Brain-injured GIs Could Number 360,000. While Billions Go to Wall Street, Only $242 Million Goes to Treat Brain-injured Soldiers

March 24th, 2009 - by admin

Associated Press, & Mary MacElveen – 2009-03-24 22:35:14

Brain-injured GIs Could Number 360,000
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (March 5, 2009) — The number of US troops who have suffered wartime brain injuries may be as high as 360,000 and could cast more attention on such injuries among civilians, Defense Department doctors said Wednesday.

The estimate of the number injured — the vast majority of them suffering concussions — represents 20 percent of the roughly 1.8 million men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where blast injuries are common from roadside bombs and other explosives, the doctors said.

The estimate came in a Pentagon news conference on activities planned this month to bring attention to brain injuries. The doctors said the number could be as low as 180,000, based on estimates that between 10 percent and 20 percent of troops might have received such injuries.

The previous high estimate offered publicly was 320,000 in a study released a year ago by the private Rand Corp. It was based on about 1.6 million who had done tours of duty in the wars from late 2001.

Though so-called “traumatic” brain injury can range from a mild form such as concussions to severe forms with penetrating head wounds, officials said the majority of injuries among troops are the mild form.

The overwhelming majority heal — and heal without treatment — but an estimated 45,000 to 90,000 troops have suffered more severe and lasting symptoms, said Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, the head of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

The Army alone spent $242 million last year for staff, facilities and programs to serve troops with brain injuries, said Lt. Col. Lynne M. Lowe of the Army surgeon general’s office.

Sutton said that, as in previous wars, the research and other work being done by the military will eventually benefit the civilian world. Whether the injuries occur while people ride bicycles, play football, skateboard or ski, “we know that this is an issue across the country,” she said.

“In the past … it was difficult to get this on the radar screen,” said Dr. James Kelly, director of the National Intrepid Center for brain injuries and psychological health. “Brain injury was not recognized as a problem … of any consequence and was, especially in the sports community, often dismissed or trivialized.”

“I think that now you’re seeing it being taken very seriously,” Kelly said. “The wartime experience has been a big part of that.”

© Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Only $242 Million to Treat Soldiers with Brain Injuries…Yet Billions to Wall Street
Commentary by Mary MacElveen

(March 20, 2009) — Did you ever read a quote that was prophetic in tone as it relates to someone’s death in particular actress Natasha Richardson? I do not know why I was saving this one particular article from, Brain-injured GIs Could Number 360,000, but I did and maybe it was to speak out to you, my reader at this given time.

In this one article, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton stated, “the research and other work being done by the military will eventually benefit the civilian world. Whether the injuries occur while people ride bicycles, play football, skateboard or ski, “we know that this is an issue across the country,” Yes, it is an issue and lesson to those who partake in those sports and that is the care of their heads so they do not suffer brain damage or worse death due to head blows.

Sadly, in war-time medical advances can be made for the rest of civilization…Still the cost to all of us is something we cannot put a price tag on as soldiers come home wounded not only through brain trauma, but the loss of limbs as well as the burns they often suffer through. Even as they are being treated by doctors here at home, they are indeed still serving we the people.

Long before helmets were required by law to be worn by children who biked, at the age of six, I flew over the handlebars and incurred an injury to the head. At that time it took 28 stitches to close the wound and a lasting scar is on my forehead. Little did the doctors at that time realize the brain injury I incurred which led to my epilepsy.

Through a series of MRIs in the 90s, it was clear to the neurologist treating me, I had a brain lesion from that accident suffered as a child. That lesion will never go away and I will be on two anti-seizure medications for the rest of my life. But, the good news is that I am alive and able to write about it.

Within the article I read coming from, it was this statement coming from, Dr. James Kelly, director of the National Intrepid Center, which led me to sit up and take notice: “Brain injury was not recognized as a problem … of any consequence and was, especially in the sports community, often dismissed or trivialized.”

Well, I would suggest to the sports community and the community at large to start paying attention to head injuries especially after the death of Natasha Richardson.

Given the high figure of 360,000 to a low one of 180,000, these soldiers serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan suffered these injuries due to road side blasts. While some only minor which are concussions, some are more severe such as penetrating head wounds.

As I read this passage I became somewhat enraged, “The Army alone spent $242 million last year for staff, facilities and programs to serve troops with brain injuries, said Lt. Col. Lynne M. Lowe of the Army surgeon general’s office.” Excuse me as I throw a fit based upon how much we have given Wall Street and oh yes, those bonuses to AIG executives plus other nefarious corporations.

Here we have men and women going into harms way to serve our country, keep us safe and fight them terrorists and this is the sum they get to treat brain injuries? This is not good enough and they deserve better coming from those in Washington.

I want to thoroughly embarrass those Wall Street executives who think they deserve these bonuses by pointing out this measly sum spent on our soldiers who incur brain injuries. Who exactly do you think you are?

This is a time where I wish I had my own “Special Comments” to present as Keith Olbermann so eloquently blasts those in need of it. I would lay right into these greedy Wall Street executives and to those in Washington to up the amount spent on understanding how brain injuries affect our soldiers as well as the rest of us. If I hear one person defend these miscreants of Wall Street, all I will say is that our soldiers deserve more. We as a society deserve more.

I do suspect that some of our soldiers have died from brain bleeds like Natasha Richardson and they too are deserving of our support, our voices and our prayers. The families they leave behind are just as special as the family members she left behind. As Broadway dimmed its lights in honor of her last night, many lights should be dimmed in respect and honor to our troops.

Our soldiers deserve a champion of their cause as they suffer these brain injuries, because their lives are as precious. To those medical experts who have come on television to explain Ms. Richardson’s death, please do the same in honor of our injured troops. They need your voices, and more importantly, your support.

Mary MacElveen writes a blog and has been published by,, and and has appeared on CNN. She has done numerous web broadcasts for, and

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Copyrighted material. Reposted on EAW by permission of the author. Should you wish to use any portion of this column, please email the author.

