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Congress Questions Military Leaders on Suicides, Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on June 26, 2010

AIG, CNA, ACE remember this, it WILL come back to haunt you:

It is important to diagnose mild traumatic brain injury and quickly provide treatment for any lingering effects, according to the Pentagon’s own experts.

Thank you T Miller and D Zwerdling for your efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senators pressed senior military leaders today to improve their efforts to address traumatic brain injuries, suicide and other wounds suffered by soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Responding to what he called “disconcerting” reports by NPR and ProPublica, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the military needed to better address the wide range of medical and behavioral problems affecting troops.

Earlier this month, we reported [2] that the military was failing to diagnose and adequately treat troops with brain injuries. Since 2002, official military figures show more than 115,000 soldiers have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries, also called concussions, which leave no visible scars but can cause lasting problems with memory, concentration and other cognitive functions.

But the unpublished studies that we obtained and the experts that we talked to said that military screens were missing tens of thousands of additional cases. We also talked to soldiers at one of the military’s largest bases [3], who complained of trouble getting treatment.

“I am greatly concerned about the increasing number of troops returning from combat with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries, and the number of those troops who may have experienced concussive injuries that were never diagnosed,” Levin, chairman of the committee, said as he opened today’s hearing [4].

Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, said the Army had made strides in identifying soldiers at risk of committing suicide, setting up new treatment centers and deploying a new system of “telemental health services,” allowing soldiers to talk with counselors by computer video chat programs.

Chiarelli’s remarks were echoed by other senior military commanders at the hearing from the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

“Our success notwithstanding, we still have much more to do,” said Chiarelli, who has emerged as the Army’s point man on mental health issues. “We face an Army-wide problem that will be only be solved by the coordinated efforts of our commanders, leaders, soldiers and program managers and health providers. This is a holistic problem with holistic solutions and that is how we’re approaching it.”

Chiarelli acknowledged that the Army continues to have problems with properly diagnosing soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries, saying that it was an emerging area of medicine. And he acknowledged that soldiers at bases throughout the Army have sometimes had trouble receiving treatment for mild traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.

Chiarelli took issue with our reporting, however. He said the NPR and ProPublica reports were wrong to blame military doctors for failing to diagnose the problem, or to accuse senior military officials of not taking the issue seriously. He also said that NPR and ProPublica had tried to draw a distinction between traumatic brain injury, or TBI, and post-traumatic stress, or PTS, two conditions which frequently occur together.

“I think the great disservice that NPR did to everyone was to try to isolate TBI from PTS. And that is just not possible,” Chiarelli said. “The co-morbidity of these two is what’s giving us the difficulty today. And I also think that they did a disservice when they indicated that PTS is a psychological problem. It’s not just at a psychological problem. It is a physical injury that occurs.”

Chiarelli did not cite any factual errors in the stories and we stand by our reporting. But we also think he is mischaracterizing our reporting, which was based on dozens of interviews with senior military researchers, commanders and soldiers, and thousands of pages of unpublished studies, e-mails and medical records.

First, we did address the overlap of TBI and PTSD in our stories: “To be sure, brain injuries and PTSD sometimes share common symptoms and co-exist in soldiers, brought on by the same terrifying events,” we wrote.

We also did not downplay the seriousness of PTSD — a wound which NPR has reported on extensively in past stories [5].

We found several instances in which military doctors expressed skepticism about mild traumatic brain injury and its effects. Dr. Charles Hoge, one of the Army’s senior health advisers, referred to the “illusory demands” of mild traumatic brain injury in an opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine last year. In an April 2010 e-mail that we obtained, he wrote: “What’s the harm in missing the diagnosis of mild TBI?” In an interview, Hoge told us that he was concerned with treating soldiers’ symptoms, no matter the cause.

We also turned up extensive evidence that military doctors weren’t diagnosing mild traumatic brain injuries, both on the battlefield and when troops came home. Battlefield medics, overwhelmed by life-threatening wounds, can miss the signs of concussions. Screening tools now in place often fail to catch soldiers who have suffered concussions. Soldiers often try to hide their symptoms to return to battle with their comrades.

One of the Army’s senior neuropsychologists told us of examining five soldiers who had survived a rocket attack in Iraq last year. Medical staff had treated their visible wounds, but failed to diagnose them as suffering from mild traumatic brain injury — even though they were suffering “classic” symptoms, according to Lt. Col. Mike Russell.

It is important to diagnose mild traumatic brain injury and quickly provide treatment for any lingering effects, according to the Pentagon’s own experts. While the majority of soldiers recover quickly from concussions, some report lasting mental and physical problems. Studies show that such soldiers can be helped by providing cognitive rehabilitative therapy, an intensive program to retrain the brain to perform mental tasks.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., asked Chiarelli several questions about the military’s efforts to improve how it diagnoses traumatic brain injury. Afterwards, he said that he appreciated Chiarelli’s efforts, but planned to continue pressing Army officials on the issue.

