Dr. Allan Spiegel Receives Excellence Award from Commandant of the Marine Corps League for Selfless Service to Injured Warriors
Dr. Allan M. Spiegel, M.D. receiving the Commandants Award for Excellence from Vic Voltaggio, National Commandant, MCL.
A group of determined U.S. Marines descended upon the medical offices of Palm Harbor based Neurologist Dr. Allan M. Spiegel, M.D., on Thursday, October 6, 2011. Their mission: to bestow upon him a special honor for his pro bono work to help heal severely injured warriors. Leading this operation was the National Commandant of the Marine Corps League, Vic Voltaggio. Accompanying him were Department of Florida Marines, including Department Commandant Bill Backes, Senior Vice Commandant Lou Calleja, Junior Vice Commandant Bill Cona, Ways and Means Committee Chair John Piazza, and Detachment 054 Judge Advocate Jerry Konrad.
Dr. Spiegel is one of a handful of physicians who treat our nation's severely wounded troops with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). As a practitioner of hyperbaric medicine, Dr. Spiegel explained the process of HBOT and its benefits to the Marines. "HBOT is the use of oxygen in a pressurized chamber as a therapy to treat injury and disease. Research shows that pure oxygen provides beneficial results in treating certain chronic brain injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). Here is how it works: breathing 100% pure oxygen under pressure increases the amount of oxygen dissolved in all body tissues, causing new blood vessels to grow. It's at this point that oxygen starts working as a drug, causing a reduction in tissue swelling, reduces inflammation, and stimulates the development of new blood vessels. Those new blood vessels then provide needed nutrition to the injured area and discard the waste products of cell metabolism."
Standing left to right while viewing Dr. Spiegel’s video study of the recovery of a severely wounded Marine, are Dr. Allan M. Spiegel, M.D., Jerry Konrad, John Piazza, Commandant Vic Voltaggio, Lou Calleja. Sitting left to right: William Cona, and Commandant Bill Backes.
Dr. Spiegel and his wife Stacey are the founders of the Healing Heroes Network (HHN), a national 501 (c) (3) non-profit charity. "HHN's primary purpose is to provide financial aid for therapy to members of our armed forces injured in Iraq and Afghanistan following September 11, 2001," explained Dr. Spiegel. "This is possible through a nationwide network of medical providers. We provide desperately needed financial aid for therapies and services not currently provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). HHN raises funds through public donations to provide financial assistance for medical treatments to veterans, at no cost to them. This can help these brave soldiers once again return to normal and productive lives."
The Marines were riveted to a video Dr. Spiegel showed them of a young Marine patient who sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The film followed the Marine from pre-HBOT sessions to his appearance after multiple therapy sessions. The young warrior showed remarkable improvement in mobility, speech, and other cognitive skills. Following this, Dr. Spiegel led the Marines to his multiple empty Hyperbaric Chambers, where they received the disheartening news that this therapy using pure oxygen as a drug was not being provided to or covered by the VA.
Standing left to right behind one of Dr. Spiegel’s Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers: Dr. Allan M. Spiegel, M.D., John Piazza, Ways and Means Committee & Scholarship Committee Chairman, DoF, MCL, Bill Backes, Commandant, DoF, MCL, Vic Voltaggio, National Commandant, MCL, William Cona, Junior Vice Commandant, DoF, MCL, Lou Calleja, National Chief of Staff, Senior Vice Commandant, DoF, MCL, and Jerry Konrad, Judge Advocate, Detachment 054, DoF, MCL.
Commandant Voltaggio responded by saying, "Doctor, I assure you that our League's Marines and F.M.F. Corpsmen will do all we can to correct this; it will be our mission to help with your efforts to provide this invaluable healing therapy to our severely wounded warriors! And I'll personally do all I can to enlist the support of effective legislative leadership to assist in urging the V. A. to likewise provide this therapy."
Dr. Spiegel then inspired the Marines further by stating he was prepared and willing to go anywhere to address legislators, military and VA leadership to urge them to make HBOT healing therapy available to the estimated more than 320,000 warriors suffering from TBIs since September 11, 2001.
"Doctor, we are very proud of you and what you so generously do," said Department of Florida Commandant Backes. "Our Florida Marines and F.M.F. Corpsmen look forward to helping you with your quest to see this therapy broadly provided one day soon so that the thousands of needy wounded can be effectively helped. What you are doing is miraculous, sir."
If you would like more information on Dr. Spiegel's practice or the Healing Heroes Network, please visit their web site at www.healingheroes.org or call the main office in Palm Harbor, FL, at 877-470-HERO (4376). For information on the Marine Corps League, membership and Detachments, please visit their web site at www.mcleague.com.