and I was in pain, but nobody
did anything right away.

- The meds that were
being prescribed

were only making her more
fatigued and more disoriented.

- I literally lived
on their couch

for the next three months.

Trying to go outside
on the Fourth of July,

I didn't even last five minutes.

I was in so much pain,

not just physically, but
emotionally and mentally.

It got to a point
where I just said,

"Okay, I will go
under the knife."

I said, "There has to
be something else wrong.

"They're missing something.

"Just cut my brain
open and figure it out,

"because there's
something else going on.

"I will risk it."

- [Alan] My heart surgery
was over seven hours,

and it was very complicated.

My doctors told us
that I had the heart

of an 80 year old man.

- [Woman] So when the
cells in your brain

do not receive enough oxygen,

we could eventually
lose that tissue.

And that could happen
through a surgical procedure,

if somebody is not getting
enough blood flow to the brain.

- My wife did tell
me later that doctors

had told her that I
was serious enough

that the girls should be
called home from college,

and come see their father,

because it might
be the last time.

- It was a really
frightening experience.

I was away on spring break,
actually with friends.

And I got that call
you never want to get,

where they say "Get on the
next plane, it's an emergency."

- It took me years to recover.

It just was a very
difficult operation,

because they cracked open my
chest, moved all my organs,

put everything back
together again.

Because I was a such
a young person at 50,

they wanted to give me every
chance never to do this again.

The first time I
realized that I was

in trouble with my memory
was in Mass General

when my children
came in with my wife,

and I could remember
Jerry's name,

but I could not remember
Amy and Heather.

And I kept staring at them,

trying to remember
who they were.

And it was tough on me,
but it was tougher on them.

- And I was not
even 20 years old.

And I was very scared, the
scaredest I had ever been.

- I don't think people
who are not in pain

30 days a month, 365 days a year

can understand how you feel.

I have tremendous nightmares,

and I've hit Jerry in bed.

I've jumped out of bed

at least once a
month, for years.

I've banged my head
on the dresser.

I've broken a rib.

I became very depressed,

and I started to
see a psychiatrist.

And I told him many times that

I have to figure out
a way to kill myself.

- No matter when
the injury happened,

if it happened yesterday, or
if it happened 20 years ago,

the tissue's still inflamed.

But, the change in the
DNA is significant,

because what's being expressed

and what's being suppressed
over time, changes.

That being said,
you can still work

on the neuroinflammatory aspect.

You can still work on
the hormone aspect.

It just takes more time,

and it's more subtle.

The longer an injury
has been there,

the harder it is to recover.

- Just the surgery, the
coronary artery bypass surgery,

a lot of people don't know

that increases your
risk of memory problems.

You don't have
Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease would show

the back half of
your brain is dying.

But, your memory centers?

They're in trouble.

This is your temporal lobes.

That surgery was
involved in damaging

your hippocampus.

And they didn't
even tell you that

as one of the risk factors,

'cause they never do.

- No, and also for a year
they fought me about,

my memory would come back.

- Hippocampus is
Greek for seahorse,

and the hippocampus
is one of the very few

parts of your brain

that actually produces
new cells every day.

New little baby seahorses.

You create about 700 of them.

So there are many ways you
can grow these baby seahorses.

- Difference between a
vitamin and a hormone,

a vitamin works as a code factor

in a chemical reaction.

A hormone goes into
our genetic material

and turns on genetic
code to make things.

So in the past 10 years,

what they found out
about the vitamin D,

besides bone, anti-cancer,
more in women than in men.

anti-Alzheimer's, anti-dementia.

Raises the pain threshold,

protects the heart
from inflammation.

Helps the pancreas with
insulin production.

It helps the testicles
and the ovaries

with hormone production.

A combination of vitamin
D and pregnenolone

protect the brain.

- [Alan] With Dr.
Gordon's protocols so far,

there have been
some improvements.

I have not fallen out of bed

more than twice in
the last seven months.

And, my dreams have changed.

I'm calmer.

The only thing that's changed

are the different
pills that I'm taking

that Dr. Gordon has recommended.

And he recommended those

based on a complicated
system of blood tests.

- [Man] You know, he
gets the report back

and he's like, hey man you're
deficient on everything,

but we can fix this.

- We have a understanding of
what will benefit the patients

based upon doing
biomarkers, blood work,

which are specifically
tagging the brain functioning.

And what we've found relative
to neuroendocrinology,

specifically with stroke, is
that things like estradiol

help to regain the

by improving the
neuro communication.

Other things like
progesterone and pregnenolone,

these are neuroprotective,

and they can actually help
with regeneration of nerves.

(somber music)

- The first panic
attack I remember,

I was in the gym, just
training by myself.

It felt like
something like hit me.

Like I had the wind
knocked out of me.

And then I started
to hyperventilate,

became really, really dizzy.

So I had to sit down,
felt this wave of emotion

come on me after that.

That was the first one
that ever happened, man,

and I was just like hey, keep
it together and don't cry.

I didn't know what to do,
and it wasn't going away.

It was gettin' worse, so I
went to the liquor store,

bought liquor, and was just
drinking out of the bottle,

and driving, and trying to
slow that panic attack down.

- I couldn't drive for more
than a half an hour at a time

without getting dizzy,
and having double vision.

I think I described it to
my mom as two cinderblocks

just smashing my head together.

- I remember getting home,
and I was in the basement

of a buddy's house,
and I remember

their blacklights were
on, and no lights.

I pulled my rifle
out of my case,

and I put a round
in the chamber and,

and put the weapon off safe,

and I swallowed the barrel,

and looked in the
mirror and just bawled.

I was crying.

And I just saw my mom
staring over my casket.

- I was watching
my granddaughter

while my daughter was
out with her friends,

having her 20th birthday.

At that time, I just
was like, you know,

I want to check out,
I'm gonna to check out,

and I'm gonna make this happen,

holding grandbaby in
my arms, you know,

and lay on the floor so
when my daughter comes home,

she can have to live
the rest of her life

knowing that her
dad took his life

while he was watching her
daughter, our granddaughter.

That was pretty low,

and that was what I was doing.

So, absolutely
reckless, irrational.

My subconscious says,
I need, I need help.

You know, who do I call?

- There's things that
we all go through

that we don't necessarily
wanna talk about,

and bring to the forefront.

And they're hard, and
they're difficult,

and they're challenging.

There were things
that he brought up.

For one, sleeping
with loaded weapons

next to his pillowcase,

and how much he was drinking,
how close he was to suicide.

He didn't confide
those things in me.

- You raise your hand, you've
been this high performer

in situations that
are life and death.

My life has gone off the
rails, and I need help.

The first answer
was like, you know,

put him on an antianxiety pill.

Put him on a benzodiazepine,

put him on an antidepressant.

You can't sleep?

Put him on sleeping pills.

You can't stay awake?

Put him on methamphetamine.

- They pumped Xanax,
Lexapro, and Ambien

were the three
medications that I was on.

- I remember just trying
to look right, or left

with my eyes or my
head, and I couldn't.

And so I requested to
go to the hospital,

the scans came up clean.

They gave me Percocet,
and sent me on my way.

