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Aug. 6, 2011, was one of the darkest days of the Afghanistan war for the United States military. It was the day a Chinook CH-47 transport helicopter (call sign: Extortion 17) was shot down by insurgents with the loss of 30 U.S. troops, seven Afghan commandos, an Afghan civilian interpreter and a U.S. military dog. Nobody survived the crash.

The Virginia Beach-based non-profit, 31 Heroes, keeps alive the memory of the deceased – many of them Navy SEALS – and supports their families as well as research into traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among service members.

The Brain Injury Law Center was honored to be a sponsor of the grueling Workout of the Day to raise money for 31 Heroes on Aug. 3.

Attorney David Holt’s CrossFit 757 gym took part in the event at the New Realm Brewery in Virginia Beach.

Participants did as many rounds as possible in 31 minutes to honor the 31 U.S service personnel and a dog who died when insurgents brought down the Chinook. The 8-6-11 event which marks the date of the incident, involved eight thrusters, six rope climbs, and 11 box jumps.

“We are very proud of our military heritage here. We hire veterans and retired military members. This was really close to my heart,” David Holt said.

“The owner of my gym (John Weiss) was the founder of this non-profit organization to help these families,” he said.

More than 430 gyms across the country and 10,000 people take part in the Workout of the Day hosted by 31 Heroes. The organization has raised more than $11 million for the families of those who died and other important grant-making and partnership programs.

The link between active combat, traumatic brain injuries, and PTSD is not new but the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the catalyst for more in-depth research.

When veterans returned from the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s they faced insufficient support networks to deal with their problems and a lack of understanding in communities.

Those who served in Afghanistan and Iraq faced brain injuries from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Even certain military weapons are associated with “concussion-related symptoms,” Holt said.

Holt said there is now a greater understanding of the science and the psychology behind PTSD. People involved in other traumatic episodes like car accidents can also suffer from PTSD.

“We as brain injury lawyers know the science pretty well. We know that these concussions can compound over time and certainly have not only a physical effect but also an emotional and psychological effect on these veterans coming back. To the extent that we are able to support services for these heroes, it’s important to us,” Holt said.

PTSD can be a by-product of a TBI. “The anxiety and depression of reliving incidents that caused the brain injury are all part and parcel of PTSD. Many people suffering from TBIs are different people. That’s a huge stressor not just for them personally but for their families and for their friends. People just don’t understand it,” Holt said.

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