During a news conference addressing Brain Injury Awareness Month, Army Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton, head of the Pentagon’s Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, estimated that “up to 360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans may have suffered brain injuries” (USA Today).
Compare that number to the estimated 9,100 soldiers that have received an actual brain injury diagnosis since the war began, and you can see where some holes need to be filled. As we’ve written about here, an active attempt to screen returning troops for brain injuries didn’t begin until last year. This means that while more injuries are being caught and treated, numerous others have undoubtedly slipped under the radar over the past eight years.
With brain injury symptoms varying widely and often paralleling those of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), it can be difficult to pinpoint those who still need to be treated if they were discharged before the screening was put into place.
Symptoms such as memory loss, difficulty sleeping, vision problems, balance issues, and mood changes should be brought to a physician’s attention as soon as possible. If you are concerned about a potentially service-related head injury, you can call the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at 800-870-9244.