Army veteran’s TBI recovery led him back to school and into business

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Like many people who experience a serious traumatic brain injury, Army Staff Sgt. Brian Grundtner faced lots of doubt and uncertainty after he fell 50-feet during an airborne training jump. He didn’t know what his recovery would entail or what his life would be like afterward. He certainly didn’t know his path through recovery would lead him back to school to earn a master’s degree.

Now, Grundtner is telling his inspirational story to show that a traumatic brain injury isn’t a life-ending injury. It can sometimes be the start of a new path to success.

“I think what this injury did for me, is it allowed me to kind of see areas in my life that … probably needed to be tended to,” said Grundtner in a video released as part of A Head for the Future – a TBI awareness initiative funded by the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

“I chose to go to grad school because I felt like, getting out of the military, you need to learn the language of business, whatever business you’re going to be in. So, whether it’s college or a trade school or whatever, you need to learn something to apply it, because it’s so different [going] from the military to the civilian world.”

Following his traumatic brain injury, Grundtner dealt with sleep problems, headaches, and persistent memory loss. He says he would forget what he was talking about mid-conversation and lose his car in parking lots. With the help of Brooke Heintz, a behavioral health care provider, he was able to overcome these problems.

With his recovery, he also found the motivation to return to school, earn his degree in business administration, become a successful businessman, and meet the love of his life.

“If I didn’t get help, I can’t even imagine where I’d be right now; I just know I wouldn’t be where I am at,” said Grundtner.

“In recognition of Back to School Month, we’re highlighting Brian’s remarkable story of TBI recovery,” said Scott Livingston, director of education at DVBIC. “His video showcases that recovery is possible if you seek help. You can get better and find success after a TBI — just as Brian did by seeking medical treatment and returning to school. The A Head for the Future initiative features a variety of TBI resources, including videos of service members and veterans sharing their experiences of TBI recovery and sustaining hope.”

Brian Grundtner’s video and more information about the A Head for the Future initiative can be found at http://dvbic.dcoe.mil/aheadforthefuture.

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