Intrepid Spirit Center moves forward

  • Published
  • By Ilka Cole
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs

The 96th Medical Group held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the construction of the Intrepid Spirit Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, May 2.

More than 100 people attended the event, including the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein and Arnold Fisher, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund honorary chairman.

The Eglin Intrepid Spirit Center was a donation from the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to the Department of Defense. It is the first on an Air Force base and the eighth of 10 located on military installations nationwide. The ISC will be a treatment center for post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, associated pain conditions and psychological injuries in regional active duty service members.

“We are proud to join this family of TBI facilities and are grateful to the American citizens who have so generously supported the healthcare and healing of our active duty service members,” said Dr. Thomas Piazza, Invisible Wounds Center medical director.

Eglin AFB was chosen due to the at-risk population stationed in the local area such as Air Force’s special operations forces, explosive ordnance disposal Airmen, U.S. Army’s special forces, Rangers and the Naval EOD schoolhouse.

Master Sgt. Michael Brogan, an Air Force Special Operations Command Airman and current invisible wounds center patient, shared his recovery experience with the program and how it impacted his life.

Brogan spoke to the audience about the militaries special operators saying, “We are battle damaged, but we are not unserviceable.” He spoke about the changing culture and the now-reduced fear of stigma associated with seeking treatment as well. He noted the benefits the seemingly unlikely programs such as yoga and painting among others.

“The calming effects of these treatments have greatly improved stress management. They’ve helped me sleep better. I’m learning to enjoy the quietness of a walk on the beach, spend time with my family,” said the 22-year veteran. “I’m feeling well enough to play catch with my 14-year-old son or just sit coloring with my daughter.”

Brogan concluded by thanking the IWC and appealed to the audience to continue to support programs like IFHF and ISC. Goldfein, who was set to speak after Brogan, thanked the Airman with a handshake from the stage before giving closing remarks.

“Today’s groundbreaking is a symbolic reminder about the important help that awaits patients like Master Sgt. Mike Brogan,” Goldfein said. “Members come seeking hope so they can break through those mental, physical, emotional and spiritual barriers and create a better tomorrow for themselves and their families.”

Once built, the 25,000-square-foot ISC will have 30 percent more space than the IWC and deliver additional equipment and medical capabilities.

The facility is scheduled to be completed by May 2020.