Author Archives: CKempf

A New Year

As 2021 begin, I’m hearing from people worn out by the uncertainty of 2020. In this early days of this new year, we have vaccines being given, a new administration in Washington, and outreach beginning for virtual conferences and meetings.

I look back at my own year more in emails than actual conversations to see the things I worked on. Part of that is organizing my brain trauma work by not just notes and efforts, but by the actual things in place.

On March 16. I’ll be speaking at Amy Zellmer’s virtual conference:

I’m looking forward to that. When I first started speaking, before the 2012 PTSD event, I talked about isolation being hard for any kind of disability. And the Covid distancing and lockdowns have brought that for many survivors, family members and caregivers. When I do my daily walk, I pass a neighbor’s house. And every day a caregiver steps outside to wave at me. We don’t know each other, my the situation in that house, nor her my history, but we are both people, contact, life.

I also continue my work with NASHIA, this next year I’m working on public policy and the State of the State conference planning.

There is hope in these days, until next time…

October, leaves and thoughts

Good morning, it is an October Monday, I have coffee and hear the streets getting busy. October is the month my acquired brain injury occurred and changed my life, and those of people around me, forever. The darker, quiet mornings bring recall, sometimes wanted, sometimes not.

We just began a new federal fiscal year, and I’ve had many conversations about the future of pre-existing conditions in health care insurance. With the elections looming, it is a concern for many. The remembering my own event, as usual, ends up with me making a list of things to do, which is my way of dealing with what I can’t change.

I’ll continue my legislative work at the street level, working on the law and bill I’ve contributed to, as well looking at new efforts that need support. A goal of mine will be learning about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work on laws that protect and ensure resources for individuals. Being prepared helps me meet change the best I can.

The best you can is a great marker, because many survivors of brain injury and PTSD have a longer effort to accomplish things. Be okay with that. Other people can’t see your journey. Maybe more clearly said, trying is as important as accomplishing. Give yourself credit for that, and then keep building on that. As I will.

Summer wrap-up and surviving Covid-19

Hi, I haven’t posted since May, but I have been busy with brain injury work. As I’ve found my stride in remote efforts, the brain trauma tasks have continued with some months’ long work that is now wrapping up.

I’ve increased my participation with National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA), joining to maintain connection with the brain trauma community, as I have shifted toward policy work rather than speaking. After all, the experience of brain injury doesn’t go away, does it? In fact, learning to cope in the separate existence is much like the first experience I had, of resting at home, relearning many skills and looking for a way to rejoin the world with my new set of abilities and adjustments.

I’ve been contributing to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Advisory and Leadership Group (TAL) and the Human Services Research Institute this year. A further step was being asked to help rewrite a full participation guide, to bring current how to invite and encourage full participation at events and opportunities for individuals with brain injury, their support groups and caregivers. It was good to really dig in and read the various changes and updates in the language, funding and services available and update them. A new challenge for me was clarity in writing. On this go-round we are working independently and then joining our comments to look at the overall cohesiveness and needs.

I also was asked to recap the process and history of how Texas law 1338, 84 (R), Naishtat, became law, as I had prepared and presented to legislators in the Texas law and federal introduced bill. This law passed to protect individuals with brain injury through training on recognition and constructive response for law enforcement, first responders and other parties. HB 1338 was passed in 2015 and this year has been introduced as H.R. 6008 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act by Representative Bill Pascrell (D), 9th Congressional District, New Jersey.

Since I spoke on the Congressional Briefing Panel on Brain Injury Awareness Day, March 4, I’ve had several new states, groups and individuals become interested in this work: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Minnesota; the U.S. Senate, a strategy firm, and additional Representatives.

In June of this year I got the first notice of interest of HB 1338 attached to conversations about police brutality. The tagline I had as I worked to inform the state of Texas, and then in Washington, DC, was “to be different is not to be guilty.” My background is the difference of disability but the fact is there are other differences that my own one night do touch.

So circumstance may bring me full circle, to sharing again why “to be different is not to be guilty” and help toward all of us learning together a positive way to move forward.

I’m also a writer, and had a new book come out this summer, my website for that is I write under my given name and you’ll find bit of my brain injury work and experience there, and some of how I write my characters through difficulties, here. As a number of people are looking for and reading about my work, you can reach me through either place.

We lost a strong brain injury advocate this year. I knew and worked with Bill Roof on brain injury matters in Texas on the Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council. In 2016, he suggested a trip for me outside of Texas about HB 1338. On this trip, I went to share the new Texas law with groups in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. The reception we got was very supportive and I started my national work toward the bill Representative Pascrell introduced on February 27 of this year.

Bill was a staunch advocate, a good friend and example of the grassroots work that is the heart of brain injury advocacy and accomplishments.

I miss him.

One of the first things I did that began my learning how to live with a brain injury, was to fill out postcard requests to neighbors to contribute to a nonprofit organization, the March of Dimes. I addressed 10 cards, put stamps on them and walked to the corner mailbox to mail them. And walked home. That was one of the first times I didn’t get lost outside my own front door.