Comments on the Associated Press Article
Mar 5, 2009 8:00:08 AM

As one who has had TBI I think it always has been in the back ground of every war. Keep the faith time will help. Maybe this time a little extra help will make things better faster.
Semper Fi

Mar 5, 2009 8:19:02 AM

Honkybob 3-5-009
Bless they’re hearts
We love you
the band

Mar 5, 2009 8:54:38 AM

Whoa Nellie!! What is going on — I would think that the helmut would be helpful in avoiding this type injury — maybe they ought to get with the NFL and see what actions they are taking with there helmuts to prevent concussions among their players. Twenty percent sounds awfully high.

Mar 5, 2009 9:11:40 AM

This is strange to hear. When I arrived at Ft. Hood from Baghdad in December 2007 with the documentation showing I had multiple concussions from IED blasts, the SRP folks’ reply was “there’s nothing wrong with you”. Difficult to get around that and I still only got “It takes a while to recover” for treatment in the end.

Mar 5, 2009 9:26:27 AM

17866552, I hope you are doing better now. I’m relieved to see you can take a bigger hit than any of those weak NFL football players we see on TV! Comes to prove that you can have the biggest muscles in the world, but it still doesn’t make you strong.

Mar 5, 2009 10:03:31 AM

Is a new/better helmet needed?

Mar 5, 2009 10:12:03 AM

I’m a mom of a soldier who has had up to 25+ concussions resulting from IED’s, in 15 months, his last tour in Baghdad. This is a SERIOUS issue for any unbelievers out there… son is damaged, but all appearances says he’s great!

Diagnosing and treating such things is difficult at best under the very BEST of circumstances, but with the back-log of soldiers requesting treatment and the diagnostic protocols being shambles (IMHO) it’s nearly impossible to get appropriate care.

With ANY brain injury, an individual resorts to whatever personal tools they have handy to survive. This means that a soldier, in uniform, in familiar settings (i.e., anything military) is BOUND to respond to questioning of any kind, out of their first mental “tool box” (if you will). If those who were diagnosing these symptoms were able to see these soldiers out of uniform, on their “own” turf, trying to navigate through activities of daily living based on “outside” perspectives and not military disciplines, the outcomes of these diagnoses would be QUITE different. The whole system is an utter MESS.

So a soldier has a psyche profile, from which they determine that he/she needs TBI or PTSD counseling/treatment and within a few visits, is equipped with a PDA, GPS, and digital recorder. Yes these things are INCREDIBLY helpful and appreciated, but that does NOT MAKE A SOLDIER READY TO BE REDEPLOYED.

So the soldier becomes frightened of his/her injuries and decides it’s easier to face redeployment than deal with the reality of his/her condition and all of the realities of how bad they really are, if they’re discharged.
This just doesn’t seem right to THIS mom.

SgtBroomfield, sir, these brain injuries are different that anything that has been experienced in any previous war. That is not to lesson the injuries that have occurred in previous wars at all, please don’t misunderstand, but our soldiers are INJURED and disoriented and untreated and poorly or not at all diagnosed!

The general flippancy I’ve received goes along the lines of, “if he’s not missing a limb and he can function (even poorly) he’s okay enough to ignore for the sake of those more seriously wounded”.

To a DEGREE, I agree with this…but that does not warrant the lack of care for TBI.

Has anyone ever had a child who fell off a porch or got a good bang on his head when he/she was little? That child is pretty “simple” for some time until the brain heals! These injuries require time and rehabilitation. Injury and multiple RE-injury along with PTSD episodes only exacerbates and irritates existing symptoms making it even more difficult to “reach” the injured soldier.

And it is sad to think that so very few are really listening.

Mar 5, 2009 10:44:53 AM

Concusions are from different things. not just physical head trauma like the brain being banged from side to side. the percusion of blasts can cause a concusion. remember not being able to hear anything other than a ringing in your ears and feeling like you were quickly knumbed? even with no blood oozing out of your mouth ,nose or ears you can have one. i believe to many of those type of concusions can cause brain injuries in the TBI catigory. i believe this is the difference in the % we are reading about, beside the type that are intrusion injuries.

Mar 5, 2009 11:13:04 AM

I was injured in 2004 there really was not any treatment, but medican has progressed and Congress has alocated money in the last couple of years for treatment and studies.

Mar 5, 2009 11:39:32 AM

Mar 5, 2009 8:54:38 AM
Whoa Nellie!! What is going on — I would think that the helmut would be helpful in avoiding this type injury — maybe they ought to get with the NFL and see what actions they are taking with there helmuts to prevent concussions among their players. Twenty percent sounds awfully high.

Richard you are right 20% would be high if the concussions came from blunt trauma, but doctors are saying most concussions are the results of blast from noise and shock waves, no NFL helmet will stop this type of concussion.
shock wave concussion can be more traumatic then a blunt blow to the head.
shock waves find there way through the ear nose and mouth canal, and inter the cranial area that way, in turn can jar the brain to no end.

it’s like blowing a balloon at a high rate of speed tell it pops. when pressure inters the skull something has to give, most times it’s the brain.
am I a doctor (no) but as a paramedic for 20 years plus I have a very small understanding of these type of injuries.have seen it from explosions inside of coal mines.
So glad to see the military is taking this as something serious.

Mar 5, 2009 2:35:40 PM

Helmets are not designed to prevent concussion. I suffered similarly at the DMZ in May of 1967 with the Marine Corps on Operation Hickory. I was on the Sanctuary for about 10 days until the ringing stopped and headaches subsided. I have had migraines off and on since.

Mar 5, 2009 2:41:38 PM

Some of this should be taken with a grain of salt. TBI is definitely a problem and one that the DoD is spending a lot of resources to study. It should be noted, however, that the RAND study they refer to was poorly done and cannot be considered a reasonable estimate of the problem. I have not seen the research discussed in this article so I cannot address this right now, but I have done some work in this area and know that it can be really difficult to estimate the problem. Especially for mild TBIs where the person may not even realize they have a problem and don’t report it or suffer any lasting effects.

