Who was Ryan F. Larkin?
Ryan Larkin was a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL that had served his country honorably, to include four combat deployments. On this day three years ago, April 23, 2017 Ryan committed suicide.
Ryan was not only a U.S. Navy SEAL, but he was a Corpsman and a trained sniper and breacher. Over the course of his career, to include training and deployments, Ryan was exposed to blasts such as mortars on a regular basis due to his job. Ryan started experiencing headaches and other health issues and was diagnosed with PTSD. We didn’t know Ryan, but from our research of him and his family it seems that his frustrations with his PTSD diagnosis, continued medication changes, and no improvement were wearing thin on him. Ryan was honorably discharged from the Navy and sought out continued treatment at the VA. It seems as though his frustrations with his deteriorating health continued. He suffered nightmares, insomnia, and daily headaches. Ryan was vocal about his concerns and expressed that there was more going on within his brain. He also voiced that if something were to happen to him then he would like his brain to be donated to science for further research. After Ryan passed his family did just that. They had Ryan’s brain tissue donated for research. It was found that the “invisible wounds of war” that are so frequently discussed were a very real part of Ryan. His brain showed Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and lesions called astroglial scarring, which are lesions closely related to blast exposures. These microscopic tears are undetectable via standard MRI or PET scan.
Since the release of these results Ryan’s father has been an advocate for TBI research and awareness. Mr. Frank Larkin is a former Navy SEAL himself and has even spoken out to the President advocating for further TBI awareness.
On April 14, 2020 the New York-Presbyterian Ryan F. Larkin Field Hospital at Columbia University Baker Athletic Complex was opened. This hospital is staffed by mostly military veterans, to include Special Operations Medics utilizing their unique skill sets to aid in the fight against COVD-19 in New York City.
SOM+C’s very own Ricky Ditzel - Lead of Research and Development, and Amilcar Rodriguez - Lead of Community Outreach are standout leaders in this effort. SOM+C is not only proud of the motivation of our staff and members, but humbled at the opportunity to not only fight against COVID-19, but also bring awareness to Ryan Larkin, and the TBI problem plaguing our military members, and more specifically our SOF veterans. Our SOF medics put themselves last, while putting their “team” and patients first. They are being discharged and suffering from issues such as improper diagnosis due to lack of awareness, and research. It is our mission to Support our Special Operations Medics from Battlefield Provider to Veteran Professional. This includes advocating for further TBI research and awareness. Our current fundraiser (here) not only supports the dedicated military veterans treating citizens in New York, but a portion will be donated towards Traumatic Brain Injury research and awareness in memory of Ryan F. Larkin. Please help us make a significant contribution to this cause, as we know there are many more veterans suffering from the “invisible wounds of war”.