UPDATE: Veteran sees improvement from groundbreaking PTSD treatment

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by Lucy Bustamante, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on December 24, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 4 at 11:46 AM

UPDATE 3/4/14:  Chuck Rotenberry says he is more than half way through his treatments in New Orleans and is responding well so far.

"My migraines are almost completely gone, my mood has improved and I am sleeping much better," he wrote in a letter to 13News Now.

"We recently held a fundraising 5K, 'Hearts for Heroes' in Delaware which was an incredible turnout despite the poor weather. Mercy Medical Airlift was so gracious to help me get home to DE for the event and it was great to see my family.  We had over 300 runners/walkers and managed to raise over $9,000; 100% of the proceeds will go towards another Military Member's HBOT Therapy."

Click here to see Rotenberry's video blog
***** 

UPDATE 12/24:  The wife of Marine veteran Chuck Rotenberry, who was working to raise money to get cutting-edge hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment to help heal her husband's PTSD symptoms, says they have reached their goal of $15,000.
 
Elizabeth Rotenberry tells 13News Now that Chuck will get the medical care that Dr. Paul Harch can provide at his center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
 
"We have been so blessed at the out pouring of support from everyone and thank you so much for helping us get this all started. Chuck will be going to New Orleans on Jan. 29 for the first eight-week treatment with Harch Hyperbarics, and we are so excited about the possibilities for him and for us as a family," Rotenberry said. 

The couple has now opened a 501 non-profit account in the name of Walking Point for PTSD and TBI.

"With this started, we hope to continue to collect the funds necessary to help other veterans get the care they so desperately need and deserve," Rotenberry said.
 
The couple has already been in touch with one veteran that may benefit from hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments.

How to donate: 
Mail: 216 Missionary Ridge Hampton, VA 23669
http://www.gofundme.com/Walking-Point
Contacting NFCU to make a member transfer
Calling 1-800-842-6328 

HAMPTON -- Marine veteran Chuck Rotenberry gets choked up as recalls how he helped pick up a fellow soldier's legs in Afghanistan two years ago.

His wife, Elizabeth, holds his hand as Rotenberry pauses to stop the tears.

Platoon Sergeant Rotenberry was walking through an area known as the "shark's tooth."  Marines know it is riddled with IED's.  Rotenberry somehow stepped over the explosive, but his fellow marine, who was just three feet behind him, did not.

"We were inches off," Rotenberry remembers.

After the dust settled, he helped to pick up the pieces of his buddy's legs.

"There wasn't much left," he says and then pauses.

It's a mix of guilt and the images in his head, that makes him tear up.

Rotenberry was also injured - he had shrapnel puncture his neck.

He called his wife hours later, while he was recovering in Afghanistan, but didn't tell her what happened.

In fact, he let Elizabeth vent about her day.  The tires needed to be changed and she didn't know how she would do it. She was five months pregnant and he didn't want to add to her stress at home, so he kept quiet.

Elizabeth got a call from Quantico later that night, when the family's point of contact alerted her he had been hurt.

"I said, 'No, that can't be! I just spoke with him,' and I realized that I just went off, venting to him," says Elizabeth. She tears up now when she talks about how humble her husband is.

Elizabeth says her husband came back to a normal, happy home and a new baby a week later. Yet, he was detached and would wake up screaming.

Fast forward two years; Rotenberry can't hear loud noises without needing to leave the space. His four kids can't play too loud or too rough without him needing to leave the room.  He says a glass spilling onto the table really sets him off.

"If I was a single Marine, I could see committing suicide, but I have a family that I love, a wife who is incredible and responsibility," Rotenberry admits. 

Elizabeth says her husband is not the same man she's known since high school.   She says the man who came back from his last deployment is uncharacteristically distant, moody and extremely forgetful. She knew it was post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Rotenberry says he can't finish a task without forgetting where he is most days. He got lost coming back from the kids' sporting practice.

"I broke guy code and called her to ask for directions," Rotenberry said.

Even the kids make fun of his forgetfulness.

"You have to keep it light or the sadness will take over," says Rotenberry.

Elizabeth says it pains her to hear her husband say he wishes his would have been physically hurt to get the help he needs.

"PTSD is a stigma and it needs to not be. He's not crazy. He's injured," Elizabeth said. 

The drugs they've gotten through the VA hospital have helped.  Counseling has also helped, but they don't think it can much more.

The couple now has their eye on hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment in New Orleans, performed by Dr. Paul Harch. 

Mercy Medical Airlift is giving them a free ride to New Orleans for the treatment. Now, they need to raise $15,000 to cover the cost of the treatment and expenses.

Suzanne Rhodes with Mercy Medical Airlift says their charity will fly any veteran to New Orleans for free to get the treatment.

"If football players can get it to treat these impacts, than why not our veterans," Rhodes asks.

Right now, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment is not covered for veterans with PTSD and TBI.

The Roddenberry's believe the therapy will provide Chuck the healing he desperately needs.

Click here if you'd like to donate to Mercy Medical Airlift.

 

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