- The psychotherapy
begat more psychotherapy,

and the medication
begat more medication.

Throw in drinking, throw
in not sleeping well,

having a poor diet,
and everything else,

and now you have a true
recipe for disaster.

- I remember going
to sleep on a Monday,

and I woke up Tuesday
the next week.

My heart had stopped,
and I was in a coma.

- He would go upstairs
and just lay in the closet

in the fetal position,

and I was constantly telling
the kids to be quiet.

I didn't want them
to make any noise.

I didn't want them
to bother him.

I didn't know what to
do, so I left him alone.

I just had to let
him work it out.

I had no idea what
he was going through.

- And so the side
effects, and the symptoms

that I experience from, as a
result of these medications

were worse off than
when I started.

- Of course, he always
thought I was the crazy one.

I, and at one point I remember

standing in front of the
refrigerator and saying,

"You make me so angry,

"I just want to kill
myself," because...

(Becky sniffles)


- We're talking about
people that are ready

to end their lives,
because it's so bad.

Talking about people that,

no matter what kind of
thoughts they put in to like,

trying to be good,
or live a happy life,

or they love their family,

but when you have this
weight, and this gravity

that consumes you, no
matter what you want to do,

and you can't overcome it,
even as much as you want to,

and you're trying
everything you can do,

it's a miserable existence.

- My identity was
in special forces,

and that was taken away because
of the medical injuries.

And this is probably
gonna be the new you.

You're gonna be on
these medications,

take a pen and a pad
everywhere you go,

and learn how to live
within these new parameters.

(dramatic music)

- I must've been
eight or 10 years old

when I rode my first wave.

Mavericks is a particular wave
that's up in Half Moon Bay.

It's one of the biggest
waves in the world.

It's probably the most
challenging wave to paddle into.

And it's really, really famous.

And it's only an
hour from my house,

and the wave that I loved,

and spent 10 years straight
surfing every time it broke.

(waves crashing)

I remember surfing with
my dad, and my brother.

The first time he took me out,

riding that first
wave on my own,

and just being totally hooked.

(waves crashing)

When I started surfing

I must've been
about 25 years old.

It's pretty crazy to be

in the Guinness Book
of World Records.

I have two records in there,

and it was kind of
always the plan.

Like, when I surfed big waves,

my goal was always
to try to catch

the biggest wave in the world.

And I did that at Mavericks,

and I cut a 55 footer,
set a world record,

and that was incredible.

And then I did it two
years later at Cortes Bank.

I caught a 61 foot wave,
and broke the record again.

So, you know, for me,
it's just something

that I'll always remember.

Like, set two world records?

That's crazy.

Like, a childhood dream
come true type of thing.

- We'd go up there
and watch the contest,

and you kinda just
hold your breath

until he's out safe, you know?

- You know, you fall
all the time surfing,

not that big of a deal,

but surfing some
pretty hazardous waves.

So, from the brain
scans that I've done,

they show that
I've had hundreds,

if not thousands of concussions.

- The actual definition
of concussion

is a biomechanical
force to the head

that results in
pathophysiological changes.

And so these changes
can be as simple as

lack of blood flow
to that tissue.

It can again be the shearing
and tearing of the neurons,

the stretching of the axons.

(dramatic music)

- The big concussion, the
big TBI that I suffered

this most significant
damage from

was coming up here
to three years.

It was, I was surfing
down in Big Sur,

and I went head
first into a rock,

and I broke my neck
in four places.

I barely stayed conscious,

and I was in a
really bad situation.

Long story short was I survived.

Broken neck was what
everyone was worried about,

but to me, it was my
brain wasn't working.

Everything was off,
everything was really bad.

It was really
dark, it was scary.

But, I didn't have my
neck collar on anymore

after like four months, and
everyone thinks I'm fine.

Meanwhile, my life is
an absolute disaster,

but they can't see it.

That impact into that
rock was kind of the straw

that broke the camel's back.

My brain just collapsed.

I was becoming such a,

like a virus to my family

that it wasn't fair
for me to be here.

Even though they
wouldn't want that, but.

- [Woman] Did you ever
feel like killing yourself

- [Shawn] Yeah, many times.

- [Woman] How were you thinking,
or what were you thinking?

(Shawn sighs)

- Swim out in the ocean,
and just drown myself.

I mean, I knew how to barely
stay alive from drowning.

I knew what it would be like,

and it just seemed
like all I gotta do

is just hold my breath,
and I can do that.

I dunno, it was just like I had,

I didn't wanna do that,

but it became like an obsession.

I couldn't turn
off that message,

that the only way out
of this is just to go.

(emotional music)

- So initially, when
Shawn came to see us,

he was depressed, and hopeless.

Had memory problems
and brain fog.

- He was up all night
from the pain meds

giving him insomnia.

And she was up all night.

So, I literally didn't sleep.

And then we had him in
the day to you know,

get off to school and
hand feed Shawn breakfast.

But every time we have

something tough in
life, we get through it.

- It was, it was terrifying.

It was every day I was scared.

- The phone call that I
received was devastating,

where she said what
had happened to her,

that she was raped.

It was night, and she
said she was kind of

at the end of her rope, and
she was gonna take her life.

(emotional music)

And my heart stopped,
I couldn't breathe.

It was just like, somebody
punched me right in the stomach.

- It got real quiet.

And I looked in, and
he was physically

kind of leaning over, like
he did get sucker punched,

and it was, I just,
I'll never forget it.

But I heard him
say three things.

Annie, not in words, but in,

in how he reacted.

I believe you, go report
this, and we've got your back.

- You know, I asked
her, did you report it?

Did you tell anyone?

And her response was,
"Well, everyone knows."

What do you mean everyone knows?

Oh my roommates, my
counselor, my coaches.

- [Annie] High school
years, I was very focused

on doing really good in school.

Soccer became very
intense in high school.

- [Russ] Annie and
I were always close.

I was her first coach.

So it's easier for her
and I to communicate.

We see many of the same goals.

In fact, our family
goals are very similar.

- [Annie] My top three choices

were Navy, Princeton,
and Harvard.

And after doing some
recruiting travels

up to each of the schools,

I really noticed that
the Naval Academy

had a great balance of
education, as well as athletics.

The leadership
acquired as a woman,

I thought would be very
valuable down the line for me.

- Ultimately, the
decision was hers.

It was, it was her choice.

- About a month in, I went
to a lacrosse house party.

I was invited by my soccer
teammates, and I went there.

There was a lot of alcohol.

There was a lot of
people I did not know.

Served drinks, after
drinks, after drinks.

And eventually, just went
and passed out in a room,

and woke up the next morning
to find that I was raped.

(somber music)

And so what I did was just
really compartmentalize

what had happened to me
in the back of my brain,

shoved it in what
I call a closet,

and locked the door, and
just tried to move on

as best as I could, to be
as successful as I could.

- The chaplain of
the Naval Academy

who was an officer escorted
her back to her company,

reported her, turned her
in, provided no counseling.

Imagine a man, my
age, mid fifties,

telling a 19 year
old rape victim

to suck it up, to grow up.

- And I would
continue going back

with just these feelings
of depression, anxiety,

suicidal ideations.