Mar 5, 2009 3:22:05 PM

i had a concussion in NAM from a blast that threw my helmet 10 ft away. i saw stars for hours. suffered headaches for 5 years. every once in a while it comes back. always feels like a migrain. it showed up during a scan after i injested a nuclear dye in 1983. had a full bone scan done then and they were able to pick this up. MRI’s and CT scans cannot pick this up. i was told this would resolve itself. this occurred 41 years ago.

not sure if they design anything to prevent blast trauma. there are many things that can reduce blunt trauma. blast trauma can kill if large enough and close enough. most cases it can knock one for a loop.
Semper Paratus

Mar 5, 2009 3:42:33 PM

Makes me glad that the (mean old) democrats shamed the republicans into restoring the funding they tried to cut from the Army’s Brain Damage Research project.

Mar 5, 2009 5:01:25 PM

TBI is like PTSD as far as Veterans getting treatment for it unfortunately for many it’s just occasional memory loss. So many Veterans don’t seek out the help they need. In Michigan I’m proud to say we have about 70% of the USA’s TBI hospital’s and clinic’s. Just an example I worked with a Veteran that had TBI and couldn’t hold down a job we found him a job in a deli after a couple of weeks they let him go because he couldn’t remember what went into the different sandwiches. If you have any doubt whether you’re suffering from TBI go to a VA Hospital and get checked out immediately. This is very serious and will not heal itself. God Bless you all and all of our Troops in harms way!

Mar 5, 2009 5:01:42 PM

OK, but what about us from Vietnam, remember the baby killing war. We got no parades, they showed our shipmate flag draped. We have head injuries too. But that’s ours to deal with like the names and being spat upon.
So I can’t remember names but I can tell you the dimensions of an item by just looking at it. Ya, that door is 28″ wide or is 36″ wide, my wheelchair will fit through. What was your name again ?

Mar 5, 2009 9:36:46 PM

Hey brother, tell me exactly where you were at, who were you with and what you did and lets compare some real actual notes!

DOC 1 Mahmudiyah 2005-06

Mar 5, 2009 9:57:12 PM

20% sounds low to me considering the number of IED’s in the war. I spend time and visit w/wounded Soldiers that have TBI, it certainly has been an educational experience for me. Being w/them is a delight and a treasure. I simply love them.

Some can no longer think in terms of numbers/math, some have no comprehension of time, short term memory is frustrating as the day is long, they have to relearn how to do basic things like cook, read, speak, eat in a restaurant, know where they live. It’s a challenge starting all over again to learn how to take care of yourself all the while externally looking physically capable. It’s like trying to re-program yourself to think. Hidden disabilities are far harder to cope and deal with than the external ones.

Watching their faces when their headaches go from bad to worse is very painful to witness, headaches that never go away, just some hours not so bad. Their brains have literally been rattled. One does not have to bleed or have other physical injuries for your brain to be injured. Many of them have spent a year or more in the hospital recovering from being blown up, most of them have been in multiple blasts and it was the last blast that landed them in the hospital.

What always leaves me in awe is their spirit, strength, and humor. They never give up. One minute they are making me cry because I see the love and support they have for each other and the next they have me LMAO because they can make fun of themselves and of each other.

These concussions can be mild or very serious, and I agree w/the Soldier’s mom, it is SAD that so few are listening or understand this condition. I am guessing there are lots of Soldiers out there w/undiagnosed TBI.

Mar 5, 2009 10:17:34 PM

1.) Memory issues
2.) Tinnitus
3.) Inability to focus or concentrate for longer
periods of time + 10 minutes.
4.) Irritability
5.) Eyesight/reading issues
6.) Lack of interest in hobbies
7.) Restlessness
8.) Recurring headaches

Mar 5, 2009 10:36:32 PM

This isn’t about helmet’s it’s about concussion and not from getting hit. TBI is a horriffic injury and not unlike PTSD many don’t seek help and just go on trying to live with it. We had a Veteran that couldn’t hold a job he was getting discouraged we found him a job in a deli and after 2 weeks they had to let him go because he couldn;t remember what went in the different sandwiches. There is help out there but if you don’t ask for it you won’t get it. It could be little things like forgetting your address or a phone number all the way up to forgetting where you’re driving to or even how to drive or where you live! If you think you’ve suffered a TBI please go to the VA Hospital immediately, Fortunately Michigan has 70% of the TBI Hospitals and Clinics in the US here. Take care God Bless you all and all of our Troops serving in harms way!

Mar 6, 2009 1:22:35 AM

See, this is the kind of irresponsible journalism I hate. They make it sound as though 360,000 are suffering from severe TBI’s. They are including even the slightest concussion. But, the ant-war gang will get hold of this story and twist and turn it and make it sound to the mainstream population that they all have the worst of the worst. Hell, I get a concussion just listening to my wife nag every morning. Man, I hope she doen’t read this or I’ll end up with a TBI.(LOL)

Mar 6, 2009 1:31:32 AM

What happens is, when a vehicle is hit by an RPG or the vehile hits an IED, the vehicle makes such radical turns, flips, and stops that the people inside even though they are wearing a helmet, their brain still flys inside their skull depressing on the skull. It doesn’t take much. In most cases, the victim, or injured person doesn’t even realize they have a concussion. They will feel fine until a few hours later when they become very disoriented and vomiting. In the first 10 minutes of an accident they should all do triage on one another for symtoms. Then again periodically throughtout the next 24 hours. The same goes for anyone who jars their head hard enough, hits their head, falls, any kind of slight to severe head injury is serious. But, may not end up serious if treated properly.

Mar 6, 2009 1:36:07 AM

It isn’t the helmet that’s causing the problem. It is the shaking of the head. When it gets rattled from explosions, it rattles the brain, thus pushing away the protective gel between the brain and the skull and the brain ultimately strikes the skull, causing the cuncussion.

Mar 6, 2009 8:24:04 AM

Every GI has some sort of brain damage…

Mar 6, 2009 6:39:14 PM

Granted that “injury” to the brain is always serious matter but “may be mild concussion” permits jacking number up to scary levels for a headline.
The trouble is no one can say what impairment or behavior change is the result of “m.c’s” or more gross injury. Everyone who ever got slammed to the ground, hit his head on the transom (ship) and kept on going, should consider reporting to sick bay just for the record. Most of us m.c.’s are untreated and unaware and life goes on. (sort of my wife would say).

