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Invisible War Wounds Lead to Traumatic Brain Injuries and Suicides

Posted on: August 16th, 2012 by Romanucci & Blandin

In a recent article in the New York Times, writer Nicholas D. Kristof reveals this startling news: more soldiers die from suicide than from enemy combat. Veterans have even worse statistics, “for every soldier killed in war this year, about 25 veterans now take their own lives.”

While suicide is horrific enough, also disturbing are those who leave the military severely disabled. Kristof says that 45% of troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are seeking compensation for their injuries, which in many cases are psychological.

Many of these mental problems can be traced to concussions suffered on the battle field. Similar to sports injuries that we’ve cited on this blog, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can lead to dramatic changes in personality. Headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dementia, and rage are often accompanying symptoms.

The article said that suicide among veterans has never been as high as it is now. Some point to the excessive time soldiers spend in combat and the rise in explosions, which lead to concussions.

While the families of mentally-disabled troops have their own challenges in helping their loved ones cope, and keeping their lives stable, the Department of Veteran Affairs is overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the demand for mental health services. The VA admits veterans have to wait an average of eight months to learn the outcome of their claims. Even more shameful, when military retire for medical reasons, it takes an average of 396 days to finalize claims.

One organization, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, suggests that Purple Hearts be awarded for the “invisible, psychological wounds of war.” Such honors would help erase the stigma of mental illness, the group says, and reinforce the heroism associated with those injuries.

In his passionate piece, Kristof says, “The military’s most valuable assets aren’t its Strykers or tanks, but the highly trained troops inside them. When a soldier is harmed by repeat concussions, hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in training are squandered. And shoddy treatment of returning soldiers will undermine recruitment and retention in the future.”

We echo those sentiments.

Published by the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin

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