And they would just keep
upping and upping the dose,

until it got to a point
where I wasn't sleeping.

I mean, it was, it was terrible.

- She had to go in and
give her story to the NCIS,

and I accompanied her to that.

And then she, she had to,

she gave her story
to this commander,

this woman late in the evening.

As we were leaving, I said,

"Now Annie, is there anything
else you have to tell me?"

I mean, is there anything else?

And she said, "Well,
it happened again."

I'm like, what?

And I call, I had that
woman's phone number,

the commander woman, I call her.

I said, "All right, ma'am are
you still in your office?"


I said, "We will be right back.

"My daughter just informed me
there's been another rape."

I just couldn't believe

what the hell is going
on at that place?

And so, and then she, Annie
reported the second one

to her in detail,

and then she had to go
report that again to NCIS.

(dramatic music)

- The military is very good
for having this brotherhood.

We all stick together.

In fact, they have this
motto in the Marine Corps,

no man left behind.

But they leave women
behind all the time.

In fact, that's kind of
their unofficial motto,

leave the women behind.

So there is no sisterhood.

- Not one of those
military women

said anything to
Annie, like, you know,

very proud of you for your
courage to speak the truth.

Not one.

I was in shock that there
was, there's just no support.

- These feelings of suicide
just became so great

that I didn't feel safe
being alone anymore.

And I told my company officers,

and they immediately
sent me to a psych ward.

I stayed there for several days,

and they diagnosed
me with what's called

borderline personality disorder.

And this is something that
they consider a condition,

not a disability.

And I felt that they
quickly, quickly, you know,

tried to push me out.

- When Annie was separated
from the Naval Academy,

and if you read her
discharge papers,

and the meeting minutes from
her academic review board

were the entire hearing was
about her medical condition.

Well, wait a minute,

there was no medical doctors
present at her review board.

They broke so many laws,
which are right now

being investigated by Congress.

So we're, we're gonna
get to the bottom of it.

- The Navy continues to
defend the ever growing claims

of military sexual assaults
at the Naval Academy as small,

and that those women
who reported being raped

were just mentally ill.

How shameful.

- Neurotrauma, it's
a chemical reaction.

And that chemical
reaction will impede,

or interrupt the normal
chemistry of the brain.

And it's that interruption
of the normal chemistry

of the brain that leads to
things like personality change,

cognitive, memory, mood changes.

- [Man] When you see
somebody going through that,

and becoming a shell of
the person they were,

it's incredibly difficult,

and you feel even more
helpless than they do.

- [Reporter] Startling figures

straight from the US government

show one out of
three women soldiers

are sexually assaulted
in the military.

- You're changing
people's future.

You're literally
giving them an option

that they didn't know existed.

They thought their
world was black.

And then you open a door and
like, oh, you can be okay.

- The key that drives me on this

is guys getting back into life,

going to Pepperdine
Business School now.

Guy who was, attempted
school five times,

and the fifth time he
was on our protocol

for two or three months,
he ends up getting honors.

- So the challenge
was to figure out

how to make life worth
living again, right?

And it was a
decision, bottom line.

And I think that's, that's
the human experience.

It's not specific to me.

Our son had a genetic lymphatic
malformation in his neck.

He's like 13 months old.

So we had to take him
to the emergency room.

My calf had been killing
me for about three days,

and then Becky goes into labor.

So I'm going back and forth

between the fifth floor
and the second floor,

and I'm like dragging
my leg at this point.

Well, we get Jace
out of surgery.

We have our son, Joe
Joe, he's good to go.

And then it turns out
they finally rushed me

into imaging, and I had
a blood clot in my leg,

and it's broken off
into both lungs.

So now I have a bilateral
pulmonary embolism.

- Jesus Christ.

- And at this point,
they're like hey man,

we have a very
small window here.

This is very high
mortality rate.

It wasn't a big deal
to me, you know?

It was like, you guys think
that this is going to kill me,

you're gonna have to get in line

'cause it's not happening.

And I remember I got to
go down and visit my son

in emergency recovery.

I had an airplane
bottle of whiskey,

and I popped the last
pain pill I ever took.

I had this epiphany
that hey, if I continue

on this same track,
it's gonna kill me,

and it's gonna ruin
everything that I love.

And so I made the promise to
my son right then and there

that I was gonna get
off all medication.

And I was gonna return to the
man of my pre-injury status.

I was going to find
a way to heal myself.

I don't care how,
I don't know how,

but I've had enough.

So I started going and looking
for alternative therapies.

- [Gordon] Andrew's a
very unique individual.

He was almost a conundrum
when he arrived,

because he's such a
personable person.

And that's something
you don't often see

in patients that have
significant injury.

And he was receiving
multiple hours of therapy,

and throughout the time,
vestibular rehabilitation,

gaze exercises, physical
therapy, chiropractic care.

- When Dr. Gordon first
reached out to me,

I thought it was comical.

'Cause you know, he was, you
listed out his credentials

that he wanted to help,

that they'd been treating TBI,

that they had a
legitimate answer,

and that, you know, they've
enlisted this answer

with massive success
over the years.

And he, he wrapped
it up as saying,

oh yeah, and by the
way, I'm not a kook,

in case you're worried.

And I was like, oh, this guy's
hilarious, if nothing else.

So, then I looked
at some of the media

that he suggested, and I
started to get really excited

and I saw the validity,

and the utility in what
he was doing and applying.

- My focus was in the
area of neuroendocrinology

looking at the influence of
hormones on the brain function.

And the precipitated deficiency
caused by the trauma.

The hormones produced in the
brain called the neurosteroids,

they have the immediate effect

because they influence
the membranes

of neurons to do things.

- And life slowly and surely
started to turn back on.

- [Man] When Andrew finally
started to get to a point

where he was becoming
more of his old self,

and he said, I have
so many brothers.

We need to have a
foundation that helps them.

And I said, dude, I'm
right there with you.

- He just decided that I'm
gonna start a foundation

to help these guys get the
treatment that they need,

because they're not getting it

through the
conventional methods.

And so that was the beginning
of Warrior Angels Foundation.

- When Adam came
to me and told me

he wanted to get
out of the military

to pursue Warrior Angels
Foundation, I was terrified,

because we were leaving
all the security

that the military offered,

and you know, the steady
paycheck, and the benefits.

I mean it turned out to
be this amazing mission

that's come true, and so many
people are being helped now.

- I feel like me and
my brothers, all of
'em in our own way

were like binary stars in
that we have this gravity

and energy that pulls
from one another.

I feel their pain.

I feel their joy.

Like, we share in life's
wonderful splendor together,

and then we travel through

the depths of despair
together, as well.

We're working towards
widespread implementation

within the military, the DOD,

the Veterans Affairs, the NFL,

the NCAA, the NHL.

- And now I'm
excited to say, man,

three years later,
we've delivered it

to over 200 people with
incredible results.

So it meets with the
scientific criteria.

We can predict, we can measure,

and we can replicate.

And now it's not just my story.

Mark's done this
like 1,400 times.

- Many veterans still
struggling to adjust

to life back home.

Now, two veteran brothers
are offering hope and healing

the invisible wounds of war.

