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IFHF Breaks Ground on 4th NICoE Satellite Center at Fort Bragg, NC

break-small-(1).jpgFort Bragg, NC (January 24, 2014) – Military leaders, including Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Commanding General for the XVIII Airborne Corps, joined leaders of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF) at a groundbreaking ceremony here today marking the start of construction for the fourth in a series of nine National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) Satellite Centers. These centers, each called Intrepid Spirit, are designed to diagnose and treat Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) in our wounded service members.

As home base to the United States Army Special Forces Command, nearly 40,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families reside in Fort Bragg. As an elite segment of the U.S. Army, Special Forces Troops have played a vital role in the War on Terror, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world since September 11th.

“Fort Bragg is a community that will really benefit from an Intrepid Spirit Center,” said Arnold Fisher, Honorary Chairman of the Intrepid Heroes Fund. “Too many service members have come home after one or more tours of duty to fight their own battle against TBI and PTS. Now, they will return home to Ft. Bragg knowing that they are not alone. The Intrepid Spirit Center will give them and their families’ access to answers, care and support here in their own backyards.”

The Intrepid Spirit NICoE Satellite Centers are being funded and built by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, through a $100 million fundraising campaign supported by the American public, private businesses, veterans groups and community organizations. Earlier this year, IFHF announced that it received a $500,000 donation from the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation to jumpstart the construction of the Ft. Bragg Center. As part of the donation, the Foundation pledged all funds raised through their text-to-donate line during January will be added to their original donation. Americans interested in helping to build the center are invited to support the effort by texting “Purple” to 20222 to give $10 directly to the Fort Bragg NICoE Satellite Center and the donation will be reflected on the next month’s cell phone bill.

"Our troops have been in combat for over a decade, and during that time, we have had a large number of our troops sustain Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome," said Col Kevin Arata, a spokesman from Fort Bragg. “This new Intrepid Spirit Center will allow us to better support thousands of returning service members and will add a new dimension to the care and treatment available to them and their families.” Though the centers are being built exclusively through private donations, each center is gifted to the Department of Defense for operation and management upon completion. All the centers will be located at military installations and bases near medical facilities around the country. These convenient locations allow service members to receive TBI and PTS medical services without having to separate them from their units or leave their families for extended periods of treatment. This proximity to family and friends is expected to enhance service members’ care and rehabilitation.

“I was stationed at Ft. Bragg when I was referred to NICoE in Bethesda for treatment,” said Staff Sgt. Spencer Milo in a statement. Milo was diagnosed with PTS in 2011 after a child suicide bomber attacked his patrol in Afghanistan. “I can personally attest to the life changing experience NICoE offers – and to the immense need for a satellite center in the Ft. Bragg community. It was tough to leave my friends on base, but getting treatment was one of the best decisions I ever made. This new Intrepid Spirit Center will offer others like me an opportunity to find peace again while keeping their support systems close by.”

The first two Intrepid Spirit Centers were opened last year at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Together they have already treated hundreds of service members, since opening their doors in July and August. A third center is currently under construction Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and is expected to be operational later this year.

Each of the NICoE Satellite Centers is 25,000 sq. ft., and cost approximately $11 million to construct and equip with the latest in brain technology and devices. The Intrepid Spirit Center at Fort Bragg is scheduled to be completed and gifted to the Department of Defense in approximately one year.

The design and mission of the Intrepid Spirit Centers are based on the original NICoE, opened in 2010 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Operated by the Department of Defense, NICoE is the most advanced facility of its kind in the country, and is the center of the Armed Forces’ efforts in researching, diagnosing and treating TBI, PTS and related injuries and illnesses sustained by military personnel. Hundreds of American service members have received some form of diagnosis or treatment from NICoE in the past three years.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma or head injury disrupts the function of the brain. Common causes of TBI include damage caused by explosive devices, falls and vehicle or motorcycle accidents. Most reported TBI among Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom service members and veterans have been traced back to Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, used extensively against Coalition Forces. Symptoms can appear immediately or in the weeks and months following the injury.