May 24, 2018
Gulf War veteran presents citation and letter of commendation to Siskin Hospital
Former TBI patient grateful for the gift of life
More than seven years ago, veteran Tommy Brownlow lost control of his Mitsubishi Raider while driving on a particularly treacherous part of a road near Rome, Georgia. The truck left the road, went down into a ditch and struck the embankment and a culvert. The impact sent the truck back into the road, end-over-end, to strike another embankment on the opposite side. Tommy was partially ejected before the pick-up truck came to a stop. All the ribs on his right side were broken except for one. Two vertebrae and a shoulder blade were also broken, and he had a traumatic brain injury, along with internal bleeding and a collapsed lung.
The ambulance took him to Richard B. Russell Regional Airport to await the Life Force helicopter from Erlanger Medical Center (EMC). His injuries were so severe that they did a “hot load” (the helicopter did not shut off). Tommy was air-lifted to EMC and spent six weeks in the Trauma ICU. Due to the extent of his injuries, doctors questioned whether he would ever regain his faculties enough to live independently at home.
When Tommy came to Siskin Hospital for physical rehabilitation, he was still severely limited in his abilities, and the medications and trauma made cooperation difficult. Gradually he became more aware of his environment and the objectives his therapists were trying to help him meet. Once he was more involved in the rehabilitation process, he quickly experienced positive results. He also became aware of the help his family was receiving.
“All of the staff at Siskin Hospital was more than supportive and caring to my wife Suzette during this difficult time,” says Tommy. “They helped her cope with the overwhelming aspects of my recovery protocol and the time that it would take, and she is forever grateful to them for their kindness, generosity and support.” To express his gratitude, he presented Siskin Hospital with a Veterans of Foreign Wars Citation of Appreciation.
Tommy says he is thankful to have dodged death once again – something he’s faced squarely in his 28-year career in law enforcement; 20-year service in the Army Reserve; and two combat tours in the first Gulf War.
Today Tommy, who flew Black Hawk medevac helicopters in the war, keeps up his flying skills in a variety of ways, most recently flying cargo relief for both FEMA and GEMA into the areas hardest hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Learn more about Siskin Hospital's Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program.