Fox News, medical A team
Dr. Mark Siegel joins us now

with retired Green
Beret, Andrew Marr,

and his brother and
former Army Apache pilot,

the co-founders of the
Warrior Angels Foundation.

- I'm the one who
actually saw a news,

think it was "Fox and
Friends," or something.

There was this new thing
for PTSD, stick with us,

and so I recorded it.

I was like, oh my god,
this is in Grapevine,

which is 10 minutes from us.

So, it seemed like a no
brainer to reach out to them.

- We said, you know
what, what the hell?

Let's just reach out.

Let's see if maybe
we can meet him,

maybe I can involved
in this program.

Andrew actually came over
to my parents' house.

He showed us this video all
about what he was going through,

and what the treatment was like.

He explained everything,
and it was shortly after

where I did get in touch
with Dr. Gordon himself,

and he explained how
the protocols worked,

and I had to get
a blood test done.

Do you, is there a
noticeable difference

between those of us, like I
wasn't a blast trauma victim.

I didn't go and do
any tours of duty.

I was sexual assault
victim, I was raped,

and I wasn't necessarily
conscious during those events.

Is there a difference
that you see

between those of us who
have that sort of trauma

versus a physical, you
know, like a blast trauma?

- Right, no, it's
a good question.

All those peripheral things,

and I apologize for
making it seem little,

but all those
peripheral things end up

creating the same kind
of biochemical trauma

in the brain, whether or
not there was a blast,

or your head was hit, or you
were physically assaulted,

and the head was involved,
or the body was involved.

It elicits the same inflammation

that occurs like say
in Alzheimer's disease.

And Parkinson's, they're
all inflammatory illnesses.

- It was all natural
and primarily vitamins,

and hormone replacement.

- Everything is FDA approved.

Everything is being used
at physiological levels.

I think I shared with
you on a past show

that we use a blended
testosterone injectable

that we developed
about 14 years ago.

- It did take some time.

It wasn't something like how
the pharmaceuticals work,

where it kicks in within,
you know, a month.

- We have to first go from the
effects of every medication

to a starting point.

And sometimes that's the delay,

and it all depends
on how you responded

to how many medications
you were on.

- So at that point,
I began weaning off

of the pharmaceuticals.

The VA had me on this
thing called Effexor,

which I was on for little
bit at the Naval Academy.

And that was just
terrible getting off of.

It was a very, you had
to get off very slowly.

It was something that
Dr. Gordon knew about.

He supported me
getting off of it,

but we had to do it at a pace

that my body could handle.

And so, I was probably
maybe eight to 12 months

into the protocol
when I was officially,

100% off of every
pharmaceutical drug.

- You know, part of
my problem too is

from the broken neck, I was on
an insane amount of opioids.

I, by December I weaned
myself off of them,

just because it
wasn't helping me.

I was going crazy on that stuff.

Like, I don't do
well on that stuff.

- [Gordon] Shawn had
no idea, had really,

until he had his injury,

never really thought
about his brain.

- I made my appointment
and I went and saw them,

and I really learned
a lot about my injury,

and learned a lot
about where I was.

And I learned, they got me
on a path to start healing,

which led me down
this amazing road.

- I practice an
integrative approach,

looking to see how
I can help patients

really find that
holistic approach

that's going to help them most.

So, hyperbaric oxygen therapy
works in a couple ways.

It works by decreasing

That's probably the
biggest thing it does.

It does that acutely.

It does it immediately.

So by going into the chamber,

you are decreasing
inflammation everywhere.

Because if you've
had an acute injury,

and you have swelling,
and you have inflammation,

and some of those blood
vessels aren't working anymore,

but you have some that are,

those blood vessels
that are can diffuse in,

and prevent all that
tissue from breaking down,

which can be huge for
somebody's recovery.

We're talking about
a brain here, right?

We're talking about a brain
that every single piece

of real estate is
extremely important.

So you don't want
to mess with that.

So that's why I often
recommend different protocols

depending on what's going on.

So Shawn, for example,

all these mildly concussive
injuries that he had surfing.

Or Andrew, with these
maybe mild to moderate

concussive injuries
from IED blasts.

He didn't have any
symptoms right away,

but either, it was the last
injury for Shawn that did it.

Or for Andrew, it was
just a cumulative process

that he just didn't
notice it was happening.

But it's all of that over time,

or the single hit at the end

that throws you over the edge.

You've had these pebbles,

and then all of a sudden, the
pebbles have all these ripples

and the ripples aren't
working, and all that brain

is just hibernating,
it's not working.

It's stunned, and then bam,
your executive function goes.

Your personality changes.

You start having
violent tempers.

- Dr. Sherr was just like,
you're not doing hyperbaric yet?

You need to do it,
like come to my clinic.

We'll get you in right away.

I'm not really able to
make rational decisions,

so it was like
hyperbaric, whatever,

okay I'll try it, you know?

And the first time I got in
the chamber was incredible.

I came out feeling so
much better, clearer,

like a huge,
noticeable difference.

It felt like if I
described my recovery,

like at that first hyperbaric,

I felt like I had maybe
like a 25% recovery.

It was just finally my brain
got oxygen, and fresh blood.

And so I was going
five days a week,

and I was doing it twice a day.

- So we do a study

called brain SPECT
imaging, S-P-E-C-T.

And SPECT is a
nuclear medicine study

that looks at blood
flow and activity.

It looks at how
your brain works.

It's different from
a CAT scan or an MRI.

Those are anatomy studies.

They show what the brain
actually physically looks like.

We're looking at function.

And SPECT is a leading indicator

of trouble where
an MRI or CT scans

are lagging
indicators of trouble.

So it'll tell you
trouble is calming.

It'll also tell you
well, how much better

can I make this brain?

- 10 years later, I was
still on the program

and significant improvement.

Now after 10 years, he
scanned my brain again,

and like I was tellin'
folks in our little circles,

he was so happy to see
the results of my scan

after 10 years.

You know how some people say,

yeah I'm taking it, doc.

I'm doing this, I'm
taking them things,

and you say okay, and they know,

from their medical background,
that you're not doing it.

But when he saw my brain,

he knew that I was taking
it religiously every day.

And he was like, to me, he was
like a kid in a candy store.

'Cause he saw the results.

I really didn't know.

I'm not a doctor.

I just know I feel good.

And I'm a common sense guy.

I feel good, and I'm
functioning better.

- One of the reasons I love
seeing professional athletes

is they like being coached.

And Anthony's the most
coachable of all of my patients.

- If you play the game, you
have to treat the brain.

If you don't treat the
brain, the brain will fade.

If you don't treat the brain,

the brain will die.

For any you NFL players,

when you're playing to this day,

what you need to do,

you need to be on
this kind of program.

Preventative measures
to take care of you,

because anybody who puts
a helmet on their head

has brain trauma.

I don't care who you are.

I don't care if
you play five years

in the National Football League,

10 years, 15 years, 20 years.

I can't conceive it now

based on what I know
about brain trauma.

What you need to do, you
need to get out of the game.

When you retire, first
thing you need to do

is go find out about
your brain function.

