“How do you fall in love again?” Roxana Delgado wondered, once she realized the man she had fallen in love with was gone, taken away by the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Roxana and husband Sergeant First Class Victor Medina had been college sweethearts and best friends. Two years after they married,
Victor joined the Army and for the next seven years they thrived on military life, throughout Victor’s three deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.
During a patrol in 2009, protecting supplies headed for a joint U.S.-Iraq security station, a powerful armor-piercing roadside bomb blew up near his vehicle. While the explosively formed projectile missed Victor’s head by two feet, the concussive shock waves, pressure changes and whiplash rocked his brain, resulting in the moderate TBI, and problems with vision, hearing, balance, headaches, speech and cognitive impairments.
Victor’s early recovery period was a time of personal struggle for them as Roxana began to realize how much her husband had changed.
At the time, she was a first-year doctoral student and a clinical investigator. But she chose to alter her path to add becoming Victor’s full-time caregiver to her schooling and job responsibilities, devoting herself to helping him achieve independence and thrive in his new life. It was made possible only because her employer and school supported her as a caregiver with flexible schedules and accommodations.
Together, Roxana and Victor decided to reach beyond their own struggles and stand up for others, a mission that would eventually result in Congressional recognition for their efforts to help improve the system of traumatic brain injury care.
During Victor’s rehabilitation, the couple identified gaps in TBI identification, diagnosis and treatment, which they brought to the attention of military and civilian leadership to help shape new military healthcare policies.
Roxana has since completed a PhD in Health Sciences and works in military medical research. She’s also on the board of Therapeutic Horsemanship of El Paso and along with Victor, continues to passionately advocate for improved resources and support for wounded warriors and their caregivers, and motivate military families to achieve their own success, however each defines it.
Faith, hope, love, perseverance and teamwork are both the couple’s key reasons for their progress, and their fervent recommendations to others for thriving during the healing journey.
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