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Disabled Veteran In Crisis and Need of Help

PARSIPPANY — Lake Parsippany resident Ray Schmaler is a Vietnam Vet in significant need of help.

His family has been fighting for over eight months to help ease his suffering from neurological issues, and they have exhausted every option they can through western medicine. At this time, Ray still does not have a diagnosis despite having visited with five neurologists, multiple visits to his cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, etc.

On top of his neurological condition, which is creating significant physical, mental, and cognitive issues, he has suffered tremendously with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, re-living and re-enacting his year-long service as a paratrooper in the infantry of Vietnam.

The family is at a point of desperation. They have run out of traditional options to help their father/husband. They are turning to holistic modalities where they have found hope in providing relief and treatment for Ray. However, this treatment is not covered by insurance and is expensive. Ray had his first holistic treatment of Ozone Therapy on December 28th, 2022, and the family already sees signs of hope. Aside from treatment alone, the family has had to modify Ray’s home to make it more handicap accessible by installing a lift chair and modifying the bathroom. To continue, they can use financial help.
Ray served our country. He is a family man, a dear friend to many, and an all-around great person. He has always been the protector, someone who is ready and willing to jump in to help anyone in need. Now, he is in need of our help.
Please consider donating to Ray so that he may continue to receive holistic treatment for a chance to save his life. If you cannot donate, please share this story so we can help a wonderful family in need.
For anyone curious about medical Ray’s journey, here is a more detailed version of his story:
Ray is currently 73 years old and, God-willing will turn 74 in just a few weeks. When he came home from the Army at just 20 years old, he married his wife Nancy, who he has been married to for 47 years. They have two daughters, Jennifer and Suzanne. Ray began his painting and wallpapering service to support his family, with little to no resources to help with the aftermath of his service to our country. He was still working full-time at 73 years old until he became sick at the end of 2021/beginning of 2022.
His medical story: In December/January of 2021/22, Ray became ill with Covid. He was sick for about 3 weeks but never required hospitalization. He went back to work, but he never fully recovered. Ray was never a complainer when it came to being sick, but he complained about brain fog, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue when dealing with Covid. He continued to work from January-March until his dizziness worsened. This continued until June.
On Father’s Day, Ray was walking across the yard, but he was so off-balance that he looked like he was intoxicated, although he did not drink even a sip of alcohol. Ray’s wife knew something was wrong, and that’s when the journey of neurologist after neurologist began. One neurologist said he had a stroke, another said he did not, and another said he had three. After multiple MRIs, CT scans, and blood panels.
Meanwhile, as Ray’s body began to weaken, so did his mind. As a result, he began to “sleepwalk” and act out scenes from his experience in Vietnam. He would use his walker like a machine gun and yell at his wife and daughters to “get down” as if they were all under attack and in the army with him. From August-present, Ray continues to relive his experience in Vietnam every time he sleeps; therefore, his sleep is not restful as he constantly moves, talks, and moves as if he is back in the army. His PTSD has become so intense that he is constantly in his eighteen-year-old mind even when awake.
In November, Ray was “unofficially diagnosed” with a 1 in a million condition called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or “mad cow.” The doctor suspected this disease had been dormant in Ray’s brain since his time in Vietnam. The theory is that Ray may have eaten contaminated meat in Vietnam, as options were limited and food was not regulated, and that the disease has been living dormant in Ray’s brain, with Covid activating the illness. This was a devastating diagnosis to receive as CJD is a terminal illness that typically progresses within 8 months from the onset of symptoms until death. The doctor also suggested that instead of Ray having CJD, he could have encephalitis, an autoimmune infection/inflammation of the brain resulting from a virus.
The family was quickly referred to NYU Langone, where they were told that CJD was likely not the correct diagnosis. Instead, Ray likely would be diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia or encephalitis. This was somewhat “better” news, but still heartbreaking.
After undergoing another MRI, more bloodwork, and even more tests, the results came back as inconclusive, and the family was told once again that Ray either had CJD or encephalitis. This means they are looking at either a terminal diagnosis or one potentially treatable.
The recommendation is for Ray to have a spinal tap to see if he has autoimmune encephalitis. This is treatable; however, a diagnosis is required even to consider treatment. The only way to diagnose is through a spinal tap. Unfortunately, Ray can not have a spinal tap as his heart condition forbids him from taking certain medications to complete the spinal tap.
Meanwhile, the family is desperate for answers and, more importantly, to help Ray. They are turning to holistic medicine, where they have some hope of help. The holistic approach is called Ozone therapy which is a process where blood is removed from the body, treated with oxygen, and returned to the body. This treatment removes toxins from the blood while increasing antioxidants and immunity to fight infection and inflammation in the body.
If you have read the rest of this story, thank you for caring about Ray and his family. Please consider donating. No amount is too small. Please share this story for others to donate.
Click here to donate.
Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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