MANATEE -- Local veterans expressed gratitude to Roskamp Institute on Friday for the research it is doing on Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injuries, Gulf War Illness -- a chronic, multisymptom disorder characterized by fatigue, muscle pain, cognitive problems, rashes and bowel problems -- and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I am so enheartened that men and women serving today will get the help, and the healing, that they need," said Marty Monkiewicz, a Vietnam War-era vet. "There are no words to express how I feel."
Similarly, Anthony Hardie, a nationally recognized advocate for veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness, expressed encouragement.
"For veterans with brain diseases and injuries, it's a relief to know that treatment is on the way," said Hardie, a Bradenton resident. "What's exciting is that much of this is happening here in Florida, including right here in our own backyard at Roskamp."
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Fiona Crawford, president of Roskamp, started Friday's open house -- its most significant outreach yet to veterans -- by saying plans are being made to expand the clinic with
a focus on veterans.
"There may not be actual treatment for things we are looking at now, but they are coming," she said.
Roskamp's research is funded in part by the National Institute of Health, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs.
One of Friday's presenters, Dr. Michael Hoffman, said brain injuries are such a problem because advances in medicine have helped many veterans survive traumatic injuries that would have killed them in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War.
"There has been about a 10-fold increase in survivability since World War II," Hoffman said. "There is a lot more that we can do for injured brains than you might think, even in the most serious cases."
Winnie Schroeder, a former Navy nurse who provided care to seriously wounded Marines who were returned to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital during the Vietnam War, said she was impressed by what she heard.
"It's phenomenal," Schroeder said.
Alan Toy, a Vietnam vet, said Roskamp is tackling issues that many veterans have dealt with since that war 40 years ago.
"I am going to volunteer for the clinical trials," Toy said.
Veterans interested in learning more about Roskamp's outreach may call 941-752-2949, or visit rfdn.org.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.