While advances in body armor and battlefield medicine are saving the lives of many servicemen and servicewomen, it is nearly impossible to fully protect the head from the concussive wave of an IED. Thousands of American GIs could be suffering from mild TBIs without even knowing it.
The Hardys tried to scrape by on Warren's small disability payments from the Army. Dave Walker, a Vietnam vet who also suffers from a combat-related brain injury, feared the Hardys were quickly approaching financial collapse.
Walker, who is now a police chaplain, put out a call for volunteers to help the Hardys and got an army of responses. Diapers, cards, letters and donations came in from far and wide.
"To have that many people help us," said Gina, "it's just -- it's unbelievable. It's been hundreds of people."
The volunteers coordinating the donations for the Hardy family said they have raised more than $90,000. The money enabled the family to make the down payment on a new house in Vancouver, Wash.
The community support has helped avert short-term disaster for the Hardys, but they are still waiting for the military to rule on Hardy's petition for full disability retirement.
Gina is still waiting for her husband to get better. "Nothing has really changed," she said. "He still can't remember what he did five minutes ago."
"The doctors at the VA say that they can teach me strategies to help," said Hardy. "But the parts which have gone, they are gone. And that some of the things I used to do, I'll never be able to get back to do."
"I think there is an important message for the military to educate themselves on this," said Hardy. "And it's more than just the doctors. It's the chains of command. It's the first sergeants and the sergeant majors. They are the ones that are gonna pick up soldiers that have gone through these incidents, and they are going to see behavioral changes. I think if anybody has been through an IED or been in close proximity of a blast, I really think they should seek help and get it checked."
Any Donations for the Hardy Family can be sent to:
Warren Hardy Family Fund
PO BOX 1541
Campbell, CA 95009