Guardsmen show support for Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky

Story by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Kentucky Guardsmen join supporters of the Brian Injury Alliance of Kentucky (BIAK) for a rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., March 12, 2014. BIAK held the rally to show support for legislation up for vote by Kentucky’s elected officials. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard joined with the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky (BIAK) and its supporters for BIAK’s 2014 Rally at the Rotunda in the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., March 12.

BIAK acts as the voice for the more than 225,000 Kentuckians have been affected by brain injuries. The purpose of the rally was to push support for legislation that would benefit those affected and strengthen laws for guarding against future brain injuries.

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Col. Michael Gavin, State Surgeon for the Kentucky National Guard speaks to supporters of the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., March 12, 2014. The Kentucky Guard was on hand to support BIAK and their work to assist Service members and their families affected by brain injuries. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“It is important that Kentuckians understand the prevalence of brain injuries and their devastating impact on the lives of both the victims and their families,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to the crowd of supporters pledging his support for the legislation and declared March 12 as Brain Injury Awareness Day in the commonwealth.

Speakers noted that one in five Kentucky families are affected by a brain injury and that Kentucky’s numbers are nearly double the national average for brain injuries. In the military, more than 294,000 members have suffered a brain injury during the Global War on Terror.

Kentucky National Guard State Surgean Col. Michael Gavin spoke about his experiences in treating brain injuries, both on the battlefield and here at home.  During a 2005 tour of duty in Iraq he treated more than 138 injuries due to improvised explosive devices.  One of his own Soldiers suffered brain trauma after being hit by an IED while on patrol.

“He wanted to be well, to serve his fellow Soldiers, but he was unable to do so because of this very real injury.  This was a frightening experience for all of us.”

Gavin reinforced the necessity for awareness about brain injuries and their treatment.  “This is an experience which occurs to some degree to almost 1.6 milllion of our countrymen every year.  Fortunately, and because of your efforts, we are making strides in the best treatment which is prevention, and in disseminating information about the most appropriate evaluation and treatment of these all too common injuries.”

State Auditor Adam Edelen spoke of how BIAK resembles a family taking care of their own and the relevance of that work ethic to the crisis of brain injuries.

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Gov. Steve Beshear reads a proclamation declaring March 12 as Brain Injury Awareness Day in Kentucky during a rally for the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., March 12, 2014. Beshear then presented the plaque to Mary Hass and Chell Austin with the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky during the rally. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“I know of no other organization anywhere in Kentucky that does a better job advocating for those in their critical point of need than BIAK,” he said.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky is a non-profit agency that began in Lexington, Ky. in the early 1980s and is now based in Louisville, Ky. BIAK seeks to share its philosophy, experience and skills with survivors, family members, students, caregivers, administrators, health professionals, legislators, the lay community and all those who desire to make a difference in the life of individuals with brain injuries and their families.

For more information, visit BIAK’s website at www.biak.us

Legislation up for support by BIAK included:

House Bill 235 – An addition of 303 new slots in the ABI acute and long-term Medicaid waivers in the Governor’s Executive Summary.

House Bill 157 – A bill requiring certain physicians to get training in recognizing the subtle signs of child abuse.

House Bill 199 – A bill that improves the requirements for booster seats and will protect Kentucky’s children.

House Bill 33 – A bill that improves on Kentucky’s texting and driving legislation.

House Bill 256 – A bill that will create a registry for adult abuse offenders to protect Kentucky’s vulnerable citizens.

Senate Bill 98 – Provides protection to Kentucky’s vulnerable citizens.

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