Udall “remains concerned about the impact of TBI and PTSD on our service members,” Tara Trujillo, a Udall spokeswoman. “As discussed at the hearing, there is much still to learn, different approaches to take and ways to continue to improve.”

After the hearing, Levin said he was convinced that the services were trying to properly diagnose mild traumatic brain injury.

“I remain concerned about the diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries, and especially of mild traumatic brain injuries, but it is not for lack of the services trying to do the best they can with existing science, tools, and methods,” Levin said in a statement. “There is still much to be learned in both the military and civilian medical environments about the diagnosis, treatment, and care of traumatic brain injury, and its relationship to other combat-related injuries such as post traumatic stress. I believe each of the services is taking the issues of detection, tracking, and follow-up care very seriously, but there is still work to be done.”

Read the Original Story here

One Response to “Congress Questions Military Leaders on Suicides, Traumatic Brain Injury”

  1. Superman said

    Get a PET scan !!! IF you have to pay for it yourself get it. That will be un-disputable proof that these scumbag insurance companies will not be able to defend against. Even the V.A. fails to give Veterans PET Scans… because it proves without a doubt of the injury.

    What they want to do is give you a MRI or CT scan this does nothing and will show nothing more than if your scull has been deformed… you can look at yourself and know that. But to know how much brain damage or function is going on the key is a PET Scan.

    C.N.A. has admitted that PTSD and TBI are interrelated! Many have PTSD and can function, “hiding” the symptoms and even continuing to operate for years. Unfortunately the symptoms of PTSD are severely injuring the soldiers & contractors but they can still function. Upon suffering a TBI it causes that individual the inability to mask those issues from PTSD, resulting in severe exasperation of the PTSD and its symptoms. Therefore the TBI is the more serious injury.

    I read somewhere that 90% of the folks diagnosed with PTSD actually have a TBI. The symptoms over lap. The medical community knows what to do to but continue to fail to treat the injuries. You read that there is “Really no treatment for TBI” well let me tell you that’s BullS**t. First of all let me break it down for you.

    The TBI makes the PTSD worse, The TBI causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea, The TBI causes Pituitary Gland dysfunctions, which results in the lack of production of Vitamin D and Testosterone and B12. TBI also can cause seizures, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

    So lets break it down, knowing from basic research on the internet from numerous medical organizations there are undoubtedly connections so why are TBI patients not being screened for all these issues especially when they display the symptoms? Hell, TBI patients are not even being screened for TBI.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs are just as bad as AIG and CNA the V.A. are giving the soldiers ridiculous tests for example

    Apple, Orange, Tomatoes… now what did I say.

    If you remember this then the V.A. says “Oh you don’t have a TBI or maybe you may have a Mild TBI” they just don’t care. Go get a PET Scan that shows Severe damage and look at the reaction from the V.A. shock, amazement, any explanation why the incorrect diagnosis, you will receive nothing and then you will receive NO treatment.

    It is pretty easy to connect the dots. I just did.

    The hormone test is needed to display your low levels of Vitamin D, B12 or Testosterone that are essential in your diet. Just read about the slue of serious medical conditions related to the lack of these three items. All because of the damage to the Pituitary Gland from the TBI.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs, Aig, C.N.A all do not care they want you to die!

    They do not care.

    If they didn’t want you to die they would be treating and taking care of the TBI patients and they simply do not. Therefore you must take your treatment and care into your own hands… ask for the tests, demand for the tests to prove all your conditions, and then and maybe only then will they begin treatment.

    Remember the insurance company will deny diagnoses or any type of treatment that could prove your condition.

    They will attempt to say “You were never in any danger”

    Let me tell you anyone from a “Mail Clerk” to a “Cook” was in danger of rocket attacks and as anyone who served in a war zone clearly know that these folks in most cases are in more danger than the front line troops.
    As a soldier you would know if you were to attack the enemy what do you attack first? Your logistics. Your communications. Your support network.
    Guess what C.N.A & Aig that’s what our current enemy is doing, attacking our Support, Logistic, and Communication support. Lets break it down for these retards at C.N.A. and AIG I guess this is directed at their lawyers, example number
    1, Logistics means a truck convoy of food to support the troops. They enemy will attack and kill anyone they can and steal the food or supplies to use for themselves.
    Example number
    2, random rocket attacks, shooting as many rockets or mortars into the Green Zone randomly in the effort to obtain as many Causalities as they can. Therefore its clear there is no, “Safe Zone” no one is danger free. Humm Iraq and Afghanistan are listed officially a “War Zone” that is the entire country. The Red zone and Green Zone are both within that War Zone.
    I believe that is self explanatory.

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