Scott Damon was a US Army Blackhawk mechanic from 2006 to 2012. Damon was a kind, dedicated, and joyful spirit who loved his country, his family, and friends. After returning from combat, his mood changed, and he battled Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Damon passed away on September 21, 2017 at age 34. His family donated his brain to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank in Boston for concussion and CTE research.
By Erin Klemczuk, Scott's sister,
Scott Damon was a kind soul who would do anything for anyone. He was extremely proud of his military service, always having a story to tell. He had three nieces, Olivia, Abigail and Aubree, who loved their Uncle Scotty. His three sons Anthony, Jake and Jaxyn were his whole world and he loved them unconditionally.
Scott grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts living with our mother Judy and father Bill. He had an older sister, Jennifer, who he loved riding bikes and playing games with along with their cousins Jason, Jared and Jeremy. His younger brother William was born in February of 1993 and Scott embraced the role of big brother. When I was born in July of 1996, we became inseparable. We would play lacrosse, football and baseball in the backyard, always competing to see who could hit the ball over the house.
In 2006, Scott made the decision to join the United States Army as a Blackhawk mechanic. This decision took him away from home for six years and to Germany, Afghanistan, and Iraq. His first deployment was in Iraq, where he served with a medical evacuation unit. His deployment lasted 15 months and during that time he was flying into combat zones to rescue injured service men and women. When he came home on a visit we noticed some changes in his personality. Scott’s patience became very short and certain noises would make him uncomfortable. This was the beginning of his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Once he returned from Iraq, he moved to Fort Campbell Kentucky and deployed to Afghanistan. He flew into the mountains transporting troops and other people throughout the area. He was happiest in the air in the back of the helicopter. During both deployments he was the gunner on the door. Scott was in three helicopter crashes or hard landings.
I remember the day Scott’s plane landed on the base returning from Afghanistan. I was so incredibly proud of my big brother. He took us around the area and we got to see a little piece of his life in Kentucky. Scott seemed so happy and optimistic about life after the military. He was excited to move home and spend time with family and friends.
Scott drove home directly from Kentucky, which was about a 15-hour ride. When he arrived home, he was sleep deprived and exhausted. He was having flashbacks to his deployments and was admitted to the VA hospital for help. He believed he was clearing the road and prepping the helicopter for flights. After sleeping he was fine, but the reality was his PTSD was a lot more severe than we thought.
Scott’s first son Anthony was born in 2011, then Jake in 2014 and Jaxyn in 2016. His boys were his life and he loved taking them to the Salem Willows, to parks, and to visit his family. Anthony loved learning about the helicopters his daddy worked on and they were two peas in a pod. Jake loved to play monster trucks with Scott and they would always race each other around the yard. Jaxyn was a baby when Scott passed, but Scott was always holding him and playing with him. His boys were his whole world and his proudest accomplishment in life. Whenever they needed him he was there and loved them unconditionally.
Scott tried to live a normal life, but his brain just was not working correctly. With the helicopter crashes and PTSD we figured something was going on, but we needed to figure out how to help him. Doctors prescribed him different things, but nothing helped with his pain. He did not like how those prescriptions made him feel, as he would often sleep and isolate himself after taking them. We would never be able to understand what my brother went through during his deployments. He never let his inner pain show on the outside. His smile was contagious and would always make people laugh.
Our whole world came crashing down when Scott passed away on September 21, 2017. At his services, people told stories of how Scott impacted their lives; a helping hand at work, a friend they could confide in, or someone who made them smile. Hearing those stories made me so proud to be his sister.
Jennifer and I made the decision to donate Scott’s brain to the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank in Boston. Scott was very open about his journey through life and would be the first person there if someone needed help. We knew that donating his brain could potentially help other people going through the same battle Scott did. We wanted answers and through the Concussion Legacy Foundation and the research at the Brain Bank we were able to get them. My family was so incredibly lucky to have Scott in our lives and I am so blessed to have had 21 years with my big brother. He will forever be our American hero.
Read about Project Enlist, CLF’s program to accelerate research on TBI, CTE and PTSD in military Veterans.
You May Also Like
Living with suspected CTE can be difficult, but CTE is not a death sentence and it is important to maintain hope. Find out how.Living with CTE
Although we cannot yet accurately diagnose CTE in living people, a specialist can help treat the symptoms presenting the most challenges.CTE Treatments