My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do?

Story by Brunella Costagliola and Dr. Jerid Fisher

It was a very cold February in Minot, North Dakota and I was trying my best to put a positive spin on the -50 degrees Fahrenheit weather for my two children, who kept asking me why they couldn’t go play outside. This was definitely the coldest winter I had ever experienced. I was born and raised in Naples, southern Italy, where people believe that 60 degrees Fahrenheit in December equals heavy coat, gloves, woolen scarf, and a whole lot of hand gesturing that is meant to highlight the desperately cold situation.

How did I go from Italy to North Dakota? You’ve guessed it: I married into the American military. I met my husband ten years ago, while he was stationed in Naples, and we have travelled the world together ever since. Fast-forward quite a few TDYs, PCSs, lots of military-related ups and downs, two children, and you find us in Minot, by the windowpane, staring at all that snow. Once I set up a drawing station for my children, who were about to create yet another masterpiece to hang on the fridge, I received an e-mail that would quickly turn out to be one of the best projects I have ever taken part in.

As a military spouse, I have always tried my hardest to help and support the military community at any base my husband has ever been stationed at. Whether it was in the form of care packages sent to adopted troops stationed in the Middle East, a traditional Italian tiramisu made for a fellow military spouse whose partner had just been deployed, a lasagna big enough to feed a whole squadron, or a base-wide event planned to raise awareness on several issues that affect our military members, I have always strived to come up with ways to show my respect and appreciation for what our wonderful military members, and the people beside them who cheer them on, do for all of us every single day.

When Dr. Jerid Fisher contacted me with his splendid idea of writing a children’s book for wounded warrior families, I was honored to offer my writing skills to create something that, as it turns out, is so much bigger than us. Through the years, I have heard and witnessed first-hand what it means for our military children to not only have a parent deployed, but also have that same parent come back home and be, somehow, a different person. It is hard for our children to understand why Mom or Dad still look the same, yet they are actually no longer the same person they were before deploying. What happened? And most importantly, how can we help them cope with changes that brain injury inexorably carries with it?

That’s why we created My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do? As we set out on this amazing journey, we were able to secure the help of Valerio Mazzoli, a Disney illustrator who has always made every possible effort to help children faced with a difficult situation. I couldn’t imagine a better partner to help me bring my characters to life. The three of us worked tirelessly side-by-side to create this precious book, which is truly a product of all the love, respect, and esteem we feel towards all wounded warrior families. Our hope is that this book will encourage all military spouses  as they introduce the concept of brain injuries, how they affect our military Moms and Dads, and what we can do to help and support them.

The National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation (NANF), representing neuropsychologists worldwide and with the mission of promoting brain health, as well as knowledge about brain injuries, underwrote this important project. We hope that military parents and their children coping with a brain injury will see the field of neuropsychology as a resource for knowledge, understanding and compassion. Please view our work at

Brunella Costagliola is a best-selling Editor and Writer. When she is not trying to save the world by polishing a manuscript and turning it into a masterpiece, she is spending time with her two precious, highly-spirited children, and supporting her Air Force husband. You can reach her on Facebook @bestsellingeditorandwriter or on her website:


Thank you, Dr. Jerid Fisher!

Dr. Jerid Fisher & The National Academy of Neuropsychology Foundation donated copies of My Dad Got Hurt. What Can I Do? to Blue Star Families, which were distributed in select locations. We would like to thank Dr. Fisher for being a Good Neighbor to our military families!

What is a Blue Star Families Good Neighbor?

A Good Neighbor is an extraordinary civilian that has made a difference in the life of a military family member. At Blue Star Families, we believe that no good deed is too small, and each year we recognize and appreciate these individuals for going above and beyond for our military families.

Do you know a Good neighbor? Nominate them for our Annual Blue Star Neighbors award HERE.