Understanding TBI in Our Nation's Military and Veterans: Its Occurrence, Identification and Treatment, and Legal Ramifications
25 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2016
Date Written: 2015
Department of Defense data reveals that of those who served in the U.S. Military from 2000 through 2011, 235,046 service members (4.2% of the 5,603,720 who served in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps) were diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Because of the high prevalence of exposure to explosive devices, TBI has been labeled a “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Adding to the unique nature of combat-induced TBI is the occurrence of commingling posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD). Because servicemembers’ exposure to events and comorbidities may differ significantly from civilian experiences of TBI, for instance sports injuries, it is important to understand the ramification of this condition for our military. A failure of the Department of Defense (DoD) or Veterans Affairs (VA) to adequately diagnose or treat this condition can lead to significant concerns for servicemembers, including legal ramifications and a denial of treatment or benefits for TBI.
In order to offer background to the discussion of TBI in our military veterans, Part I of this article will give a brief overview of TBI, in particular mild TBI. Part II will discuss the issue of the comorbidity of other conditions with military members’ TBI, to include PTSD. Part III will provide information on how the DoD and the VA evaluate and treat this condition in our servicemembers and veterans. Part IV will discuss why the recognition of potential symptoms or mild TBI in our servicemembers and veterans is important for many reasons, to include the ability to receive healthcare and benefits from the VA.
Keywords: traumatic brain injury, TBI, PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans
JEL Classification: K3, K39, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation