Army Sergeant Major (SGM) Thomas Eidschun’s medical files showed multiple visits to Military Treatment Facilities throughout the
years, beginning in 1993 when his parachute collapsed during an operation. This hard landing resulted in a loss of consciousness for 30 minutes and a broken neck. Over the years to follow, many trips to the ER for nausea, dizziness and headaches, all following airborne operations. Then in 2010, SGM was hit with an IED in Afghanistan that left him needing surgery. After serving 25 years, unexplained symptoms of headaches and dizziness left the Drs confused. But it got worse when the dizziness led to unconsciousness on a Division run. He’d finally fallen out.
Two years of testing, prodding and military care at Walter Reed still didn’t provide answers. They accused him of malingering. The pondered Post-Traumatic Stress as the likely culprit given the symptoms of memory loss, headaches, and dizziness. The merry-go-round of unanswered questions left his wife, Michelle, exhausted and in failing health just trying to find answers.
Wednesdays at Walter Reed were the short-term answers to the Eidschun's problems. It was the one day a local art school offered pottery and forging classes to patients at the facility. SGM Eidschun also focused on his passion for woodworking, and with the assistance of occupational therapists found hope in the one skill and focus that remained. Through the artisan projects, the Eidschuns maintained a
sense of resiliency to see them through the diagnosis and healing process.
Their self-advocacy and family fight for answers was finally successful in August 2017 when SGM Eidschun received care from Mt. Sinai Hospital and a diagnosis: accumulation of tau proteins in the cerebrum and sub cortex, likely caused by previous head trauma such as a broken neck, regular airborne landings and/or the IED blast. Then, in September of 2017, he was diagnosed at NIH with Pure Autonomic Failure.
Armed with a diagnosis and treatment
plan, after 28 years of active duty, the SGM retired and settled in Whitley
Now they, and their friends, focus on what Soldiers do best; taking care of other Soldiers. With the experience of navigating the bureaucracy of medical services and the resiliency built through artisan projects and faith, the Eidschun's dedicate their time, efforts and land to helping those in need.