ARLINGTON, Virginia (October 12, 2022) - -What do Vincent Van Gough, President Roosevelt, Actor Danny Glover, and Spc. Jacob Wilson have in common? They all had or have epilepsy! Spc. Wilson found out just over a year ago, after a month of leave back in the states for his 21st birthday, that he would join the ranks of 150,000 people annually who are diagnosed with epilepsy.
“On my last flight from mainland Japan to Okinawa where I was stationed at Kadena Air Base, I had a seizure. My flight was diverted, and I was taken off the plane and sent to the hospital at Yokota Airbase.”
After a week’s stay in the hospital and multiple seizures, Wilson saw a neurologist in Hawaii for further evaluation.
“I was concerned, and wondered am I going to be able to drive again, can I stay in the military? What are the impacts this will have on my life,” asked Wilson. He learned he had the condition associated with seizures but hoped he didn’t.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy and had a Navy Neurologist who recommended me for Med Board.” From there he was sent to the Fort Riley Soldier Recovery Unit but not with Med boarding on his mind… just the opposite!
“It was pretty scary and eventually I started looking in to the regs and the Army says if you can go a year without a seizure while on medication, you can stay in,” said the small arms and munitions repair specialist.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, of those 150,000 people who are diagnosed annually with epilepsy, about 75% of them can control their seizures through medicine or surgery. (NINDS July 2022)
Wilson utilized the Fort Riley Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in every way possible. He did learn he would be Return to Duty (RTD). He has been seizure free while on medication for more than nine months now.
“All three of my Nurse Case Managers were great and worked with me for a positive way forward from not being med boarded, to furthering my education and being able to have a normal way of life,” said Wilson.
He didn’t require Physical Therapy, but his medical visits were the priority. The activities offered at the SRU kept him out of his room and engaged with his fellow Soldiers.
“I think it’s an incredibly good program! The Adaptive Reconditioning program is designed to work with Soldiers and their needs,” said the avid gunsmith.
There are a number of group classifications minimum, moderate intensity, and more for adaptive reconditioning and Wilson was thrilled the SRU made a new group plan just for him.
“Once they knew I was designated as RTD they created a new one called the Return to Duty group where we work specifically on the components of the ACFT. They ask me what I want to do and what I want to improve upon. Other people started coming to the group to participate too that was great!”
At 22 years old, he’s seen the world, tackled the hurdle of recovery, kept his job, and slayed epilepsy enough to keep the upper hand. Now that he still has the Army in his future, he has an even bigger goal he wants to pursue.
“Hopefully, I can go to Fort Bragg and go to airborne school.”
The sky’s the limit, Jacob!