Posted on July 17, 2012 · Posted in TBI Voices

Many of our regular followers have not been with TBI Voices since the beginning.  Thus, I thought it would be a good idea to review how we started and in the next few weeks, go over some of our early stories, so that those who are following us now, could get a feel for our earlier participants.

To begin this revisiting, I want to start with the words I used to launch TBI Voices in September of 2010, in my introduction to Lethan Candlish’s performance of Who Am I Again?  which explains how I came upon the idea of doing TBI Voices.

Good evening and thank you for coming.  I’m attorney Gordon Johnson with the Brain Injury Law Group.

In the 1930s they had a stimulus package and they called it the WPA.  I am not old enough to remember that but I heard a lot about the depression from my parents.  Recently I learned an interesting thing about the WPA, that in addition to all the bridges and all the roads they built and all the trees they planted,  they also decided that they needed to put writers to work.

I was a writer at one time in my life – I went to journalism school, before law school.  It was interesting to hear that someone was concerned about jobs for writers in the 30s, because I don’t see anybody saying we need a stimulus bill for writers now.  I know a lot of my friends are out-of-work writers.

But as government tends to do sometimes, they hired all of these writers, without much of a plan as to what they were going to write about. So at the beginning, these writers fumbled around doing little for a while before they came up with an idea.  What they ultimately came up with was to write a guidebook for the 50 states and each state would have its own guidebook.

I don’t know if it was politics or whatever but they decided that they had to have something about every little town.  So in a state like mine of Wisconsin, towns like Sheboygan (where I am from) and the Berlin (where I live) would all have their little section in this guidebook.

Fortunately,  because of the quality of the writers that were put to work,  they didn’t’ get a tourist book but they got an archive of stories of people who were alive during the depression.  Further, because  they also hired black writers like Ralph Ellerson and Richard Wright and they got stories of actual slaves from people who were still alive who had been slaves.

The great thing out of Federal writers’ project of the 30s was that they created this huge archive of the stories and the voices of the people who were alive then.

And when I heard about this I thought ‘Wow, where’s the stimulus money for writers now?  That’s maybe something I should think about?’  I’m not much of a politician and I’m certainly not capable of getting money raised from the federal government. Then I had an idea.

I’ve been doing brain injury work for about 20 years now and what I’ve learned is the reason that the medical establishment gets it wrong so much of time, why diagnoses are missed, why the treatment isn’t given, why things just are not done as well as they should be done is, that the medical community does not listen to the stories of the brain injured person.  They don’t listen to the voice of the brain injured person.  They don’t listen to the family members of the brain injured person and unfortunately they don’t get the context of the change in the behavior, the change in the human being and the real story.

When I thought about that for a little bit longer, I decided that what I wanted to do, the major contribution I want to make over the next decade is I want to be part of a archive of TBI voices.

In launching ,what we want to do is to give the medical community, the brain injury community, our society a public record, an internet record, an archive of what brain injury is really like, who the people are before, who the people become and the impact it has on the life of the injured person, the impact it has on the family.

We are doing this with the of not only telling the story but shifting the science of brain injury because the diagnosis and treatment of brain injury is not an objective science.  It is good old doctoring.  It is something that requires that the doctor must use subjective judgment and the application of clinical wisdom to the person that’s been injured.

I’ve heard our storyteller tonight before, and when I decided that the TBI voices was a cause that I wanted to devote my time and my career to, I realized that this man was the person to begin this project.  And I’m not going to really introduce our storyteller because that’s what he’s going to do.  I would like to now have Lethan Candlish from Jonesboro, Tennessee come forward.

For the rest of that opening performance go to

Next: Angela Suffers Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury in Car Truck Collision

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447