- They finally are
seeing that trauma

will cause the appearance
of Alzheimer's disease.

In fact, the NFL did a
study some years back,

just within five years,

where they found that if a
player had one concussion

on the field, that they
were 19 times more at risk

of developing Alzheimer's
between 30 and 49 years of age,

because of inflammation.

- And if you're gonna play,

you should be on
a rehabilitation
program all the time.

'Cause the fact is, they're
brain damaging jobs.

Being a firefighter is
clearly a brain damaging job.

Almost every
firefighter I've scanned

has a toxic looking brain.

- [Man] So you have
no idea right now?

- [Woman] Oh there's another
one, another plane just hit!

Oh my god, another plane has
just hit another building.

(sirens wailing)

- [Reporter] All operations
at the New York Airport

seem to be secured.

John F. Kennedy International--

(people screaming)
(somber music)

- On the morning of 9/11, 2001,

I was in Brooklyn.

(horn blaring)

The bells went off, and we went,

and we queued up at the
Brooklyn-Battery tunnel.

(people screaming)

We had witnessed the one tower
fall from the other side.

- [Man] Oh my god!

- And we proceeded
through on foot,

as the second tower came down,

we ended up on the other side.

There was very few survivors.

We lost 343
firefighters that day.

The largest loss of
life that FDNY has ever

gone through in our history.

(emotional music)

Survivor guilt is
a big thing I think

that a lot of guys
are dealing with,

and I'm sure a lot of people
have gone through that.

But, to be able to
hold your daughter,

or see your loved
ones when someone else

didn't have that opportunity
is very overwhelming.

So you question why.

(sirens wailing)

I think it's a
process that happens,

and from talking to
other firefighters,

and folks that were
there, it's funny,

like you feel it in your body

when you get close
to September 11th.

You would think that it
would get easier, but.

- 9/11 every anniversary,
it's very hard.

The day you just feel
it's very somber,

and especially when my
parents were still together,

and he was living in the house.

He would just sit
and just watch the,

you know, the names
being read off

of all the people
that had passed.

And it was just very hard to see

someone that you love still
battling those demons,

and everything that happened.

And you know, it still
affects him today.

- We're exposed to amazingly
difficult situations,

both physically, with
exposure to chemicals,

which was secondary to us.

And the loss of life,
and all the funerals

that needed to be tended to.

- Grief can absolutely impact
your deep limbic centers,

as well as your anxiety centers.

And the closer we
are to that person,

that hurt, that loss,

that profound sense of
loss, our perception of it,

and we sort of turn it inward,

can really be for some
people, very debilitating.

- But if you have
crushing depression,

no one looks at your brain.

If your bones hurt, they're
going to do an MRI on them,

but if your behavior is so bad

your wife wants to divorce you,

no one's gonna
look at your brain.

I mean, it's really insane
when you think about it.

- And you're not aware of
it, that's the problem.

And the other person's
not aware of it either,

unless they're a TBI,
you know, professional,

and you know, that's part of
the whole journey in life.

You don't know what you
don't know until you know it.

- I was 16 years old
and my parents split up,

and I remember every
little detail about it.

- I didn't want it to happen.

But I didn't really realize
that it wasn't my choice.

- I have three
amazing daughters.

That's why I'm here.


Oh, look at this!


I was blessed to be present

for all three of my
children's births

and coming into the world,

and it is just an
amazing experience,

and you just have a steel
cable bond at that point,

and that's it.

Well even off of here, and
bounce it off to make it--

You know, you gotta protect 'em.

You can't believe these gifts,

and I look at them as gifts.

I don't look at them as my own.

- There's always the
brighter end of the tunnel,

and that you could always
get through something

when you're together
with your family,

and I think that's
what we really did

going through those times.

- I never heard of TBI
being the silent killer,

but I've been lucky enough

to find out that

traumatic brain injury
affects you pretty adversely.

And I went through my
adverse times with it,

and not knowing it.

Headaches, frustration,

being short.

I, my brain just
wasn't working right,

so I I'd have a conversation

and I'd be like, uh,

and then right,
they'd go Sebby, uh?

You know, and I couldn't
even speak sometimes

because of whatever was
going on in my head,

and I had that
thousand mile stare,

and a lot of cloudiness.

- Mark Rypien's one of the
Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks.

His brain was terrible
when we first met him.

- There was a period of time

where I literally had no hope.

I thought that Mark was on the
downward decline so rapidly

that he would probably
be institutionalized
within the year.

- But I think it
was three years ago

that I took those brain scans.

And then, most recently here,

Dr. Gordon filled out
some paperwork with him,

and the hormone blood evaluation

to get some of
the hormone things

that are gonna benefit me.

So it'll definitely
help the brain,

and its ability to heal.

And then I'm about halfway
through my treatments

with TMS, transcranial
magnetic stimulation therapy.

- Gonna put the sticky thing on.

- Is this from our
mapping we did last week?

- Yes.

And we're gonna put you
in the same position

as we did, so we make
sure to get the motor.

- Mark Rypien has come to see us

to treat both his
depression and anxiety.

What we have found is that
when people are depressed,

that pathway has
become dysfunctional.

And in our treatment, it takes
nearly 30 treatment sessions,

using a process we
call neuroplasticity,

we're able to essentially
get that connectivity

back functioning again.

So, what we do with transcranial
magnetic stimulation,

we use a magnetic pulse

to stimulate brain
cells to cause them

to depolarize, or fire.

And then we get a domino effect.

One cell fires, the
next fires, the next.

And it's a cascade that
goes down through circuitry,

down through the limbic system

that affects different
parts of the brain.

We were the first, and may
still be the only clinic

that received
validation from the VA.

We can treat VA
patients anywhere.

This is a group of
patients, as a veteran,

I have a great deal
of empathy for.

(dramatic music)

- I got an email
from one of the guys

who had listened to our
last podcast with Joe Rogan,

and he sends in, he says,
"I watched your program,

"and what Andrew was
saying was exactly

"what I was going through.

"I went to a store and
I bought pregnenolone,

"and I've started using it.

"It's two weeks,
the anxiety's gone."

- I've had about five
emails just like that.

- Unbelievable!
- Yep.

- Three months in,
how did you feel

and what was the difference?

- I felt night
and day different.

No more anxiety,
no more depression,

no more balance issues,
no more double vision,

no more blurry vision, no
more migraine headaches.

- Something is different.

We just had a 45 minute
phone conversation,

and he had not
talked to any of us

more than what he had had to.

There were no conversations
anymore with Andrew.

- I felt like myself again.

I'm off all medication.

You know, I'm clean, I'm sober,

performing as good,
if not better than
my pre-injury status.

The Warrior Angels
Foundation, three years later,

we've delivered
healing to other people

who were in the exact same
predicament and situation

with incredible results.

- You were looking for
someone that does what I do.

I was looking for
someone like you.

And we met in the cloud.

- On social media,
I saw that Andrew

started the Warrior
Angels Foundation.

My wife was there and I'm like,

I know that guy, I know
that guy, it's Andrew Marr!

But you know, he had this like
big beard and longer hair,

so it took me a second
too, to recognize him.

But, you know, he's
pretty big human being

and with tattoos.