Mar 6, 2009 6:45:12 PM

This war is in a scale by itself. Not many in the way of harm compared to many wars. But before better tactics and equipment were deployed, high number of injuries with survival for number on the roads. Get the real facts f;or us please. What is the number of IED INDUCED TBI’S? It would be a nice piece of journalism to give data by year to track reaction of logistics/acquisition/tactic change.. Not much difference in this campaign, less, if anything a lot less, of incoming arty.

Mar 8, 2009 6:45:15 PM

rkgtactical, you have it right on! I see Soldiers every day in my WTB who show a single or a combination of the symptoms that 3371796 listed. They all tell the same story; their experiences mirror your explanation precisely.

Diagnosis and treatment has indeed come a long way over the last 40 years — but it still has a long way to go. The command climate is still not completely welcoming to those who want to come forward with a request for help. It’s better, but it still makes Soldiers afraid to speak up — I hear it from them at least once every week.

I have hope, though. Keep poking the Hill, keep supporting those veterans’ groups that work the congressional halls, keep funding the research and the VA hospitals, and go volunteer for organizations in your communities that help those with TBI, mTBI and/or PTSD. Get involved and soon we can win this war, too!

Mar 9, 2009 5:39:05 AM

Fortunately, Dr. Paul Harch in New Orleans has developed a very effective treatment for brain injury. My son, my brother, and myself have all been successfully treated. Now 16 veterans of this war have been treated for blast injury, and the DoD Appropriations committee last week brought this up. SOCOM is now actively sending Iraqi War Veterans for treatment, and a lot of Marines have been treated. Five of five veterans of the war who were being medically boarded have had their medical boards cancelled and been able to return to active duty. It has also reversed or improved PTSD while it fixed brain injury. The problem is real for anyone who has been concussed, and these modern explosives are much more effective at causing significant blast waves. Dr. Harch is treating people for free and several military charities have stepped to to make this possible.

Mar 10, 2009 1:10:14 PM

Dr. Harch has been pioneering research in the use of low pressure (less than two atmospheres) hyperbaric treatment of brain injury. He has a number of cases where the patients not only recovered their pre-TBI level of functioning but where SPECT scans showed changes in how the brain metabolism had recovered.

My sister was in a roll over car accident in 2006 that caused ‘minor TBI’ (ie no signficant loss of consciousness, no coma). She is a doctor and went from being the head of a pediatric intensive care unit to not being able to remember a six digit number, remember critical conversations and make critical treatment decisions and even sometimes not able to remember what amounts were the right dose of familiar medicines. She was completely incapacitated as a doctor and even needed a lot of help to function as a mother and homemaker. She went from being able to do three things at a time for 12 hours straight to a woman who became exhausted by tasks that lasted more than 2 hours.

In 2008, more than a year after her injury, she started low pressure hyperbaric oxygen treatment. After 60 treatments she is back at work and has started conducting research into this treatment with stroke victims and TBI survivors.

The amazing thing is that it can have these dramatic outcomes even if done a couple of years after the injury. Normally, very little improvement is expected after 12 to 18 mos.

When she last spoke to me, they had stopped the stroke research study early because the improvements were so great that keeping half the subjects untreated as ‘controls’ any longer was felt to be witholding a critical (and proven) medical treatment. The results were too good to wait for the pre-planned end of the study.

It is probably going to take 2 to 5 years for the research to make this a standard treatment. In the meantime, this is really worth looking into as a cutting edge treatment for patients with ‘mild TBI’.

Mar 11, 2009 6:13:49 AM

I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. — W.C. Fields

TBIs aren’t funny though. Is this war worth the cost? What are we gaining? What are we doing? Only our politicians’ hairdressers know for sure, yet didn’t W look great in his military outfit when he proclaimed victory years ago?

Be safe. Keep your heads down.

Mar 11, 2009 8:04:01 AM

YEP, I tried to TELL VA and I tried to tell anyone who would listen, this war, would have alot of INJURIED Soldiers, and the Medical evaluations that the MILTARY’s are giving Soldiers leaving the Military, isnt worth 2cents, there needs to be a better test for soldiers leaving the military so that there medical condition is not laughed at when they go to the VA, like it did, when I came home from being MEDICALLY DISCHARGED!!! I hit my head on a medal box while walking to duty in Korea, I went to sick call and it was blown off, like nothing now that endent in my head has gotten worst, like I can feel a gap, and every year it gets wider…..What do you think the VA will do to help me with that?? Laugh and sweep it under the rug.I feel for all the soldiers that are coming home with serious medical problems, its a shame and something needs to CHANGE and STOP HIRING PEOPLE TO WORK AT THE VA THAT DONT CARE AND THEY ARE ONLY THERE FOR THE MONEY, THAT MAKES ME SICK AND MAD WHEN I SEE THOSE PEOPLE WORKING KNOWING THEY ARE NOT THERE FOR THE VETERAN, BUT JUST FOR A CHECK!!!!!!

Mar 11, 2009 8:39:48 AM

Let an NFL layer get a concussion and the whole country sheds a tear. “Will he be able to play next Sunday?” (to earn his 45 million dollard), but a GI? Hey pal you’ll be just fine in a day or two!!!

Mar 11, 2009 9:55:33 AM

I was told that I have TBI shortly after I came home from the sand box . They told me it was mild but never told me what that was. I have sever headaches that never drop below 5 on the pain scale. I have been to the V .A . hospital ER several times and each time they give me 2 shots to help with the pain . So I have had to learn about TBI on my own .I can’t work because of my headaches and the dizzyness that comes with the most severe headaches . I’m an OIF/OEF vet and have several claims going now with the V.A. but they are so far behind I don’t know when and if I’ll hear anything .

Mar 11, 2009 9:58:47 AM

I was blown up in 1967 when my assault vehicle hit an anti tank mine. The concussion was strong enough to fracture my back in 6 places, and break numerous ribs.

The force of the explosion was also strong enough to bend the heads of the bullets while they were still in the ammo boxes. All ammunition had to be destroyed.

The medical treatment I got after the lacerations and breaks were cared for….6 weeks light duty.