Representative Don Bacon (R), 2nd Congressional District, Nebraska, wrote me a note about speaking on March 4, saying how much work we’ve done, and how much there still is to do. That note is on my refrigerator door so I see it every day. There is much still to do.

May 2, Next Steps

Yesterday, May 1, was my first day without having to be at home, my quarantine began March 7. I stayed home, the limited movement allowed I have replaced with the new order and wait for delivery, life at a distance.

I had already found a way to resume my brain injury work, I joined NASHIA, the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators so I would have a connection to all the states and people who serve in this arena and are survivors of brain trauma, or PTSD. The law I took to Washington, is now introduced on the national level, my words are now for all the country, all the survivors.

I said yes to being on a new board, pleased to continue working on state and federal brain trauma relationships, especially, because that’s how I got this law to Washington, by reading and speaking as my path unwound, one step at a time.

I have a plastic bag of business cards to respond to, people who heard me speak and introduced themselves on March 4. There is still work to do, still brain trauma to learn about and people to reach out to. Despite Covid-19, life is still happening, and even though I’m doing it from home, I need to keep this work going. I will say I have lots to learn about Zoom. But we’re here, and I’m increasing my work again, from a distance of safety and wellness, but putting it out there again.

Yesterday, May 1, I was on a business call to Wales and found out that my colleague’s son is a brain trauma survivor whose vision has been compromised by that. I know two people well who had similar symptom from their own experience. All three brain injuries came from concussion. I’ll now be looking to them to see what they can tell me about their own recoveries, and then see if we can find a resource for him to use in the UK.

Then I explained brain trauma funding in Texas.

There is always more to do, not stopping is the answer. To more than one thing.

Stay well, comment here, or email me at We’re continuing on.

March 7, Home

March 7, Home

I flew home on March 5, my part of the Congressional Briefing complete, my purse full of cards from attendees at the reception that completed the Brain Injury Day on the Hill. I landed at 10:30 and went home, ready for spring and many things I had waiting for the return from this trip, the completion of this effort.

On March 7, 36 hours at home, I rose, made coffee and turned on the morning news. The topic was that there were identified cases of Covid-19 in Washington, DC. Where I had been with many people. I listened to the rules, immediately self-quarantined, and settled in, confused, unprepared, listening to the briefings which were of concern but not at a major level.

My self-quarantine ended two weeks later. I had a few days of errands and catching up, then our shelter in place order was put into place. And I was at home again. I began figuring out the isolation, ordering items no one had, masks, food, toilet paper. Because I’m a brain trauma survivor I’m in the higher risk category. My connection to the world became news briefings and looking out my windows. It was surreal, it is spring, beautiful, sunny and cool. And I stayed inside.

And so I stayed until our shelter in place ran out on April 30. Today is May 1, the next phase is beginning. It is still spring, but the early burst of bluebonnets is gone, and I’m still inside. I do have masks now and will begin a limited life, like everyone else, figuring it out as I go along.

March 5, Congressional Briefing is successful!

The Congressional Briefing was so full we had standing room only. Representative Pascrell and Bacon both speaking to the widespread need for brain injury and trauma research and progress.

Representative Pascrell opened the briefing stating there was an ongoing need for research in brain injury treatment and knowledge. He led that into my background of being misidentified by law enforcement in 2012 that had led to Texas HB law 1338 in 2015. And now was the HR 6008 that was filed on February 27, 2020 to make this law federal:

Representative Bill Pascrell opening the March 4, 2020 Congressional Briefing on Brain Injury Day on the Hill with Cheryl Kempf’s story, Texas law, and HR 6008, introduced on February 27, 2020.

I followed that up speaking about shepherding the misidentification of my brain injury into the Texas law passed in 2015. That effort led to my speaking on this topic in an ever growing circle in several state and national conferences. That became my work on Capitol Hill every year, and resulting in HR 6008, sponsored by Representatives Pascrell and Bacon and filed on February 27, 2020.

Cheryl Kempf’s Congressional Briefing on HR 6008, Training for Law Enforcement and First Responder Recognition on Brain Injury and PTSD identification and responses.

The response was very positive, the overflow crowd very enthusiastic, with a partial standing ovation and many questions.

The evening reception was well attended, and Representative Pascrell recognized me in a callout moment or the tenacity of my work and being the catalyst for laws on both state and federal levels. We now have legislation existing or proposed to protect brain injury and PTSD survivors in every state.

I am the anyone and everyone that this could, and has, happened to. What we wish is for my bad night and many steps as the catalyst for these laws to help others.

It has been lonely at times on this journey, but I have not been alone. I do know the sense of isolation is daunting. Don’t give up! Please join us keep this education and advocacy moving forward. Thank you!

Thank you.

March 4, Brain Injury Awareness Day on the Hill

I’ll give my Congressional Briefing today from 2:30 – 4:00 in the Gold Room of the Rayburn Building. I’m speaking about HR 6008, introduced on February 27, and Texas HB 1338, requiring training in brain injury and PTSD recognition and constructive response for law enforcement, first responders and others.

