Tag Archives: Dover Air Force Base

TBI and PTSD: ‘There is no shame in getting help’

by Tech. Sgt. Chuck Walker, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
edited by Meredith March, Defense Media Activity Air Force Production

As high profile cases have emerged about National Football League players and other athletes sustaining brain injuries, and as the nation has watched veterans return home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder have become hot topics.


Master Sgt. Jennifer Allara, an explosive ordnance disposal team leader at Dover Air Force Base, has experienced both.

In Sept. 2009, Allara’s EOD team at Provincial Reconstruction Farah, Afghanistan, was ambushed while out on patrol. A teammate, Staff Sgt. Bryan Berky, was killed by a sniper during the attack. For Allara, it was a wake-up call.

“We are trained to accept a certain amount of danger with our job,” she said. “I always thought in terms of me; what if something happens to me? What if we get blown up? I wasn’t thinking in terms of losing a team member in a turret.”

Upon her return from Afghanistan, Allara went to mental health and sought therapy when she began experiencing symptoms of TBI and PTSD. For her, it seemed to bring about more questions than answers.

Determined to heal, Allara recently began treatment at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md. She will undergo four weeks of analysis and leave the center with a care plan designed to meet her needs.

Allara hopes that her example will compel others to seek help if they are experiencing problems when they return from deployment.

“There is no shame in getting help,” she said. “There is no shame in recognizing what is going on with someone and being able to reach out and help. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your Airmen.”

For more on this story, click here.

Part of the solution

By Capt. Chris Sukach

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

We’ve all done it.  Encountered a problem or frustration and said, “This is messed up.  Someone should fix it.”  And maybe we’ve complained about the frustration and possibly even offered up solutions, but how often do we see those solutions through?

Ken Fisher, Chairman of the Fisher House Foundation, is a person who not only provides solutions to problems, but sees those solutions through to fruition.  Just seven months ago he learned that families who travel to Dover Air Force Base, Del. to witness the dignified transfers of their loved ones sometimes had difficulty finding lodging when hotels in the area were fully booked.

Even though they were in the midst of building 14 other Fisher Houses at the time, Ken and his team leapt into action to build a unique Fisher House, one that would provide families with not only a place to stay, but a place where they could gather, pray and reflect. 

Mr. Fisher said that he and his team chose to take responsibility for fulfilling a need they knew existed.

“It’s so easy to say it should be someone else’s problem,” he said.  “But while you’re doing that, the problem grows.  The need grows.  So we chose to be part of the solution.”