EPISODES           SUBSCRIBE          REVIEWS

How Soldiers Overcome Extreme Trauma: PT. 1 Denny’s Story

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

California native Denny Salisbury was 19 years old when he had his first brush with an IED bomb while serving our country in Iraq. Although it was a harrowing experience, it was minor in comparison to the other brushes with death he would soon experience, both in combat and back at home. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are joined by Denny as he relates his terrifying ordeals.

 

Read Full Transcript

Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here, we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit AmenClinics.com.

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit BrainMDHealth.com. Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.

Well, I'm so thrilled today. We have a special guest. We have Denny Salisbury, who I met when I was with Chloe at a wilderness survival retreat, which you thought I was crazy to go on. But I'm actually really happy I went, because meeting Denny was one of the highlights of the trip. I actually enjoyed sleeping in the dirt and building shelters and doing all that stuff. I know you would not have liked that.

But Denny's story really caught me. It just tugged at my heartstrings. I called you immediately afterwards, and I wasn't expecting it, and it was just one of those stories. We both have a very special place in our hearts for veterans. Denny is a veteran. So first, we want to say, hello, Denny.

Denny Salisbury: Hello.

Tana Amen: How are you?

Denny Salisbury: I am doing wonderful. Just had surgery, so I'm healing up from that, but-

Tana Amen: Well, we're happy that at least you're able to talk to us, and share with us today. We want to go into your story and what happened, and I called Daniel, and I was talking 100 miles a minute, and I'm like, "This is why we do what we do." Every now and then ... I love that he doesn't say no to me often. When he does, I'm usually in shock. But I called him, and I'm like, "Look, this is why we do what we do." And I usually reserve an opportunity to bring someone in under my wing at least once a year, and your story, you were that person. I loved your story. It was amazing and, well, sad. Tragic. But it's why we do what we do. Can you start by talking to us and tell us a little bit about your military experience. You were in the Marines, correct?

Denny Salisbury: Yes. Yes, Marines.

Tana Amen: How old were you when you went in?

Denny Salisbury: I went in right out of high school, so January of 2006, I joined boot camp, and that was in San Diego. I flew down there and it was a shock. I didn't really know-

Tana Amen: Didn't know what you were getting yourself?

Dr Daniel Amen: I had that same feeling when I went to Basic Training in 1972. It's like, what?

Tana Amen: I know. You told me. You said you were all excited to go, and then all of a sudden you had someone screaming at you, calling you maggot, and telling you what to do.

Dr Daniel Amen: I'm like, "That's not what I expected."

Denny Salisbury: Right, right. It was a surreal feeling because if you've flown into San Diego, there's a big rappel tower right next to the airport. It says USMC right down the side. It's the first thing I had to see when I flew in, because-

Tana Amen: So you were at Pendleton, then?

Denny Salisbury: Yes, Pendleton.

Tana Amen: That's right near us.

Denny Salisbury: It is?

Tana Amen: Yeah.

Denny Salisbury: It's beautiful out there.

Tana Amen: It really is. Until you probably go to Basic Training, it probably is great. So you ended up right away going to Iraq? Is that where you went?

Denny Salisbury: Actually, there's quite a bit of training before you get to Iraq. I had a full year's worth of training, which I thought was very good training. We really trained hard. I spent three years in boot camp, I mean three months in boot camp, I'm sorry, and then I went to School of Infantry and then got shipped out to 2/7, the unit, in 29 Palms. I spent a little over six months out there training, and it was just preparing for war. That's ironic, because when I was in high school, I didn't think I was going to join the military, but then in 2001, September 11th, and for me, it motivated me enough to join the military. I knew I had to do it. When I did the testing, actually, I scored quite high, and I could have done whatever I wanted to in the military, but I chose to go into the infantry for the Marine Corps. My family has a history of being in the military. It just felt natural.

Tana Amen: It's really interesting. You mentioned something. I'm not bashing the military by any means, because I think that the guys who join, men and women, who join the military and serve our country, they're our heroes. I actually, police officers, soldiers, I look up to all of them. But what bothers me a little bit is we do do a really good job of marketing and motivating people to join, but I don't think as a country we do a very good job ... Jump in if you think I'm wrong ... Of supporting them afterwards.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, I was in the Army 10 years. I started as an infantry medic, and I think it's one of the most important developmental periods of my life. I actually joined during a war, too. It was during Vietnam. But no, we can do better. But let's hear about Denny's story. So you're really well trained in the infantry as a Marine, and then what happens?