Here is my contact information, all in one place.

Cheryl Kempf, Brain Injury and PTSD Survivor,, 512-585-4559,

Thank you to everyone I spoke with yesterday and on this journey so far. Please get in touch if we can help. Thank you.

An Invitation to be a Panelist on March 4, Brain Injury Awareness Day on the Hill

Today I received my official invitation from Representatives Bill Pascrell and Don Bacon to be a panelist at the Congressional Briefing on March 4, Brain Injury Awareness Day on the Hill.

I accepted and am honored that my perspective and experience, both in surviving and working to speak about the need to educate on how to recognize brain injury and PTSD. Each individual and survival are unique.

The common theme of these experiences is to know what they are so that each can be responded to constructively; each person helped because responders have been taught how.

Fall 2019

Today, as fall comes, I got the good news from Representative Pascrell’s office that the bill has language being drafted! I go for a walk in our bit of Texas fall and listen to the leaves skitter along the street. I’m thinking of the next level being reached and realized, how as this bill moves forward how many people will be protected with its passage, everywhere, the same places brain injury and PTSD can be found, everywhere. How useful and preventive that this can be in the recognition and response to these situations. Just like you can’t see brain trauma or PTSD, no one I say hi to today, knows from seeing me what today’s email means. What matters is that a difference is being made, for what we are, not how we look. Or maybe that’s just my thinking, it seems very related. I crunch a few leaves as I step, glad for progress made.

May 7, 2019

Today I spoke at the Brain Injury Association of Virginia’s annual conference. My session was a late one so I spend the day meeting speakers, vendors, and most importantly, the attendees. I ate with survivors and their family members. The real side of my work is talking about this law from the point of what I experienced and how I am trying to bridge the gap between laws and lives, so that that legislation provides real help for brain injury and PTSD survivors. My words come from an experience they can identify with, or may know someone who has also had misunderstanding and misidentification come from not knowing how these conditions may present and what to do about them.

The attendance was good and the reviews highly positive. I flew home feeling I had listened and spoken to individuals on all levels, individuals to lawmakers, on this topic. There is work still to do, advocating, talking and staying in touch as we move this legislative possibility closer to a federal level.

Washington, May 6, 2019

This is my 2019 trip to Washington DC, this year is a dual purpose trip, to meet with the representatives to check on how the bill to protect survivors of brain trauma and PTSD is faring.

And tomorrow I will speak at the Brain Injury Association of Virginia’s annual conference on both my recovery and my work on this bill growing from the 2015 Texas law, HB 1338, to the national law I’m hoping it to become.

On this trip I met and settled into a detailed conversation with Representative Pascrell’s office after meeting with Representative Hurd’s and John Carter’s office. In Rep. Pascrell’s office we went over the current status of the bill. We had a good meeting, so long I almost missed my train back to Richmond!

Those are the kind of meetings to have. This bill had been studied for language and groups to be included in its intent. Because brain trauma and PTSD survivors are all across our country, it is important that educating and understanding about that are spread that far, too.

Washington D.C.

In June 2017 I went to Washington, to meet with Congressman Will Hurd’s office about HB 1338 and its potential as a national law. I also meet with Congressman Bill Pascrell’s staff, important because of their work with the committee on brain trauma for Congress. Both offices were supportive and I left these meetings with a list of details to provide to help with these efforts. I also attended the Brain Injury Association of America’s Brain Injury Awareness Day and visited the Texas Senators to leave a one-page handout and a comment on this proposed bill with their staff.

In late July, Congressman Hurd’s office contacted me to say the bill was being drafted and the potential looked good.

I attended his DC to DQ tour through District 23 in the fall, choosing to attend his stop in Castroville, where family lives, too.

The bill is now in the hands of the House Judiciary Committee where the language is being reviewed. We are hoping for it to become a national law in these next months of 2018 and will be back in Washington this March to work again with these offices and attend another Brain Injury Day on the Hill.

And to see the cherry blossoms!


Tennessee Spring

March 2017, Tennessee was great. I spoke for one and a half hours and then mingled with the attendees for the rest of the day. My talk was followed by a Nashville police officer who upheld that good law enforcement finds value in such training.

We held the event in the meeting room of a local police station, free for use in Nashville to nonprofits. The event is a day with lunch so that attendees have an accessible and effective day. It was a moving event to connect with so many people who are interested in the experience my brain trauma has given me.

My own family has ties to the Nashville area and I enjoyed the city, seeing it through stories I have heard.




On Friday, March 10, I will be the keynote speaker for the 28th Annual Brain Trauma Conference in Nashville, building on the speaking I did last September for NASHIA. I will talk about HB 1338 and my journey is educating about that Texas law and the need for it. I also will speak about living with brain trauma and how my life changed because of it and since my initial event. I am looking forward to the opportunity to share with individuals who work and use these resources. Nashville sounds wonderful!