I still suffer today from the sheer force of that ONE explosion and resulting concussion, not to mention unexplained premature memory loss and occassional confusion over the years.

The VA will step up and give the care needed NOW. They are far better today than I have ever experienced in the 40 years I’ve been dealing with them.

The secret is…Squeeky Wheels. You want something done, you make it an objective and a mission… you write your Congressman, you go up the chain of command in the VA, always send LETTERS as they have to keep those and then you have a paper record.

Always request a HEARING, as for a representitive from your Congressmans staff to be there (the VA hates this). When you have established yourself as someone who will NOT TAKE NO, someone who will FIGHT, and someone who can write a professional and polite response to rejection (very important)….they will just avoid problems.

Lastly when they talk about BUDGETS and COSTS …. remind them that in 2007 with the Veterans Administration being $ billion dollar over budget and in the Red. The upper management of the VA gave their department heads over $33 million in bonuses. Job well done ?????

Squeeky wheels get the grease


Mar 11, 2009 9:59:43 AM

I was hit in o3 and could not figure out what was the matter. It took awhile after I was back but I started to notice my memory was horrible as well as my balance and level of fatigue. Not until articles were published on TBI was I able to get diagnosed and treated. By the way I was diagnosed a year ago and I am still waiting on my rating.

Mar 11, 2009 11:22:01 AM

Corn Dog
I am one of those who is caught in the big Gov wheel of the VA. I went to Iraq in 2006 only taking one pill a day (vit.) and returned taking 9 pills and a vitamin. I have 14 issues of which 11 I will have to live with from now on. One of those is severe chronic vertigo. A severe case of dizziness with no warning. My memory and ability to concentrate seem to elude me at times along with the room spinning.
A big yes or concur with 17866552 that when you return from a deployment and your still breathing but not bleeding they are going to do their utmost best to discharge you and tell you the VA will take care of you and your issues but not a word about how long it will take the big wheel to turn. My savings is almost depleted and have been selling off assets which is hard to do in this economy. No one will hire a person who can’t stand but for short periods of time and when he does the room spins.
I will do the best I can for my 4 kids and family. I pray a lot these days and hope the wheel of big gov. will do as they say they will and start taking care of vets who are in need now. **Not holding my breath**

Mar 11, 2009 1:45:40 PM

Vietnam Vet from 67-68
How about us Vietnam vets that were rideing the A.P.C. ‘s when we hit the mines. Never yet been tested for TBI. OR asked about it. Don’t think they wanta open up a can of worms maybe.

Mar 11, 2009 2:20:16 PM

Reading this article has been the first time I heard of TBI. I served in Baghdad as a SAW Gunner for a MP company for 15 months in 2003. I have been diagnosed with PTSD because of my irritability, inability to focus or multi-task, loss of memory, nightmares, headaches…etc the list goes on. My headaches get so bad that I get dizzy and throw up. I was diagnosed with “vertigo” overseas and they just said it was from stress. I have bulging disks in my neck and back from being thrown around in the turret so much ramming into civilian vehicles. We did get RPG’s launched at us but they missed. We worked with EOD and blew up the IED’s that we found “that didn’t find us first”. There were times that the infantry would blow up buildings with abrahams right next to our un-armored hmmv. Do you think that I have been mis-diagnosed and could have TBI?

Mar 11, 2009 2:22:03 PM

Gen.Lauree Sutton,


In reading the article on over 380,000 soldier’s suffering with brain damage I can see you have a lot on your mind.

It has been my understanding that in the neuro transmitter’s travel at a faster rate along their pathway’s to the central cortex by the formation of some type I forget the name but it starts with an M, with over a period of time acts like an insulation on a wire as it grows over the fine neuro fiber’s like in optic sending this information along the pathways for the basic life support funtions to the motor functions of the differnt body actions as well as sight, sound, and speech. I could go on with this but as I hsve only a few more minutes I would like to comment on the research of a doctor David Baker investigator for HHMI on his research on the folding of protiens and other spinal injuries, and damages in this field through his Rosetta program. As an ex- cav medic one of my jobs was to check the heads of trooper’s who TC’d tanks and who didn’t duck when they went under a low tree branch. At the time I was allowed only to check for pupil dialation and give two aspirins and a band aid, but I from my own differn’t head traumas of the same nature can only use my own self to use for an example how I overcame my injury to regain my functions. Like the time I had to suture my own hand after my chain saw jumped a tree branch I was slashing. If it wasn’t for my time at the the VA for a ahnd wound I never would of known how to suture with out making sure not to suture my 3 layer’s of skin to the tendons and align the nerve ending’s.. Allons .. Lady Green Sleeves… Cloud

Mar 11, 2009 10:59:33 PM


Mar 11, 2009 11:37:55 PM

I wonder how many of these 360,000 will be diagnosed years from now with Parkinson’s disease or some other TBI. Studies have shown that the concussion from IED’s and other ordinance have links to PD and other TBI according to programs like the Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Programs (NETRP). I also hope that an extension of health benefits is well funded to treat these brave military heroes.

SGT Michael J Church USMC Ret.

Mar 12, 2009 12:04:33 AM

Read the article AGAIN “carefully”.There are “TWO” basic types of TBI with many varying symptoms as the article pointed out.Internal ,and External.External of which you spoke,is when the Head is injured by piercing,Blunt force trauma.Anything that STRIKES the head.Internal is when Excessively loud noises such as explosions damage the brain by virtue of the intense NOISE itself WITHOUT physically damaging the head.Rendered unconscious for more than a few minutes also cause internal TBI.”NO” Helmet of ANY KIND can protect from internal TBI as the NOISE enters through the EARS and causes shock to the brain to my friend.I had suffered from Internal TBI for 45 years and did not “KNOW IT” until last year,2008 when I was administered an Audiogram by a VA Audiologist.My Doctor scheduled the Audiology because I had trouble with intense pain in my ears since my Army days which the VA DENIED the first two claims I filed years ago.The Audiology also dicovered to my surprise along with the major surprise of TBI that I had suffered from considerable hearing loss all of those years which my records confirmed I did NOT leave service with the SAME hearing of which I entered.Upon hearing the SHOCKING revelation that I had TBI.I was quite DISTURBED and a little teary.NO ONE wants dirty filthy money at such a cost.My TBI came as the result of so much noise as an 11 B will experience and also from being CHOKED unconscious for several minutes of which I had STOPPED breathing and an NCO revived me.the LAST I remember was blacking out at around 1622 and waking up around 1307.It has been concluded that incident is what caused my TBI and the massive military NOISE that I was continously exposed to only intensified it.”NOW” the ULTIMATE battle is on AGAIN trying to get the VA to approve my justified claim.I hope this helps to understand there are TWO types of TBI.Very best wishes.

