TBI – Why Veterans Should Take it Serious

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Earlier today, I watched a Podcast interview of Joe Rogan interviewing former Navy Seal, Andy Stumpf, about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Suicide. As someone that works in the mental health field (Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation) and served in the military for 22 years, I really enjoyed this video.

Note: I am not a medical professional. Therefore, please do not use this information as medical advice.

Back in the 1990’s while I was Infantry, we really didn’t know much about TBI. At least, I didn’t. I can’t count the amount of times we would fire every type of weapon system you can think of, without considering the ramifications of what we were potentially doing to our bodies; specifically the brain. I just assumed my head hurting, while training in a field environment, was a part of the job. Thankfully, I do not have any symptoms of TBI. But what about the men and women I served with?

It makes me wonder, what kind of secondary and tertiary effects did we miss during WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, and Desert Storm? Thankfully, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) [Afghanistan] and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) led to us finally understanding the seriousness of TBI.

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Military

According to Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC), “Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a significant health issue which affects service members and veterans during times of both peace and war. The high rate of TBI and blast-related concussion events resulting from current combat operations directly impacts the health and safety of individual service members and subsequently the level of unit readiness and troop retention. The impacts of TBI are felt within each branch of service and throughout both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care systems.

In the VA, TBI has become a major focus, second only to recognition of the need for increased resources to provide health care and vocational retraining for individuals with a diagnosis of TBI, as they transition to veteran status. Veterans may sustain TBIs throughout their lifespan, with the largest increase as the veterans enter their 70s and 80s; these injuries are often caused by falls and results in high levels of disability.”

In 2018, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published an Injury Fact Sheet. I highly recommend all veterans, service members, and their families read this to help develop a better understand TBI.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

According to Brainline, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a disease of the brain found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive head impacts. This type of trauma can trigger progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal form of protein called tau. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, parkinsonism, and progressive dementia. These symptoms often begin years of even decades after the brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death.”

If you’ve been paying attention to the National Football League (NFL) over the last couple of years, you have probably heard about the study of CTE and what happens to its players after years of being hit in the head. For more about this 2017 study, visit: NFL Issues Response to CTE Research Report.

CTE Symptoms May affect How a Person:

  • Thinks
  • Feels
  • Acts
  • Moves

Bottom Line: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) symptoms, just like signs of suicide, should never be ignored. “I’m just going to suck it up,” is not an effective solution. If you or someone you know are experiencing signs of TBI, please seek medical assistance. Your physical and mental health matter.

Challenge: Share this information with a veteran or current service member. Below you will find additional resources about this topic.

Resources:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

OHIOcares

Ohio Army National Guard – Adjutant General’s Department

Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS)

Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

1 comments on “TBI – Why Veterans Should Take it Serious”

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