Our nation’s greatest possession is our military; after all I might not be writing this if it wasn’t for the brave efforts of our country’s heroes. Unfortunately, a lot of our war veterans suffer from brain injuries. These are also known as the “silent injury”. These injuries can have major physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral effects. According to the Defense and Brain Injury Center, the risks and costs of brain injury for the military are:
- In prior wars, TBI was present in at least 14-20% of surviving combat victims. Early information from the current conflict in the Middle East suggests that this number is now much higher.
- In peacetime, over 7,000 Americans with TBI are admitted to military and veterans hospitals each year.
- TBI is a major cause of life-long injury and death.
- Certain military jobs carry above-average risk of TBI.
- Blast injuries are a growing cause of TBI in combat.
According to Virginia Commonwealth University, researchers found that among brain injured veterans treated by the Veterans Health Administration between 2009 and 2011 most had a diagnosed mental health issue. Just about half had both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain. This with mental health issues makes the brain injuries harder to treat. So, early recognition and treatment are important to the success and health of our veterans.
Most of the VA hospitals are not able to deal with the number of veterans with TBI, let alone both TBI and other mental health issues. These hospitals also usually have long waiting periods for treatment. Also, veterans detected with physical problems are more able to receive treatment over those who do not. This is due to the fact they tend not to live on their own and are awarded the benefits as others are not. Yet, as these veterans continue to be denied treatment they continue to suffer in silence. This suffering tends to worsen and goes unnoticed by most people. These silent injuries lead to the inability to keep relationships with loved ones, jobs, and other life activities. This then adds to the ever growing population of homeless veterans and those who commit suicide.
It is our duty as a nation to care for those service members who return from war. Especially those who have been hurt physically and mentally. No military member should go without treatment. Without them, we would not be living in the greatest nation on Earth. We owe it to our veterans to care for those who answered the call to duty in order to keep our way of life. “I went to a foreign country and when I came back, this was the foreign country. I am lost, scared, and don’t know what to do to make it better” – Wounded Warrior Project Survey Participant. These statements have become a reality instead of a myth. It is our duty as a nation to change this around as “The greatest casualty is being forgotten®”- WWP .
For further information on veterans and brain injuries please visit Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center & U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.