Mar 12, 2009 2:25:51 AM

What system is the Army using to track and keep account of Soldiers who are suffering from this type of injury? J Johnson

Mar 12, 2009 2:36:27 AM

GET THOSE HEADS CHECKED OUT!! I had a TBI in the early 70’s and have suffered ever since. Alot of problems might not surface right away. It may take a few years for them to surface, which is usally the norm. I started taking seizures in 76, finally had surgery in 92 cuz no meds could control them. Whether it was the injury, the countless # of seizures, or the fact I took neurological drugs for 33 years have left me an idiot.IMO No short term memory, PTSD, MDD, Adult ADHD, I have em all. Even the VA says I’m unemployable. Some doctors say it’s my age, but I’ve had these problems for the last 29 years. Don’t take any head injury lightly. If the injury doesn’t get you, the meds or uninformed doctors will. Get an MRI or CT-scan and get it checked out and treated. TBI’s are not to be taken lightly.

Mar 12, 2009 4:40:09 AM

“That was absolutely interesting…the more the brain injury becomes infectious, the more that the GIs becomes more cautious. I know that they never realized how big the dilemma is but with that brain injury like i have, it is more fun having a spy games and take medicine at the same time to heal the injury at the faster pace.”-jb

Mar 12, 2009 4:42:24 AM

“That was absolutely interesting…the more the brain injury becomes infectious, the more that the GIs becomes more cautious. I know that they never realized how big the dilemma is but with that brain injury like i have, it is more fun having a spy games and take medicine at the same time to heal the injury at the faster pace.”-jb

Mar 12, 2009 12:37:02 PM

What is it exactly that is causeing the concussions? As funny as the NFL suggestion was, I doubt that our soldiers are banging their heads together just for fun. chances are that it is shock waves from explosions. the only real solution that could be implemented quickly and cheaply would be lingin the helmet with basicly eggcrate. the goal is not only to keep the head from hitting the helmet sides/front/back but also to absorb incoming shockwaves. the “eggcrate” would do just that. clearly the current lining is simply not enough.

Mar 12, 2009 12:39:06 PM

Hyperbaric oxygen treatments have been very effective at treating TBI and PTSD. There is a bill (HR7299) about to be voted on soon to give funding for these non-drug whole body treatments. They have proven to be 98% effective in helping brain injured veterans. Call your congressman to vote “Yes” for this funding. Our servicemen don’t need pills and pushed out the door. They need modern effective treatment.


Mar 12, 2009 1:54:26 PM

I work at a medical office in Marrero LA with a Dr Paul Harch. He is currently doing a study that a Semper Fi fund is helping to pay for, also the Coalition to Salute American Heroes fund is also helping to pay for TBI pt’s that were injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is quite wonderful, and very understanding. The treatment is done with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, and he has written a book called the Oxygen Revolution that also details some of his studies. I urge TBI pt’s to look into this treatment. It isn’t a cure all for everyone, but I have personally seen great results. My heart goes out to all of those with TBI’s. There are so many long lasting effects for them to deal with day to day.

Semper Peratus

Mar 12, 2009 1:56:42 PM

I work at a medical office in Marrero LA with a Dr Paul Harch. He is currently doing a study that a Semper Fi fund is helping to pay for, also the Coalition to Salute American Heroes fund is also helping to pay for TBI pt’s that were injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is quite wonderful, and very understanding. The treatment is done with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, and he has written a book called the Oxygen Revolution that also details some of his studies. I urge TBI pt’s to look into this treatment. It isn’t a cure all for everyone, but I have personally seen great results. My heart goes out to all of those with TBI’s. There are so many long lasting effects for them to deal with day to day.

Semper Peratus

Mar 12, 2009 2:13:04 PM

What about getting an anurysum, has anyone been diagnosed with this?

Mar 12, 2009 3:35:48 PM

As a Mom i am very saddened by all this terrible news. my man is ex army. we have tryed to raise my two kids well i have a girl and a boy. my daughter does not play sports she has a condition called visually impaired. i found out when she was in first grade with extra help and longer test time allowed she has excelled in school is now in her 2nd year of college. a very different child than my son raised with the same honest hard work values in the same loving home. my boy i kept from playing football when he was young saw to many injuries that are unnecessary for young kids who are still developing. had him play soccer basketball and track he is good at them and likes them he is in high school now and wants to do football…ugh…he is also not getting good grades and he can but doesnt do his homework like he is suppose to and chases his girlfriend around school all day so he is getting lots of tardy’s to class. if it wasnt for this DAMMED WAR I WOULD BE STRONGLY ADVISING HIM TO JOIN A BRANCH OF THE MILITARY TO CONTINUE HIS EDUCATION AND GET STRAIGHTENED OUT BY SERVING SOMEWHERE ABROAD SO HE CAN SEE HOW BAD OTHER PEOPLE HAVE IT HERE SINCE OBVIOUSLY SEEING ME STRUGGLE HASNT DONE MUCH FOR HIM. Our government does not give a **** about our men and women. it is getting harder to keep our kids in line since this war as well cause some of them are afraid these guys coming out of service are gonna start going crazy like allot of vets from vietnam. if we teach our kids we are suppose to learn from history then why isnt our government taking this lesson….the kids today that are dwelling on this are thinking whats the use we are all gonna die soon cause we have been over there too long already and i hope obama can get us out safely. god bless all and i do thank all the men and women serving in the military of every branch. together we are one. i hope and pray for everyones safe return and hope those who have returned with injuries of any kind get or eventually get the care they deserve.

