– Every time the VA announces some improvement in benefits for veterans, the media caries the other side’s view: Give our veterans nothing –
By David Isenberg at Partnership for a Secure America
It has been nearly two months since I last wrote about the health of American military personnel and veterans so let’s look at it again. The news, unfortunately, isn’t any better.
First, let’s look at the past. Today the Los Angeles times reports that researchers have found that soldiers who suffered brain injuries can develop seizures decades — as long as 35 years — after the initial injury.
A study published in the journal Neurology found that among a group of 199 Vietnam veterans, about 13% developed post-traumatic epilepsy more than 14 years after they had suffered a penetrating head wound, such as a gunshot injury or shrapnel that entered brain tissue. Penetrating head injuries are generally linked with a higher risk for epilepsy than other types of head injuries, such as concussions.
It is unclear how the study relates to combatants returning from Iraq and Afghanistan today, the authors said. The Vietnam veterans in the study suffered from penetrating brain injuries, which are rarer in soldiers fighting in the current conflicts because helmets have improved. Today, closed-head injuries (where the brain is not penetrated) are more common, in part because of the helmet improvements and partly because of a change in the weaponry used in modern warfare.
Nonetheless, Grafman said, the study underscores the importance of long-term follow-up for military civilians who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
“It’s clear that this is life-long,” he said.
Now, let’s look at the present. Suicides among military personnel are up. Salon reportedlast week on the suicide of Marine Sgt. Tom Bagosy at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. The article noted that last year, 52 Marines committed suicide. The suicide rate among Marines has doubled since 2005, and the Corps has the highest suicide rate in the military. Please read the entire article here