And it's like, yeah I know him.

And told him, I was like, look,

everybody thinks my
life is incredible.

I'm like, but it's tough, man.

It is brutal for me to
get through these days.

I don't sleep at night.

I'm in pain all the time.

I'm beginning to have
these panic attacks.

And during that time,

I was pushed
physically and mentally

beyond anything that I
thought was humanly possible.

You know, I went an entire
week without eating.

I didn't sleep for three days.

I lost 30 pounds in one month
during a training iteration.

At the end of it, you
know, just realized

what I was capable of doing.

- When Kevin was first
deployed, it was scary.

Like you kind of
prepare yourself,

but you don't know how it feels

until it actually happens.

- What got me through all the
time, when he was deployed,

is I would send something in
the mail to him, every day.

- My team and our
Afghan commandos

were tasked to do a
valley clearing operation

in the northwestern
part of the country.

In the tenth hour, I
found myself on a rooftop,

so I went around the
corner of the building,

and all of a sudden
it felt like somebody

hit me in the stomach
with a sledgehammer.

I was just suspended in midair.

- Up gently underneath,
like turn this out, okay?

- All right.

- Gently, pull him gently.

All right, go ahead, keep
pulling, you got this.

- I was conscious the entire
time that I was being treated,

and when they pulled
me behind the building,

my teammates began flooding in,

and just started
frantically working on me.

They were so focused
on saving my life,

they forgot to give
me my pain meds.

I said, you guys better give
him my fucking morphine.

- Everybody stay calm, man.

He's gonna be fine.

(men chattering)

Everybody work
together and stay calm.

- [Soldier] Returning fire!

(guns firing)

- They had to go through
these open fields,

and kind of navigate their way

through this maze-like
Afghan village.

The whole while, they're getting
shot at and returning fire.

- I got the phone call, I
think it was a Sunday morning,

maybe about like seven,
so I was still sleeping.

So I thought it
was Kevin calling,

and then it was Adam,
and then it's like,

it's strange that
Adam would call,

but we're friends,
so I didn't think,

I was kind of groggy and
didn't think a whole lot of it.

What's up?

He was like, "Well,
everything's okay."

I call it now the
it's okay sandwich.

So he said, "Everything's
okay, Kevin got shot,

"but everything's okay."

- That first surgery
tent that I went to

was a place called BMG, the
Bala Murghab river valley.

From that surgery tent,
I went to Herat airfield.

From Herat to Bagram,
and then from Bagram

I went to Landstuhl in Germany,

and that's where I woke up.

In Germany it was kind
of like this blur for me.

I had a friend that was there

who was convalescing
from his wounds.

He had gotten hit
with two grenades,

so it was great to have
this one person, at least,

that I knew, and
after a couple minutes

he gave me the best advice.

He was like hey, listen Kevin,

plenty of people have been shot.

Don't be a fucking
pussy about this.

(tense music)

I had spent so much time
away on deployments,

and then I come
back very injured.

And she was giving
me a sponge bath,

and I just said
to her, hey look,

do you wanna just get a
divorce here, or what?

- Are you fucking kidding me?

You think I went
through all of this,

and now you're getting out,
and now I'm gonna leave?


- She looks at me, she's
like, "No, asshole.

"I'm giving you a sponge bath,
of course I don't want to."

- When he told me about
Dr. Gordon's protocol,

I was really skeptical at first,

and started talking
about adjusting hormones.

Like, that affects, it goes
everywhere in your body,

so you just don't know

what kind of effect
it's going to have.

So, it was kind of
scary to think about,

but he was at the
point where he's like,

I don't know if I can
physically keep up

with working a full time job.

- He sent me a protocol
based specifically

off of my lab results.

And my results showed
very low testosterone,

low growth hormone.

My adrenal glands, you know,
really weren't working.

My cortisol levels
were through the roof.

My thyroid was not functioning.

I had very low vitamin D levels.

And so he sent me a program

to basically counteract that.

When I started the
protocol from Dr. Gordon,

I was actually away on work.

And so a month time, you know,
elapsed before I went home.

And when I got home,
my wife noticed

a very big difference in me

in terms of my energy
levels, just seemed happier.

You know, wasn't as quick
to trigger to anger,

and I also just felt like
I was back to normal.

Like I was back to my old self,

and you know, really
just kind of felt like

I had my old life and self back.

You were the first person
that ended up saying

all right, well, let's do
this full blood workup.

Let's take a look at this stuff.

And it felt good
almost instantly,

just because I was like
well, I'm not crazy.

Like there is something
that's actually wrong with me.

- I had just done 80
hyperbaric chambers,

so I was feeling way better,

but I figured that
I was going to

look a lot better on my scan.

And disappointingly, I didn't.

I didn't look really any better.

I mean, even though
I felt better,

and I knew that
we'd done better,

I still had so much damage.

- And that's where you have
to go after all of the things

that traumatic brain
injury can hurt.

- It caught Dr.
Amen by surprise.

It caught Dr. Sherr by surprise.

It kind of was like, I'm
a healthy individual,

I'm on an insanely
good food regiment.

You know, everything.

Like I should be improving.

Dr. Amen's one
recommendation to me

was you should go talk to
a doctor named Dr. Gordon,

and it was like, whoa, that's
who Sherr is recommending.

- Articles have come
out talking about this

treatment resistance,
or atypical depression.

In an article that
I gave just recently

to a group of both military
and civilian physicians

was the fact that this
atypical depression,

a form of depression that
medication did not seem to help,

that it turned out
that 61% of them

were growth hormone deficient.

And within one to two
months of replenishing

the growth hormone, their
depression disappeared.

And then they had
positive side effects.

- The beauty of doing
hormone management,

if you're Dr. Gordon,

is that you can get people
better, relatively fast,

and then they wanna
take a dive in.

They wanna take a deeper dive

into how they can
really manifest this,

or sustain it over
the long term.

- The hormones, all the
deficiencies in my body

were being taken care of.

And it was incredible.

Like I just kept getting
better, and better, and better.

- The way that I see
the hormones of the
body is like a car.

Someone gives you a brand
new Ford pickup truck,

and all four tires are deflated.

They're flat.

You get to choose what
tire you want to fill up,

and therefore drive.

Obviously, it's
not gonna happen.

Let's fill up two
tires, okay three.

Let's go with three
and a half tires,

and try and drive away.

Well, the hormones in our body

are the exact same way.

You need to have all the
hormones at optimal levels

in order for our body
to run through life,

drive through life with quality.

(gentle music)

- I was going to get a
flight for Julianna and I

to go out to this
place in Canada,

and get her some
prayer for healing.

I heard a quiet voice
within inside of me,

just wait one more day.

The next morning,

the first phone
call was from Keith.

Bryan, I have a doctor that
I think can help Julianna,

if you can get her out
here in the next two weeks.

And he's the only one that
ever looked at her blood work

to understand how her body

was unbalanced in
terms of its chemistry.

- People are being
confused by the use

of the term traumatic
brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury
they think is associated

with loss of consciousness,
being knocked down,

being in a coma, having
nausea, vomiting,

or confusion or amnesia.