Mar 12, 2009 4:17:04 PM

Also keep in mind that one contributing factor to the increased number of soldiers living with persistent injury is caused by the continuing effectiveness of battlefield medicine.

In WW1, the use of helmets, intended to reduce injuries from artillery shrapnel, actually INCREASED the number of head injuries, but DECREASED the number of soldiers killed instantly.

So setting aside the issue of the real and continuing problems servicemembers are living with, keep in mind that many of them are living now because of the progress in medical and protective technology, and they could otherwise be dead, or living with even WORSE injury.

And, if anyone, military or not, is living with a permanent impariment, they need to keep pushing to get the help that this society has given them rights to.

Mar 12, 2009 6:25:24 PM

Memory issues
2.) Tinnitus
3.) Inability to focus or concentrate for longer
periods of time + 10 minutes.
4.) Irritability
5.) Eyesight/reading issues
6.) Lack of interest in hobbies
7.) Restlessness
8.) Recurring headaches
i got all these too and the va dont give a hoot whats wrong whith you thay just keep shuffling you around from doctor to doctor be going on since 2005 thay sent me to a shrink and that idoiot said i was depressed and gave me a pill that i couldnt even function was for sleep too but was zombie the next day on the pills **** dont work and the shrink never been in the **** so thay dont know whats it like getting shot at and blown up for 15 months from 2003 to 2004 what a crock the va is thay just want there payckeck and go home sad asses!!

Mar 12, 2009 10:50:46 PM

I’m a disabled Vet(1969-70 I was 19)(PTSD)Vietnam Hamburger Hill and didn’t even know I was to I reached 57. They got me cheap.

I never heard of a war vet that didn’t have PTSD if he’s ever been in a fire fight of any kind.

You take what ever money you can get, go for PTSD, keep reappealing, there’s no limit, get to 100% in 2 appeals. Your money does not count toward income and once your at 100% you are total and perminent.(not taxable) You can still make all the money you want.

As for the meds, it up to you whether you want to take them or not or try taking half doses if they are knocking you silly.

Good Luck Young Brother

Mar 13, 2009 10:06:55 AM

I learned the hard way in an automobile accident about Traumatic Brain Injuries. Just because a helmet lessens the blow given doesn’t mean your brain inside that helmet stops moving…less trauma but damage is damage just the same to the brain. I relearned to walk and talk at the VA Hospital near Minneapolis, MN. I was only in a coma for 3 days. Alot less time than a gentleman who was there with me, who was in a coma for a couple/few months. They said at that time it was the second best hospital behind Walter Reed in the VA Medical System to offer rehab of this type. I didn’t successfully complete my rehab stint there…I did it at home with time, because I knew even in my shape I wasn’t as bad off as some of the soldiers coming back from the Middle East…they needed the bed worse than I did. So I recuperated on my own schedule with time. I worked towards the goal of not just walking but being able to run again…with patience and time I was able to do that. The hardest thing to see is the little improvements, you can only think in terms of what you aren’t able to do at a particular time and what you used to be able to do, not what you can do. I was very lucky to be here today and it could be just to share a bit of my story with somebody but always be thankful that you are alive no matter what condition you are in. I succeeded in working towards getting a college degree now. I heard that it takes appx. 5 years to fully recover from a T.B.I. and as much as I tried to push for it sooner I was able to notice that the 5 year mark was just about dead on. You learn to compensate for your new shortcomings and drive on. The determination that I learned in the service probably served me best during this time. Just don’t accept less than what you want and with a little bit of assistance from people you can learn to live again. It’s hard to have somebody there with you driving you towards your goals and sometimes they seem far away, but just build little by little and those little things add up to big things. Emotions and impulses are hard to control…that’s why they give you some medications…to help everyone else deal with the new you…I stuck by my guns and was emphatic about what I wanted to take and what I didn’t want to take…I was a zombie as one writes about. But now I realize that the medications I am on now are right for the new me…stabilize, because you don’t really know what you are doing or how you effect other people. What seems normal to you causes problems for others. Learn to assimilate back into society and your life…don’t assume that everything is right, it’s hard to here that something is wrong, but listen and learn to overcome it. Well if anyone wants someone to talk to about there troubles I’m here…can’t say that I can help in anyway but I can listen…Remember that you sacrificed yourself so that so many others can live and that is often overlooked by alot of people but I’m one Vet that just wants to say thanks. 608-206-3433 Brian

Mar 13, 2009 12:01:08 PM

I had trauma to the head while in the Navy in 1975. Symtoms included extreme headaches, loss of attention, poor eyesight, inablility to stay focused, uncoordination, etc. It turned out to be sub dural hema toma that was evacuated three weeks later after two misdiagnosis. 60cc of serosanguinis fluid was removed by drilling burr holes. After a few minutes of compression of the brain, you begin to lose brain cells. I had compression of the brain for 3 weeks. You dont’ get brain cells back: you will ALWAYS HAVE TBI although the effects might not be that evident.
They didnt’ have MRI’s back then so I was released to active duty with poor handwriting and occasionally mispronouncing words. 33 years later, someone intelligent enough to notice an abnormal behavior in approaching things had me go to a Dr. EEG proved irregular even though I appear normal. MRI showed the scar tissue to my brain as well as evidence of a stroke which could only have happened then.
I’ve been physically active, mentally I am above average intelligence. And although many aspects of my life seem fine, its still hard to concentrate on reading (dont’ think I’ve ever finished a book since then), I still lose my train of thought and focus sometimes, and I am constantly forgetting things,& even very important things. My handwriting still begs for improvement…
It took a battery of tests at NYU Rusk institute in NYcity to realize I remain “wounded” by this TBI. I am working with Drs in cognitive therapy to compensate for inadequacies as we speak. I have never applied for vet benefits although I may have to in light of the evidence that has come to light in the last months.
TBI exists! In varying degrees, and its hard to detect exactly where sometimes, but it does exist and it has caused me untold problems over the years. It can’t be cured, but with help, you can COMPENSATE with behavior and methods that will help with memory and other problems associated with this condition.

