Fern W.

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In 2009 my life changed drastically due to two stroke. Recovering from a brain injury was challenging, frustrating, and fearful. I made a commitment to myself that I would not JUST EXIST but LIVE no matter how well I recovered. And that’s what my partner Pat and I set out to do—learning to live with the new me. Challenging? You bet!

I grew up in Portland and enjoyed all kinds of sports (aka: female jock). After college and with the Viet Nam war in full swing, I joined the U.S. Army Special services, “to see the world”. I spent 2 years in Korea stationed by the DMZ and then 2 years+ in Viet Nam. On home leave, I realized that I had spent to many years outside of a rapidly changing USA (what the heck was this thing called “Watergate”?); I decided not to “re-up”. I went to work for Tektronix (until I could find to work in my profession), 25+ years later I retired from Tektronix.

I like to keep busy, so after retirement I learned the “joy of life and the joy of cooking”. In addition, I was actively involved with City of Portland Neighborhood Watch program; our neighborhood association as being our Public Safety chair; during the City of Portland budgeting cycle, I was an active participant on the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) budget task committee. My real passion is to ride my motorcycle (trike) plus, cooking for friends, and gardening. After my strokes, and with a strike of luck and hard work, I was able to continue all of the above with the help of friends, colleagues, and other dedicated folks.

What I miss doing after my strokes is working with tools and machines to repair or build “things” (simply a minor complaint in comparison to other alternatives that might have happened….wheelchair bound, etc). After an extensive rehabilitation and some damn good care both physically and spiritually plus a “stroke of luck”, I realized that having a brain injury opened new doors for me. I phased out of the above focus public contribution areas and became more actively involved with the brain injury non-profit organizations in Portland Metro area. The focus of each of the organizations has been to connect those with brain injury to people, resources, and services that best serve their needs. I have met and worked with some truly an amazing groups of professionals and volunteers who are committed to wiping away the stigma and unknowns of brain injury by helping bring a face, information and hope to our brain injury community. I am now affiliated with is Brain Injury Connections-North West (BIC-NW).

One of my biggest opportunities that I had after my strokes I was honored to be invited to meet and work with you amazing people on the Governor’s Task Force-TBI 2013-2016. Our main charter on the Task Force is to find any holes in policy and practices in the State of Oregon Agencies (to include the Veterans) that might prohibit brain injury survivors from receiving support and services from any of the State Agencies. We not only were asked to find the “holes” but to make recommendations as to how to condense or elevate those holes + make recommendation for follow-up tracking.