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Injured Marine Gets Help From VA And Becomes A Padres Pitcher

San Diego VA Transition Team

San Diego is home to more military veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan than any other city in the nation, and the numbers are growing as the war winds down.

For those seriously injured, the VA transition team stationed in La Jolla is there to help.

From the battle field to the field of Dreams, Nels Cooper Brannan always wanted to be a Marine, but on his second tour in Fallujah, Iraq, his left hand was partially blown off by a grenade.


Debbie Dominick manages a team of 22 social workers known as the transition team.

She said Brannan underwent about 15 surgeries and then got a chance of a lifetime: an audition with the San Diego Padres. "So he did, he went out and pitched for them and they drafted him" Dominick said.

That was in 2007. Dominick has seen many success stories like that at the VA Medical center. Her team's primary goal is to help injured Vets transition back to civilian life and provide counseling when needed. "We're serving 8,000 in this facility currently, and expecting another 17,000" Dominick said.

When Bo Tres got out of the Marine Corps he thought he was done. Now he's a Transition Patient Advocate for the VA. He believes many Vets don't connect their service with what happened to them in the field and don't recognize the trauma they've been through.

"The expectation is we'll find a way to manage it and continue with completing the mission, but it doesn't stop when you receive your discharge papers," Tres said.