But TBI has a mild form,
has a moderate form,

and a severe form.

All of them lead to the same
process of inflammation,

and the loss of hormones.

- After three months of
treating with Dr. Gordon,

I mean, things changed
around pretty quickly.

I was able to get out of bed.

I was able to think
about exercising again.

The headaches and the pain
had decreased tremendously.

My spirits were lifted.

I mean, anxiety
stayed a little bit,

but was just so much
better than it had been.

- She's been the
healthiest we've ever seen.

We're very hopeful,

because she's at a
great point right now.

We can see her progress,

and her attitude
towards life improving.

This year is certainly
much better than last year,

and the year before,
and et cetera.

She's in the best
place she's ever been.

- After I came back from Iraq,

I ended up taking myself
off that medication

because it was not
working for me.

I was still in a bad spot.

And I remember
telling a commander

I had done this, and he
basically chewed my ass, right?

Like, what are you doing?

This, you're not, no.

You were directed
to take this stuff.

You need to take it.

This is gonna help.

(gentle piano music)

- A friend of his
brought a piano

into his little tiny
apartment thing,

because he was holed
up there like a hermit,

and he had nothing else to do,

but to turn on a little radio

and learn how to play the piano.

With him constantly
practicing on that,

I started seeing
little glimmers of hope

for him and his brain.

He had excitement about
Mom, look what I can do.

Look at this, this is so weird.

Prior to this, Ben had
never read sheet music

or picked up an instrument.

And so, he just kept practicing
off of what he could hear,

and what he could
feel from playing.

No sheet music.

And he got better
and better with that.

But what I started seeing in him

is that he started to go out
of the house a little bit.

Like, I could get him to go
to the grocery store with me

to get his groceries.

I don't know what
happened in the brain,

with the music, and what
he was concentrating on,

but it started instilling
a little bit of confidence,

a little bit of value,
a little bit of worth.

I have something here.

And so he would stay in that.

No one else was in his life
doing anything with him,

but him and his music.

And one day I went
over there and he said,

"Mom, listen.

"I learned this song," and he
played the song to "Titanic,"

and it just blew me away
'cause I'm looking at this kid

who's been holed up
doing nothing in life,

and then so beautifully
can come across a piano

when he's never
played in his life.

(emotional music)

- [Alan] Well, very recently
I met this firefighter

who was one of the first
responders at 9/11.

His memory is shot.

My memory is shot.

Do you mind if I ask you
about the hyperbaric chamber?

- Not at all.

My first time, I felt,

I felt lighter when
I got out of there.

The first time was
scary going in.

And then the subsequent
times, you get used to it.

You look forward to it.

It's all a matter of
what you get used to.

- When my dad goes
through the therapy,

and when he gets his treatments,

you notice it right away.

And I think, you know, he
just has a better demeanor.

- A doctor that I was
seeing who ended up

being a very, very
good friend of mine,

knew about my
concussive history,

and all of the issues
that I went through.

And he said, Sebby, you know,

you really would benefit from
hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

- There are 14 insurable
conditions in the United States

which are Medicare approved,

and there are approximately
65 additional indications

which are not approved.

And are used, as well,
all over the world

for those various conditions,

which include
traumatic brain injury,

post traumatic stress,

all of the neurological
presentations, amongst others,

including cancer and autism.

- The Israelis have the largest

hyperbaric program in the world.

They're doing the most studies.

They're doing the most patients.

They're seeing over
200 patients a day.

They have what's called
a multiplace chamber,

which is where many
people can get treated

all at the same time.

And what they've seen
is that if you do

a full protocol of
hyperbaric therapy,

you can regenerate the brain.

You can regenerate the heart,

but the Israelis are
really paving the way.

The last I heard,
there are 20,000 people

on their waiting
list to be treated.

And that runs the gamut
from rejuvenation protocols

to patients with
traumatic brain injury,

and everything in between.

- Hyperbarics is an
underutilized service

in the United States of America.

And one can only guess why.

I mean, my own
crazy mind, I say,

well you can't patent oxygen,

so you can't make
money on oxygen.

So therefore, the
research and development

in relationship to
hyperbarics possibly is not

as aggressive as it
would be otherwise.

We're now seeing it start to
evolve very significantly.

It's Asia, Russia,
China, and Japan.

That's where they
seem to be doing

a lot of significant work
in regards to hyperbaric.

My expectation would be,

of the MRIs of 30
to 40 years ago,

so will hyperbarics
be in five to 10.

Seven years ago, no one
knew what hyperbarics was.

And now you're starting to
see little blips everywhere,

particularly when it comes
to concussion injuries.

And particularly when
it comes to veterans.

- For me, it was
really, really wild.

First time I sat down,

I said something
really crazy to them.

And they said, it's not crazy.

I thought it was,
I was embarrassed.

I said, "I feel like my
brain is touching my skull,"

in a silly way.

Like, I feel like
so much pressure.

I can't even touch my head.

I don't feel as sore,

you know, in my
head, in my body.

And it was, for me, it was
a very impactful thing.

And I bought into it right away.

- After hyperbaric
hormone therapy,

I was like 75% better, 80%
better, which was incredible.

I had quality of life.

I could functionally work.

I was a better
husband, a father.

I had something to live for.

I was on my way.

And my wife started crying

because she saw the
difference in me.

Like, I was back, you know?

I had personality,
and I had emotions.

I was truly back, and,

you know, I'm just so grateful

that I had the opportunity
to do all this stuff,

and I still, today
I'm still improving.

I still feel like
I'm getting better,

and I live a really healthy life

that I'm gonna try to do my best

to be around as long as I can.

- Ben loves "Survivor," and
it's his favorite show to watch.

- Every Wednesday night, we
throw the kids in our room

and they get to have movie
night in Mom and Dad's room,

and my wife and I get
to sit on the couch

and drink some wine,
and watch "Survivor."

- Every time we
watch it, he's like--

- Why are they doing this?

I could do that, or why
aren't they looking there?

- Make a video and send it in.

If you're gonna be
so great at this,

go ahead and do it.

- And so I did, I made
a video the next day,

and sent it in, and it was

about a year and
three months later

I heard something back from 'em,

and it was unreal.

At first, I thought it was a
joke 'cause it took so long.

(intense music)

- [Jeff] On day one, Ben began
the game on the Hero Tribe,

but losing the first
immunity challenge.

Hustlers, you win immunity!

Forced Ben to form
an early alliance.

- I kinda gotta
say I had a leg up

because of the military, really.

Attention to detail is
something you have to have,

especially as an assault man.

You go through being
able to identify

27 tanks by just a silhouette.

- I did not find out that
he was in the last three

until he came home and told me.

I was, I was shocked
at first to hear,

but at the same time, no,

because that man always
pulls everything off.

- One vote left.

The winner of "Survivor!"

(crowd cheering)

That's a million
dollars in there.

That is your check,
the real deal.

- It was unreal.

I was ecstatic.

I knew what it meant for
my family, for my kids,

and their education, and
just the comfortability

of knowing that we'll be okay,

and we're still gonna work,

and we're gonna still
stay in our lane.

And that's the
biggest thing in life

is be true to you.

