It's A Gray Area: We need more brain-injury centers like this one

You may not be aware that adults with brain injuries have precious few facilities in the U.S. that offer the care and assistance they need.

As we remember our fallen troops this weekend, let us discuss those who have survived but suffered brain injuries while serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf War.

We have nowhere to put them so that they can thrive. In fact, many relatives of adults with brain injuries — both veterans and civilians — have told me they wouldn't allow their pets, let alone their loved ones, to stay in the places available.

We have breached our contract with the troops who have fought to keep us free. This is a national disgrace.

Join me and other good people in promising our veterans on this Memorial Day that we will work hard to correct this failure.

Fortunately, there is hope.

Cypress-based B.R.A.I.N., or Brain Rehabilitation and Injury Network, is developing a plan to meet the needs of adults with brain injuries.

This great organization has plans to buy and develop a multi-acre campus where brain-injured adults can live, have suitable recreation and receive appropriate medical care, according to the group's website, Part of the plan is to make it possible for the residents to use mass transit to commute to suitable jobs and encourage employers to bring suitable jobs to the campus itself.

B.R.A.I.N. helps brain-injury survivors and their families whatever their finances. Because it has such a high ratio of volunteer help, B.R.A.I.N. is able to offer its services without the expectation of financial gain.

Services include a hotline for survivors and their families. The staff seeks personally to answer each call and provide some needed assistance within two business days.

One of the most important parts of the program is the opportunity for survivors to be paired up with a volunteer. The staff knows that survivors almost always improve faster when they are engaged in real life and coached by an understanding and sensitive partner.

The program also includes weekly nuts and bolts meetings both for survivors and their families. That means the entire family can receive valuable information about what all members are facing.

Survivors can learn skills in communication, public speaking, game playing and other social activities. Special presentations by physicians, therapists and researchers, as well as legal and financial experts, give practical information, inspiration and encouragement.

So if you or someone you know has a friend or loved one who has suffered a brain injury, spread the word about B.R.A.I.N. and its social networking program. People can also sign up for a monthly newsletter offering information and interesting articles frequently written by survivors telling their stories of mishap and victory. Call Sue Rueb at (714) 828-1760.

Once you see that adults with brain injuries can thrive with the right care and inspiration, you will want to be involved in this great organization. Once you focus on what is needed for veterans and civilians, you will want to help expand this program.

Joy can be found even in the midst of a tragedy like brain injury. A helping hand, a touch, a smile and a friendly ear are often exactly what the survivors and their families need.

No one signs up for brain injuries, but we are all in this together because it can happen to anyone.

Let's celebrate this Memorial Day by giving thanks to our veterans and other brain injury survivors in a tangible way by helping B.R.A.I.N. grow. It is hard to imagine a more worthwhile or more gratifying gift.

JAMES P. GRAY is a retired Orange County Superior Court judge. He lives in Newport Beach. He can be contacted at

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