Mar 13, 2009 5:28:58 PM

What do they mean 320,000? When, and if, they add in all the Viet Nam Vets, the Panama Vets, the Grenada Vets, the Desert Storm Vets and all the ones who served on active duty on the carriers or in the tanks or in the bombers who never saw action but were the “front line” during the cold war (but don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen) the number of brain injured will number in the millions.

I’m one of that “number in the millions” group. The VA refused to even consider a permanent brain injury even though there is documented proof in my medical records of traumatic head injury in Viet Nam. They said I was crazy, delusional, and my all time favorite, “a trouble maker who will not accept the obvious diagnosis”.

Then the VA me a complete head injury work up with CAT Scans because a summer intern Medical Student from Oklahoma State University who was doing clinical work at the local VA Hospital actually listened to me and said “you know, we just studied that and it sounds like you have a brain injury. Lets take a look and see what comes up.” What came up is a brain injury.

The moral? Don’t accept “the obvious diagnosis”. Fight for your rights and demand all the test necessary to confirm the real diagnosis from the VA. It’s your right, and I must say it’s your responsibility.

Mar 13, 2009 7:49:28 PM

I have a semi related question. For the last 5 years, I have experianced headaches on a daily basis. The non-military doctors can’t find a cause. I was deployed in the summer of 2004, but not to a hostile area (Air Force, Qatar) the worst thing to happen was I was hit with severe heat exhaustion and spend a few days in the infirmary. But would that cause headaches? Or maybe the smallpox or anthrax vacinations? Like I said, no answers from the civilian doctors and I have pretty much given up persuing the cause since it costs to much money rite now. Thank you for taking the time to answer.

Mar 13, 2009 9:36:48 PM

Hello Everybody
May the Lord be with you all and His healing power heal all the injured ones…this is a very sad thing…blessings forever to all
Andy Pratt, musician…

Mar 13, 2009 10:47:05 PM

I treat these guys daily, and I see them in clinic exhibiting all the symptoms ( found on the internet ) of TBI and other brain injury. Yet I see these guys spending hours playing violent video games, at the casino, and clubbing. All their objective findings are normal or negative, so basically we’re relying on subjective complaints, flawed neuropsych testing and exagerrated symptoms. Where do you draw the line on actual, real injury and those just trying to get something for nothing!

Mar 15, 2009 10:57:28 PM

Government spent 85 billion to bail out AIG. AIG is paying out 130M for exec bonuses…Army only spent 242M to treat brain injuries. Something wrong with that picture.

Mar 16, 2009 1:53:51 AM

RichardSl Mar 5, 2009 8:54:38 AM Whoa Nellie!! What is going on — I would think that the helmut would be helpful in avoiding this type injury — maybe they ought to get with the NFL and see what actions they are taking with there helmuts to prevent concussions among their players. Twenty percent sounds awfully high. …..come on rich nfl players dont run through ied’s like we do come on bro…

Mar 16, 2009 9:19:47 PM

TBI is not an easy thing to live with. I’ve had it since 1958. Been fighting for my full pension far to long.I just will not quit. But the pain,& suffering never ends.I get treatment.But it so far has not benifited me. More so the military does all they can to cover up & hide your records.
They just do not want to pay up.And the worst part about TBI before it had a name.I felt I was insane all these years.Not holding a job because at times the pain is so severe.How many drugs can one take & be still suffer.I stopped taking the drugs,I don’t want to end up addicted to medications & then end up something else becasue it’s experimental treatment.I only comment to say.TBI is a deadly & searious problem.Some they help.most they do nothing.The papers fall to deaf ears and end in the trash.
Thanks for an ear.

Mar 17, 2009 12:28:58 PM

Relatively cheap, safe, treatment for most TBI cases has been available since the 1960s; but,the mainstream medical community AND the VAwill not use it!

It’s called Hyper-Baric Oxygen (HBO) treatment and has been used with dramitic positive effect for stroke sufferers since the 1920s.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can resemble stroke; AND, what is the State-of-the-Art treatment for stroke sufferers who are lucky enough to have caring, COMPETENT doctors?

Ans: HBO treatments. Once a patient is stabilized and the quicker the patient is placed in an HBO chamber the better and more dramatic the results.

Studies done in the 40s and 50s indicated that if a stroke patient survived the first 48 hours and was placed as quickly as possible after stabilization into an HBO chamber, the patient had a 90% chance that there would be no permanent brain or brain related damage.

Like treatment of The Bends, the quicker the treatment, the better the results—especially
if the victim were young and physically active before the stroke or TBI from IED, etc…

One TBI sufferer suggested CAT or MRI scans for ALL troops BEFORE THEY go into a war zone so that if a person says they experience TBI, a new CAT or MRI can tell if combat damage has occurred.

Currently, most HBO treatment is only available to people with extreme medical needs, treatment for TBI is considered a ‘Quality of Life’ issue and not deserving of proven treatment.

Every, EVERY, HBO treatment center in Georgia will not treat TBI with HBO. The only one I know of is in Florida.

Fellow vets. CAT and MRI scanning of your body BEFORE going into a War Zone will be initially expensive; and, the HBO treatment will be initially expensive; BUT, by turning this from elite proceedures into a assembly line process monitored by GED grads with a few months training can not just improve lives but even save them and SAVE MONEY!

Write your Congressmen and Senators!
Get active in your local VFW and American Legion Posts.

Current treatments for TBI is ‘Pennywise and Dollar Foolish.’

Bill Bryan
USASA 1966-70
google: Hyper-Baric Oxygen Treatment for
Traumatic Brain Injuries (or Strokes)
404-824-4120 (c)

Mar 18, 2009 2:58:34 PM

As a TBI survivor myself for 19 years I have been publishing newsletters, cartoons and fliers on the trauma of a TBI and recovery since 1994. I am trying to get a grant to broadcast one of my next symposiums in Pittsburgh to all the Veterans hospitals caring for our returning soldiers RECOVERING from a BRAIN INJURY suffered while serving our country.
With many of the young men finding themselves rejected by their peers, family and society in general, all of them must be made aware that it is an UPHILL climb to recovery, with almost every day showing signs of improvement (even for me now almost 20 years post from my 10 day coma). It is not the end of our life, but an annoyance at times to function in our lives we are returning to.