(Ben whistling)

I guess the advice that I
want to give a veteran is

don't give up.

Don't give up.

(kids chattering)



- What these people in their
own testimony, their own words

are saying is, you
know, I was suicidal

and I'm no longer suicidal.

- Andrew went from
hardly being able

to drive home from work,
forgetting his kids' names,

to the recovery road he's
on now has landed him

at the Stanford School of
Business Ignite program.

It was actually my
idea to write the book.

You've gone through
a terrible situation,

like so many have.

- Adam was the catalyst.

He was like, we're
writing a book, dude.

You're gonna write a book.

- It's about getting the
information out there

so that more doctors can come
on board and participate.

- You could go back and say oh,

well I was able to make it
through that because of this.

And then all of a sudden
you have a blueprint

for anybody going
through a hard time.

- Honestly I felt, you know,
ethically and morally obligated

to share that information

because if I got
that information

and I didn't disseminate
it, then to me that

that's doing a disservice
to everybody else

who is dealing with
similar problems.

At least in the
veteran community,

and now what's
going on in the NFL,

like, you know about
head trauma now.

It's kind of a household thing.

Our intent is to provide
a hope, and a alternative

to what's currently being
told as the status quo.

- I don't know where
the idea came from,

but I did go to Salem Hospital,

went to the volunteer office,
and I said to the lady,

I wanted to work with children.

And she said to me, well,

we have this neonatal
intensive care unit

where babies are cuddled.

So we have what we call
a cuddling program,

but we've never had
a male do it before.

It's always been women.

And I said, well, I'd like
to interview for that.

And it saved my life.

I was able to take sick babies,

whether they were
addicted to drugs,

addicted to alcohol
from the birth,

I would cuddle them
and rock them to sleep.

And I can't tell you
how it made me feel.

There was never, ever a baby

that I could not get to sleep.

My other pleasure in life
are my five grandchildren,

my two daughters
and their husbands.

I pray to God every single day.

- Just been a game
changing experience

for me in my life,
and for my family,

and you and Andrew are two of
those people, so thank you.

We would always talked
about going back to Boston,

so luckily a couple places
you can go to school there,

and just thought well
hey, why not apply to,

you know, Harvard and MIT?

And so I applied to
Harvard Business School.

I applied to MIT's
business school.

I applied to the Harvard
Kennedy School of Government,

and I got immediately rejected
by both Harvard institutions.

And I was wait listed at MIT.

So I bought a ticket
from Seattle to Boston,

flew across the country

walked up to the admissions
office unannounced,

and said, well, hey, you know,
thank you very much for this,

but what do I need
to do to get in now?

And then three months later,

I got an acceptance
letter in my hand.

And then that fall,
I swallowed my pride

and reapplied to
the Kennedy School,

and was able to pursue
dual master's degrees.

- If you had told me,
when we started dating

that someday he was going
to go to Harvard and MIT,

I would have laughed at you.

(dramatic music)

- So I went to the University
of Texas at Arlington,

and I got an MBA, master's
of business administration,

and finished that in about
two and a half years.

I was just very
proud that I was able

to accomplish you know,
a dream that I had.

I was able to fulfill it,

despite all these hardships
I've gone through.

And with all the
support of my family,

my friends, and my now husband,
I was able to push through.

And I was just so proud.

Anne Elisabeth Nickelson.

(crowd cheering)

- My outlook is joyous.

He's better now than
he ever has been.

I'm, I have goosebumps.

- A buddy of mine, he said hey,

would you like to
start a foundation?

Don or Andrew and help
kids in the community,

especially in
pediatric oncology.

I says, yeah, that'd be great.

You know, and honor
Andrew, that'd be awesome.

So we started the
Rypien Foundation,

just with the sense of
making the quality of care

and their quality of
life a little bit easier

as they're going through it.

The outcome, we don't know.

Statistics say create
an environment where
they're inspired,

they can battle this disease,

and they can come
out the other end.

We bought kid cars that kids
can put their IV poles in,

so that they don't have to be
quarantined in their rooms.

We funded our last major
project two years ago.

And it's the Andrew
Rypien School.

Three, four, five, six, seven.

Seven, yes, seven.

Good job, all the
way to the fish.

- I had a ton of
support, you know?

I couldn't have
done it on my own.

My wife's awesome.

Did more than anybody, and
she held it all together,

and she just woke up every
day and just did her best.

And I can't believe
how strong she is.

* Pocket full of posy

* Ashes, ashes, we all fall

When I'm with Elise, I feel
like part of my purpose

is to help people like her,

is to help put a
smile on her face.

Some of my teammates
and I talked about

being physical therapists
when we grew up.

It just kind of stuck with me.

It was something that God
had put a fire in my heart

for that, and a passion.

And he never really
took it away.

I knew that that
was the end goal,

heading to DPT school
and get my doctorate.

- It's a building
block of health

that you need to be
aware of, and for me,

what I really want
to say is thank you

for everyone that's got me here,

everyone that's
helped me get here.

And that there are answers,

and you gotta really be out
there and search for them.

You're worth it, and
I have an obligation

to share this story that way.

(emotional music)

It's the most important
thing is to pay it forward.

- The only thing I
would tell people is

today is the first day
of the rest of your life.

- Because we're on here today,

lives will be changed, man.

It's probably hard
to comprehend that.

But, thank you for
this opportunity

because it's gonna
have a ripple effect

that you probably aren't
gonna be able to understand,

but by being on here,
things are gonna

affect people's lives in
a positive, positive way.

Thank you.
- That's what I hope,

and thank you, thank you for
starting this foundation.

Thank you for being so
active with it, Dr. Gordon,

I mean this is
all amazing stuff,

and whenever you hear about
people getting help like this,

and how effective it is,
it's a beautiful thing.

(emotional music)

* Can you hear my
voice this time *

* This is my fight song

* Take back my life song

* Prove I'm all right song

* My power's turned on

* Starting right
now I'll be strong *

* I'll play my fight song

* And I don't really care
if nobody else believes *

* 'Cause I've still got a
lot of fight left in me *

* Losin' friends and
I'm chasin' sleep *

* Everybody's worried about me

* In too deep

* Say I'm in too deep

* In too deep

* And it's been two years
and I miss my home *

* And there's a fire
burning in my bones *

* I still believe

* Yeah I still believe

* And all those
things I didn't say *

* Wrecking balls
inside my brain *

* I will scream
them loud tonight *

* Can you hear my
voice this time *

* This is my fight song

* Take back my life song

* Prove I'm all right song

* My power's turned on

* Starting right
now I'll be strong *

* I'll play my fight song

* And I don't really care
if nobody else believes *

* 'Cause I've still got a
lot of fight left in me *

* A lot of fight left in me

* Like a small boat

* On the ocean

* Sending big waves

* Into motion

* Like how a single word

* Can make a heart open

* I might only have one match

* But I can make an explosion

* My power's turned on

* Starting right
now I'll be strong *

* I'll be strong

* I'll play my fight song

* And I don't really care
if nobody else believes *

* 'Cause I've still got a
lot of fight left in me *

* No I've still got a
lot of fight left in me *

(emotional music)

(gentle piano music)

(dramatic music)

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