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Sam Miller Navy Headshot

BIS Helps US Veteran Sam Miller Navigate Invisible Disabilities Caused by a Stroke

Sam Miller is a United States Navy Veteran who served in the Gulf War and the Middle East from 1988 to 1992. For nearly 20 years following, Sam worked as a web developer for private companies, associations, nonprofits and government agencies. He enjoyed ballroom dancing, traveling, exploring the outdoors and was a gym enthusiast. At 50, Sam suffered a stroke that caused damage to his brain that resulted in a blind spot in his upper left quadrant of the visual field in both eyes. He likes to describe it as, “the software was damaged but the hardware still worked.” 

Ten months after his stroke, he adjusted to his blindspot and began navigating web development. However, two cataract surgeries set him back and exacerbated his sight symptoms, damaging what he refers to both “the software and the hardware.”

Sam Miller Navy Headshot

Without family nearby for support, he reached out to several organizations for help. His search led to a local Veterans Association chapter, which referred him to Brain Injury Services (BIS). He worked with a few case managers, and most recenlty he’s been working with Raisa Velez, Veteran Case Manager, who has been absolutely terrific and supportive in always trying to find resources to help him with his goals.

Sam has “invisible” disabilities that are not visually obvious, including a 25 percent loss of eyesight, sensitivity to light, and chronic fatigue. With the help of Raisa, Sam has developed a daily routine that allows him to feel productive throughout the day and gives him a chance to catch a break when the fatigue settles in. BIS also put him in touch with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services and is exploring a vocational rehab program. Still passionate about web development, Sam keeps up with the web technology and has built mock websites to keep up the practice. He created a website ( to market his next big goal of becoming a web development consultant for small businesses or nonprofits. He believes a consultant business model would allow him to earn a modest income while working with clients who want an experienced web developer and understand the challenges of his disabilities and need for flexible hours and production timelines. 

He says that even though it’s been a rough road it gets better. He would like to share with other people with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), particularly stroke survivors, that although it might seem hopeless at first it gets better and the healing never stops.  “I thought it was game over and I would never program again and now I’m up and energized working two hours a morning before I move on to errands for the day.  I never thought I would program again and was so distraught.” He encourages others with a TBI to seek out support and never stop trying.  He says, “We can’t do what we used to, so we have to create the new person by finding something you used to do that you still can and something new that interests you.”  It’s the combination of holding onto a piece of the old you and creating a new part I think that helps the healing process. 

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