MANCHESTER, NH – More than 10,000 online votes were registered, and thanks to all of you who participated in the First-Pitch Nurse Hero Contest, Manchester VA nurse Jeffrey Ballard will throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park on Tuesday, May 15.
Ballard has been a member of the Army National Guard for nearly 20 years. Just a few months after getting married in 2009, he deployed to Afghanistan. He served as an Infantry Medic and was injured while serving in combat.
After several surgeries and months of physical therapy, Ballard was able to return to bedside nursing after being home for 14 months. He had returned to the Emergency Department where he had always worked before deployment. Because of Ballard’s emotional injuries and PTSD, returning to the Emergency Department almost destroyed him. Every day was a constant trigger for his PTSD and he ended up leaving the ED after less than a year.
He was nominated by his wife who, at the time, clearly saw the pain he was in – both physically and mentally. Ballard was lost and his wife felt helpless. She could only offer him support and understanding.
What saved him and made him an amazing nurse again was beginning work as a nurse at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Ballard has been with the VA for nearly five years now and he has flourished there. While all nurses are compassionate and go above and beyond, his wife says that Jeff and his dedication to his patients and fellow nurses is one of a kind.
Ballard now works in a case management type role and serves in a program that helps elderly Veteran maintain their independence. These are vulnerable Veterans that could end up in Nursing Homes without nurses like Ballard.