Brain injury and PTSD are not new issues for the United States military, but they are becoming worse as more and more soldiers return home with serious conditions, and more research shows us the extent TBI and PTSD can affect a person, even years after the initial injury.
So far, over 200,000 U.S. troops have suffered TBI during service, and many, including members of congress, are beginning to think the high number of brain injuries are causing the epidemic of suicides plaguing veterans.
Traumatic brain injury has been shown to cause depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts in patients, along with numerous debilitating physical problems such as motor function deficits and vision problems.
On Tuesday, March 5th, 53 congressional members sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, seeking additional information to explore the theory. They asked for figures on the number of veterans and service members who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who have also committed or attempted suicide after a brain injury.
“Evidence has suggested that blast injuries, including but not limited to those causing damage to vision or hearing, can have a severe psychological impact … that can play a major contributing role in suicides,” read the bi-partisan letter, according to NBC News.
The decision to investigate the issue is supported by at least three veterans groups, including the Blinded Veterans Association. Doctors and researchers have already been considering a possible connection between IED-caused brain injuries and suicide, and the hope is that better data on veterans will help give a better perspective into the link between the two.