Denny Salisbury: In January of 2007, actually about one year later from joining boot camp, we went to Fallujah, Iraq, and when we landed, it was like a week after Saddam had just got hung, so there was a lot of uprising happening in the area. That was my first deployment. I remember landing in the country of Iraq, and I was just ... I don't know if enthralled would be the right word. Scared at the same time, very curious, but also very [reclused 00:06:19]. I remember we were driving in our base, Camp Fallujah's what it was, and I really wanted to look outside and see what I was getting myself into.

I remember my seniors who were there the year before, they knew a lot better than I did, and they were all tucked behind the armor. I remember peeking my head over the armor to just look out at the city, and there's palm trees on fire, cars on fire, buildings in pieces. It was surreal, to say the least. I remember our truck got shot by a sniper, and you hear the tink hit the truck, and all my seniors were like, "I told you get down!" A lot different language they used.

So, then we pulled into our base, and we didn't really know that there was artillery, big, big guns that were right next to where we were sleeping for our stay in Iraq. They immediately started firing into the city of Fallujah and the surrounding cities, and all my seniors hit the ground, because we had no clue if it was incoming or outgoing, and that was my first sense of what I was getting myself into.

Tana Amen: Nice welcome.

Denny Salisbury: What's that?

Tana Amen: Nice welcome. That's pretty crazy.

Denny Salisbury: Right, I mean, I'm glad that they were sending the heat in a different direction, but it was about two weeks later when we started doing missions. You've kind of got to left seat, right seat is the term, where you learn what the unit that's there already has to teach you from what they've learned. So we did that, and within the first month, on February 16th, I got hit by my first IED. My first bomb IED. We had an illumination round that hit us earlier in the deployment, and that was just really scary, kind of lit up the sky. It was on the ground, caught bushes on fire, because they didn't know what ordinance they were putting in the ground. That was a scary experience. So that was kind of another welcome. One month after that was my first IED. It gave 12 of us concussions.

Tana Amen: Oh, so that's not even the one, the story I heard about? That's a different?

Denny Salisbury: No, no, no. This is-

Tana Amen: Oh, holy cow.

Denny Salisbury: ... Another concussion-

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, and I think this is really important to set it up. Tell me, had you had any brain injuries before you went into the military?

Denny Salisbury: I grew up playing Pop Warner Football from third grade to, I mean, I was one of the best players in northern California for tight end and defense in my junior and senior year. So I played my whole life, basically, football.

Tana Amen: And you're a pretty big guy, so?

Denny Salisbury: Right, yeah. Lots of high impact sports. I skateboarded and just anything you can think of where I was punishing my body is basically what I was doing growing up. It was part of the adventure, I guess.

Tana Amen: Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: Part of our goal is to educate parents on how important it is to protect a child's brain, because it just can impact the rest of your life. [crosstalk 00:09:29]. So going in playing football and skateboard and so on, you could have, likely, had, like me, I played football, a vulnerable brain, and then as you get to Iraq, just-

Tana Amen: So you already had a concussion, right.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... A couple weeks there, you're exposed to your first IED. Tell us what happened.

Denny Salisbury: Yeah, so we were just kind of on patrol. We had another unit in our area. They were under attack, and it as in the middle of the night, and they needed emergency, they needed quick reaction force, they needed to be pulled out of there quickly. We got in our trucks. There was five of us, five trucks, about 25, 30 people. We took off driving down there. I remember we passed their location by maybe 100 feet, and so we began to turn around our convoy, and I was in the second truck. The first truck had begun to turn around, and I just looked over to my left out the window, and I see just all the telltale signs of a vehicle borne IED. This thing was laying on the ground. The car was laying on the ground, like the shocks were gone, the truck was sagging very low, there were wires hanging out, all the windows were spray painted black.

I just looked at it and I remember telling myself, oh, bleep, that's an IED. And as I said IED, it exploded, and I remember just watching a piece of the bumper and something tumble out my window, and it just ... It spider webbed my window right next to me, and it popped open the door on the left side, both passenger and driver door. I remembered hearing a piece of metal tinking off of all the metal inside of our truck. All the armors are like tink, tink, tink, tink, tink, and it lands on my seat. I didn't realize anything of it. I'm trying to hold the doors closed, because I mean, I'm not really aware of what just happened. It rocked me pretty good.

