Stronger through adversity: Airman rebounding after Aneurysm

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- Early on Dec. 9, 2015, Staff Sgt. Rasheed, a 7th Intelligence Squadron signals intelligence analyst, experienced a cerebral aneurysm. From what he can recall, and what he has been told, a neighbor found him unresponsive in his Maryland apartment while his dog ran loose outside, door wide open.

Right away, Rasheed’s family was notified and they rushed to be by his side at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Neurological Intensive Care Unit, Baltimore, Maryland. When they left home, they were uncertain what condition he could be in when they arrival.

"I was getting ready to go to lunch and kept getting a recurring call," Rasheed’s mother, Debra, said. "The police informed me first, so I called my husband, and we got right on the road with no hesitation."

At the hospital, Rasheed remained in an unresponsive state for several hours, with no cerebral functions, and the neurosurgeons believed he might not survive the next few days.

Then, suddenly, five days later, Rasheed awoke and began to show responsiveness.

His recovery has been long, but his support system has been strong.

After three months at UMMC, and with the help of his mother and his squadron, Rasheed was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for his recovery.

Because of the aneurysm, Rasheed is currently unable to perform his job, but that has not stopped him from working hard to return to the 7th IS.

“I haven't been to work exactly, I still do rehab and many things throughout the day to get back on track," Rasheed said.

During rehabilitation, Rasheed works on cognitive skills exercises, and goes to cooking classes, physical therapy and speech classes. Those are the things he will need to accomplish to get back to work, he said.

While he concentrates on his part, the Airmen of the 7th IS are working on their end to get the ‘morale monitor' back to where he thrives, with them.

"The biggest thing for me has been watching the recovery," said Master Sgt. William, flight chief, 7th IS. "Step-by-step, watching him go from unresponsive to opening his eyes and finally talking again; he's got so much spirit, very funny, and an outgoing guy. The first week he was talking he was already cracking jokes with the nurses."

William has been with Rasheed and his family the entire way, since the first day at the hospital, and he ensures they receive the medical and military support he needs to recover. William is glad that Rasheed, or as his flight calls him, ‘Super-Sheed,’ is continuing the recovery process with a smile on his face.

Rasheed said his favorite part of the recovery process is the physical therapy because he has always been a people person.

"I like seeing how everyone is doing and what's going on in their life," Rasheed explained. "It's all a big plus for me, being able to grasp what's on the other side besides being cooped up. I was a people person before this happened, so being able to interact with others helps me out."

Rasheed’s mother is proud of the strides her son has made, pushing himself to become independent. She currently lives with Rasheed, but said that even with her there, he likes to do everything himself.

‘Super-Sheed’ said he is very thankful for the support everyone has shown him, and he is ready for his comeback.

"I have good people looking out for me… my mom, my squadron.” Rasheed said. "I want to be independent and on my own in the long run. I appreciate everything.”

Rasheed looks forward to his new future.

“The future is a big plus for me,” said Rasheed, who is currently active duty in the Air Force. He is currently undergoing a Medical Evaluation Board, but is aiming to stay on active duty.

His goal is to continue with his resilient spirit and pass it along to others through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program at the National Reconnaissance Office.