Beverly Francisco- James, retired US Veteran, is a quiet hero. Born in the Four Corners area, Francisco-James joined the Navy, served for nearly fifteen years and did see the world…Japan, Korea, Pensacola, Kuwait. After retirement from the Navy, Beverly returned to NM to be close to her Navajo roots; a retirement that unfortunately didn’t look like what she planned.
As a result of an arthritis medication prescribed while she was in the service, she suffered a severe brain injury. It deteriorated a blood vessel in her brain, ultimately destroying her thymus gland; it processes a type of white blood cell that governs cellular immunity which means it helps cells recognize and destroy invading bacteria, virus, and abnormal cell growth such as cancer, and foreign tissue. As a result of the damage, Beverly lost sight in her left eye. She is partially paralyzed on the left side (and she startles easily from this deficit). She has lost short term memory and suffers from some hearing loss and frequent exhaustion. So why is she a hero?
“My brain damage is a blessing…God’s way of opening a door so I can help people,” Francisco-James says.
She spends much of her time now working with veterans from current conflicts and their families, talking about brain injury. She helps people understand the symptoms, teaches them what to expect and ways to react. Beverly is on the board of the Brain Injury Association of New Mexico where she is also Volunteer Coordinator. A committed advocate, she has spoken and testified about brain injuries to government health agencies in Washington, DC and at national conferences.
Beverly attended Client Placement Training in April to learn how to work with Tilley, a lab/golden cross who has already helped enormously with balance, awareness of surroundings, comfort and full- time companionship. The two gals are incredibly sweet, funny and hard working characters.
Before the blinding headache that changed her life, Beverly was a self-described super “type A” personality. Everything was organized, labeled; she juggled many projects, and was an active runner. Today she’s learned to slow down some, walk carefully, put her health first and let the small stuff go. But to everyone at ADW and the veterans’ lives that she touches, Beverly Francisco-James still rates a huge A plus.