Everyone in the truck is kind of like, "What the heck?" We knew it was an IED, but it was just really crazy. When the door swung open, there was just this big burning crater, so yeah, I closed the door. I wasn't going to hop out in that. We still had to pick up those guys. But we ended up telling them that they had to run back on their own, because we just got two of our trucks almost disabled. We were driving back to our base, and I remember sitting on this molten lava piece of metal that had been tinking around in the truck, so that was definitely a scary experience for me.

When we went to clean out the truck to fix the truck from what happened, a piece of shrapnel had went through all of our gear and all of our water and all of our food, and it stuck in the armor. It's just like the thinnest armor right behind my head, less than a quarter inch of just Kevlar. It's just this little door, so you can reach into the back, but everything else is like two inches thick of armor. So I kept that piece of shrapnel.

Tana Amen: Wow. So you already had PTSD and brain injury early on, before your really big explosion happened that I heard about?

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, you can't say PTSD. He had a traumatic event, which is obvious-

Tana Amen: That wouldn't cause PTSD?

Denny Salisbury: I hadn't interpreted it badly.

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, no, not yet. And you probably had concussive blow with the IED being so close to when it exploded. Did you notice anything different about yourself after that first IED?

Denny Salisbury: They actually took all 12 of us out of the field for three days. I do just remember being, you know, slower. I just felt slower and my body was sore. I was just really exhausted. I don't know if that was just being on a very, very strict schedule that we were on. I mean, demanding. I feel like it gave me a concussion. I mean, I was-

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah, probably so.

Denny Salisbury: It had to. It was a massive bomb that was right next to me. There was no way I could have dodged it.

Dr Daniel Amen: So that's in February of 2008?

Denny Salisbury: '07.

Dr Daniel Amen: 2007. And then what happened?

Denny Salisbury: So we just kind of continued our mission and like I was just saying, Tana, I was kind of preparing for war that whole year, so when I got blown up the first time, it wasn't a real shock. It kind of comes with the territory. But the one that happened on April 16th was far, far worse. I have to mention that the day before, so this is April 15th, we got put up in a situation where these guys were trying to hijack a car right in front of us and beat up some civilians, so we kind of aggressively chased after them. I don't know if we got any, but what happened was is the very next day, this is April 15 ... I mean, same day, April 15th, we went over to this house, and I had been there before, and my lieutenant had asked myself and another guy in my truck to dismount and go into this house and talk with the people.

Again, I had seen these people before, had conversations with them on more than one occasion. When I walked in that door, these guys were laying on the ground, cowering, like back on their hands and back on their elbows, just kind of like, "Don't hurt me." I knew immediately, I was like, something's wrong. So I asked for backup, and I was denied backup. So I ran back out to the truck, and the very next day, we kind of just started our normal routine. Went out on patrol in five trucks and we all got in our vehicles.

What we do is sweep in front of our vehicles in a big shape of a V. It goes out 100 yards and up 100 yards and it's a 45 degree angle from the front bumper of our first truck, so like a big cone off the front of the truck. I'm on the front of the very left side, so I'm the farthest away from the truck as you can be other than the right, and I'm kind of walking along and looking for wires, because we trip over them and that's the way we find IEDs, and that's because during the war while I was there, there was multiple ways to stop IEDs. We would jam them with a jammer, or we would find the wires. Whatever the situation for them was, they'd work around it, essentially.

What they had done was watched us for so long that they ended up burying the wire, just where right as I was about to trip over it, they sent a car racing out of our convoy, and this guy pulled his E-brake out and hung his AK out the window and just started shooting at all of us, so we were called back to our truck. Right before we were tripping over the wire, so I mean, now that I look back, it's easily a well planned ambush against us, so it's kind of scary to think of that, but I ran back to the truck, hopped in, and we took off to pursue. The first truck drove over the bomb. It didn't go off, and then my truck went over it, and it just-

Tana Amen: Oh, God.

Denny Salisbury: Boom. I didn't so much hear the blast as I felt. Everything turned dark and it was brown inside of my vehicle, and I felt weightless, floating through the air. It was really crazy. I remember telling myself while this is going on, I'm like, oh my gosh, that was another IED. The truck hit the ground, and then it rolled, I feel like it. I'm not quite sure what happened after the first impact to the ground. I think I was knocked unconscious. I woke up, the inside of my truck was on fire for a flash second, a couple seconds, that's what woke me up. My face was just burnt.

And so, disoriented, I hopped out of my truck, which at this point in time, the entire front is gone. Most of the right side is gone, the shotgun position is just gone. The right side of the armor is 50 yards off the road. The engine block with the pistons blown out was 200 yards down the road in front of us, and the roof of our truck was pinched like a wedge. I hopped out and tried to slam my door, but the armor, it was just like a, I don't know, muscle memory. I'm trying to close the door, and I remember focusing on that for quite a bit of time. Then I see my buddy right next to me, and he's just hanging out of the truck, and I knew that I needed to help him.

