The long-term study of brain injury in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans remains unfunded and limited in its scope. The 273,000 troops identified by the military with brain injury will need long-term follow-up to understand the issues they face in the years post-injury. We do not know how many undiagnosed TBI cases there are among the soldiers and veterans, but estimates are expected to well exceed what the military has counted. As many of the soldiers with brain injuries have received multiple brain injuries through exposure to IED’s and other aspects of battle, the post-injury follow-up becomes critical to identifying the resources and supports which are needed by these men and women in the years post-injury and as they age.
Currently, Congress has delayed funding this project and the study itself is limited in its scope which will exclude some facets and minimizes “mild” brain injury and associated cognitive and behavioral health consequences.
Recently I came into contact with a veteran with a TBI from the first Gulf War who helped to highlight the issues we face in today’s veteran population returning with Traumatic Brain Injury. As the years have passed his cognitive and mental health problems have mounted. If we fast forward to our current soldiers and veterans with brain injuries, what will we see in the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years for them? An underfunded study which is limited in its scope will not be of assistance in addressing their needs, now or in the future. We will see these men and women in the courts, in our prison system, among the homeless, in psychiatric hospitals and struggling with issues related to their brain injury.
Click here to read an article about the study to better understand the issues faced by veterans.