NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Some people who have survived the unthinkable are giving back by helping people who are facing similar challenges.
Two men who have survived trauma themselves are now helping trauma patients at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“Patients are hurting. They’re fighting for their lives,” said Douglas Brown, a volunteer at the Vanderbilt Trauma Unit and a trauma survivor. “They are simply afraid.”
Several years ago Brown wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to work again.
He fell out of a 2-1/2 story window, landing on a brick sidewalk.
With a lot of help and support, he’s now back on his feet.
Brown spends every Thursday night at Vanderbilt visiting with trauma patients.
“You have something in common, that’s rare and difficult for people who haven’t been there to understand,” said Brown. “We try to give them encouragement and hope by showing them someone who has been down that road and crossed that bridge already, and sharing with them that I’ve been where they are and I understand how they feel.”
Brown met with Justin Chain on Thursday, the newest trauma volunteer.
Chain is a former contestant on The Voice. He was critically injured in a motorcycle accident in 2008.
“They told me they didn’t expect I’d ever walk again or use my hands,” said Chain. “I was only 18 at the time, so what should’ve been the best years of my life went the opposite direction.”
Chain said he experience a lot of depression after his accident, and was even suicidal for a while, but he never gave up on trying to get better.
“I made myself a promise that I was going to do whatever it took to get better,” said Chain. “I made the decision that I was going to be proof that life was worth living, that you can get better, but’s it’s something I fought for every single day.”
Now Chain not only wants to be an inspiration for other people in his shoes, he wants to be a symbol of hope for their families as well.
“I want to be proof to people going through the trauma,” said Chain. “That as long as you stay positive and try, there’s at least a chance. But if you give up, then you’ll never know. Proof to their families as well that maybe one day everything will be OK.”
This kind of volunteering isn’t just good for the patients and their families.
“I go in to encourage these patients every week and every week I leave here at night more encouraged that I was when I came, so it’s working both ways,” said Brown. “The relationships, everything that we judge each other by out on the streets, do not apply within the trauma unit. There’s no rich, no poor, no race, just people trying to live.