I ran around the truck once, and kind of triaged the scene, and then I went to pull out my buddy, who was the gunner. He was standing up next to me, but now he's laying out the driver's door, and he's in between the legs of our driver, which is one stuck up by his head and the other one's pinned down below the steering wheel. The driver's stuck in the roof above my seat. I don't know if that's an explanation that you can visualize, but my gunner was trapped in the radio mount.

When the transmission came through the floorboard, it wrapped this aluminum radio mount that held two radios, it wrapped his ankles inside of it, and that kept him in the vehicle as we were rolling around and tumbling. His legs, his ankles, up to his femurs, were just shattered. His lower back was broken, and at that point in time, I'd seen the guy that was sitting next to me. He was about 50 yards in front of me, and I'm staring at the vehicle perpendicular to me. So I'm looking through where the passenger seat would be, the shotgun seat, and I see him just laying in a big puddle of his own blood in the middle of the road, and I told the guy I was trying to treat that I couldn't pull him out.

I ran over to help him, and that's when the rest of my guys showed up, so I just frantically started searching for a gun because mine was in pieces, and I went and took cover, and one of my friends came over and he helped me patch up my wounds. I had shrapnel on my face and I had burns on my face, second degree burns on my face. I mean, shrapnel in my neck, I had holes in my right and left leg. I broke my ankle, and then the concussion. Finally got treated, or got some first aid on there, and then some helicopters landed.

During this time, I had to direct my platoon as they ran up. I didn't have to, but I just knew what the scene looked like, so I remember my guys running up and asking where our lieutenant was, and I had to keep emphasizing that he was gone, you know? And they wanted to still see his body, so I pointed them in the direction, but I made sure that the imperative was to get this gunner who's stuck, get the driver out who's bleeding out, get the guy that was sitting next to me, because he's got a massive head wound. They took precedence at that moment.

Then, so the healing process from that, I went straight into surgery, and it was excruciating. They had to dig out shrapnel and wire brushed my face to get all the burns and debris off. From there, I went off to Qatar. I wasn't even 21, by the way. I'm 19 getting ready to turn 20. I turned 20 in Qatar, so yeah, on May 18th. So a month after I was wounded, I was still healing in Qatar, and then they sent me back to Fallujah, and I wasn't ready for it. So I ended up going home, and I didn't really recover quite like I wanted to. I was just given an excessive amount of meds, essentially. It was a struggle from there.

Dr Daniel Amen: When did you go back to Fallujah?

Denny Salisbury: It was June of '07, that same year. I went and healed for a little while after being wounded, and then-

Dr Daniel Amen: And did you go back to doing the same job?

Denny Salisbury: That injury ended up getting me medically separated from the Marine Corps on a med board. I got a severance package.

Dr Daniel Amen: In June, when you went back to Fallujah, you then got a medical board and then were-

Denny Salisbury: I began the process. I had to get out of the country. I wasn't in the right mindset, and I didn't feel 100%, and I couldn't justify it to my buddies. I was like, "Hey, I want to come out there with you, but I don't feel 100%, and that could get one of you killed or me killed. I just can't." It's not something I was willing to risk.

Tana Amen: Who died in the vehicle?

Denny Salisbury: 1st Lieutenant Shaun Blue, Lance Corporal Jesse Delatorre.

Tana Amen: Both of them died?

Denny Salisbury: Yes. Then so when I flew back to Fallujah, they kind of had me do some mundane duties like radio watch in the command center, and the very first day in Fallujah, the very first day back seeing my unit after being separated from them for a while, and I'm sitting in there on radio watch, and the first thing that happens to me is my platoon's taking contact, and I hear right over the net that we had a KIA already, and he's not even just from my platoon, but he's from my squad, so he was shot in the head by a sniper. He was killed.

I was supposed from that duty, radio watch, to my psychologist, right? Then within my radio watch, I hear this. The XO, the executive officer, kind of like the second dude in charge in the COC, he comes over to me and he goes, "Hey, Lance Corporal Salisbury, just so you know, Lance Corporal Strong was just shot and killed by a sniper, so if you hear any rumors, you know the answer, all right?" He's all, "You can go see your buddy before you go to your next psych appointment." So this guy that I'm going to see was one of the most motivational Marines I'd ever met. He had trained me to be who I was. He was a really good person, but he had gotten sick, and so I was supposed to go over there but not tell him that his friend just got killed.

