Sergeant First Class Michael “Rod” Rodriguez entered the Army on June 2, 1992. He was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division where he deployed to Somalia in 1993 and Haiti in 1994. Rod’s second assignment took him to White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). Shortly after reporting, he volunteered to attend Special Forces Assessment and Selection in 1997. He was selected to attend the Special Forces Qualification Course as an 18D (Special Forces Medic) and, after completing the two years of training, was assigned to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) team 772, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
While assigned to 7th Group, he deployed all over Central and South America, along with two tours to Afghanistan in support of theatre operations and the Global War on Terrorism. Throughout his career, Michael suffered over a dozen concussions/mTBI’s, several of which led to his hospitalization. It was during his last deployment to Afghanistan in 2006 that he received three more subsequent traumatic brain injuries (TBI's) within a few weeks while conducting combat operations, one of which being caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) that he hit while on his all terrain vehicle conducting security screening operations. His life was forever changed at that moment, yet as the senior medical person on site, Michael chose to keep his injuries to himself and stay with his ODA instead of being medevac’d. After re-deployment in late 2006, Michael was assigned to U. S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School as a Sniper Instructor in March 2007. As his medical condition worsened, it became impossible to hide and was a hindrance to his duty performance, as well as his home life. He was sent to National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda where he was diagnosed with multiple TBI's and Severe PTS.
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The Bush Institute Speaks with Michael Rodriguez about the Invisible Wounds of War
Because we know that the health and wellbeing of post-9/11 veterans is often complex, the Bush Institute has asked veterans to explain in their own words what it’s like to experience one or more of these injuries.