I had to go in there. I was crying like crazy, and I felt bad, because I wasn't so much crying to see him. I was crying because I couldn't tell him that our friend just got killed, and it was really a screwed up situation. I went to see the psych and I was like, "I can't be here right now. I'm not right in my head." I used a couple choice words and sayings and I guess they ended up sending me home. [inaudible 00:24:15].

Dr Daniel Amen: Wow.

Tana Amen: Wow.

Dr Daniel Amen: So, what happened then?

Denny Salisbury: So I went, I came back to the US, and-

Dr Daniel Amen: And what month is that?

Denny Salisbury: I got back July 1st of 2007. On July 1st, I remember I was able to request leave, and I went home. Right off the bat, there was some drama that happened at home, so it was just-

Tana Amen: So you walked right into challenges, which wasn't helpful, probably.

Denny Salisbury: No, I went straight ... I mean, yeah, right when I got home, the very first thing I see is this guy just punches a girl and knocks her out right in front of me, and I was like, what? This is not what I just fought for. I was seriously disturbed. I remember telling people, they were asking what's wrong, because I had bandages on and I was on crutches. They were like, "What's wrong with you?" I said that I was hurt in Iraq, and they said, "Oh, really, was it a car wreck or a motorcycle wreck?"

Tana Amen: Oh, my God.

Denny Salisbury: The level of ignorance that I came home to was very disgusting. At that time, there's all these sports games on, and people just had this disconnect from the reality that we're over there fighting and dying, and there was all this fake thank yous. "Thank you for your service." Not saying that all of them are fake, but there was kind of like a false support.

Tana Amen: I can only assume it probably had to feel to you like, why was I there? Like, why did I risk my life and almost lose my life and two of my buddies lost their lives, or three of them, or however many of them, tons of them? Why did I do this?

Denny Salisbury: Yeah, that has been a question I'm sure that's haunted quite a few people. At the same time, I don't want to be negative about the military. I mean, the Marines, the Army. That experience, those people that I met and lived with were the greatest people I've ever met and will ever meet.

Tana Amen: No, and a lot of us sincerely do consider ... I feel safer, and I know a lot of people agree with me, you know, police officers, soldiers, we sleep better at night because we know there are people out there who do that job. It's a necessary thing. It's just got to feel, to those of you who experienced what you experienced, like, why did I do it? We certainly feel like they could do a better job of supporting our heroes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, it was an ambivalent war, like Vietnam was an ambivalent-

Denny Salisbury: I didn't know why we were there, really.

Dr Daniel Amen: It was an ambivalent war. Nobody felt threatened because of the Vietnamese in Southeast Asia, and nobody felt threatened by Saddam Hussein in California, right? But because of the political powers that be, and as soldiers, as an infantry medic and as an infantry Marine, that's sort of not our job, right?

Denny Salisbury: Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: Our job is to do what we're told, and we do, but when you come home, whether from Vietnam or from Iraq, and people don't really understand, they don't get it, it's hard. You ask yourself the question, why did that happen? But, tell us quickly, and then we're going to go on to the scan and we're going to go on to healing. Tell us quickly, over the next 10 years, what happened?

Denny Salisbury: Actually, I got to the point where I was on so much medication, and at that time, I'm having a daughter that's being born, and I have a wife that isn't so much ... We weren't right for each other kind of a thing. So I was in a very, very bad state. I wanted to die every day. I felt like I wanted to die every day. I was on so many medications and just no hope, spending all my money. It wasn't what I wanted, and I knew it, but I couldn't do anything about it. It was so hard to come off those medications just by yourself. It's deadly, even.

I remember going to the VA, and I was begging them for help. Every day, I was taking an excessive amount of medications, and I just wanted, again, to die. I got to the point where I really did, I tried to kill myself. I wanted to shoot myself in the head, and when I squeezed my trigger, the [inaudible 00:29:00] of the gun did not go off.

Tana Amen: Oh, wow.

Denny Salisbury: I was extremely fortunate, but you know what? At the same time, I may have subconsciously not loaded it. It had a magazine in it, but the bullet in the chamber did not fire, so I mean ...

Tana Amen: Wow.

Denny Salisbury: So I went straight into the VA and to my psychologist and I was like, "I really need help right now, or I'm going to die. I'm going to die." I remember, I swear to God, I got on my hands and knees and I begged her. I was like, "Please, help me," and I'm crying, tears are frickin' pouring out of my face. They kind of just didn't do anything. For two months, I'm sitting there begging for my life, it felt like, and I'm asking for them to put me in a program, and I'm looking for programs on my own. Finally I just got the point where I advocated for myself. Even though I'm in a delirium, I'm almost unconscious every day from all the meds, I just knew that I had to be in a better place.

I was so desperate that I ended up going to this rehab center that's in downtown San Francisco. It's in one of the most ghetto parts of San Francisco. You can hear gunshots when you're in that place. You can hear them outside, and the people that are coming off the streets with drug addiction and they're trying to suffer through their withdrawals under a roof. They all have scabies and bedbugs, and it's just ... But I was so desperate to get clean that I went in there and I suffered through two weeks of it of just sheer agony.

In order for me to go to this program at Menlo Park, I knew that I wanted to go there clean and sober, and after I voiced that concern, they made sure that I couldn't get in there unless I was clean or sober. Finally I was able to get healed from that. Not even healed. I had to leave that rehab center, because it was just so much, too much for me, but I went home and just suffered the other two weeks just on my own.

Dr Daniel Amen: Was this prescription medication, or was this other kinds of drugs?

Denny Salisbury: This was all prescription. I don't do street drugs, just prescriptions that were given to me through the military, through the VA. There was no regulation so much, so I was just able to keep asking for more and more in higher amounts.

Dr Daniel Amen: One statistic, my friend, Colonel Daniel Johnston, told me, the more prescription medications veterans are on, the more likely they are to kill themselves.

Tana Amen: Crazy. Well, it makes sense.

Denny Salisbury: I believe that. I was on 15 at the highest point.

Dr Daniel Amen: Wow.

Denny Salisbury: I'm not even 21 at that time, on 15 medications. Give me a break.

Tana Amen: I've shared that horror.

Dr Daniel Amen: That's what traditional medicine does. It's, you have a symptom, they give you a drug. You have a side effect-

Tana Amen: And they're disconnected.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... They give you a drug for the side effect.

Tana Amen: They're all disconnected.

Dr Daniel Amen: When did you go into the program in Menlo Park?

Denny Salisbury: That was, I want to say, sometime in 2012. Maybe like August?

Dr Daniel Amen: Okay, and you found that to be really helpful for you, correct?

Denny Salisbury: It was. It was a three month in-patient program, and in the last month, their focus is on trauma therapy. To kind of dissect your trauma, they take you all the way back to where it started and you look at it from multiple perspectives, and it kind of helps you understand where problematic thinking arises from.

Tana Amen: That's awesome.

Denny Salisbury: I thought it was very helpful. They also taught communication skills and coping skills and anger management, and at the same time, there was a cycling program within that. I was like, I'll do it, I'll try the spandex, I'll clip in, you know? I was super biased against wearing spandex at the time, but it's funny, because it's really helpful for this sickness.

Dr Daniel Amen: Sort of like you and minivans.

Tana Amen: Yeah, I won't drive a minivan, yes. And I won't wear pink lace.

Denny Salisbury: So I started-

Dr Daniel Amen: So that was super helpful. All right, so now people have sort of a context for what happened to you and the war that you were still in when you came home. The war really never left, and in fact, it accelerated and got worse.

Tana Amen: So I don't know if you saw, before we just end this, Chloe and I recently watched the movie Thank You for Your Service, and it was so sad, but it did a really good job of talking about how when these guys come home, the different perspectives. One guy just wants to go back, wants to go back, but he can't. One guy is like you. Desperate, he suffered so much over there, and he's desperately begging them to help him. Can't get the help he needs, and the VA is pretty much just overwhelmed, and they just can't do a good job.

Dr Daniel Amen: Well, they don't have the right model.

Tana Amen: They don't.

Dr Daniel Amen: How many people in your recovery, since you came home from Iraq, looked at your brain and taught you how to rehabilitate it?

Denny Salisbury: I don't think anybody looked at my brain. Maybe when I was in Camp Pendleton, I got a brain scan? And I was able to do some ... Oh, I can't think of what it's called ... Some sort of therapy for that, but I don't think they really grasped how bad or what direction it was, versus yeah, it PTSD or TBI. They didn't calculate it down to the way that your scan has done it, what you have told me.

Dr Daniel Amen: So when we come back, we're going to talk a little bit about you and Denny met, and then your visit to the clinic, and what you learned, and what happened then. Stay with us.

Thank you for listening to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review, and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of The Brain Warrior's Way and The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook we give away every month.