Veterans Need Better Care for Brain Injuries

Injured brains need quick, intensive, and thorough treatment from a team of experts. Ask any neurologist or other traumatic brain injury (TBI) expert when treatment should begin after someone suffers a brain injury, and the answer will be the same: As soon as possible.  According to an amazing and disturbing article in the Raleigh News & Observer, it appears that the Veterans Administration (VA) might be ignoring that advice.
“Nearly 30,000 veterans have suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – an estimated 2,000 of them severe enough to put warriors into comas or leave them with severe disabilities. Yet eight years into the wars, testimony before Congress shows veterans still suffer yawning gaps in coverage for what has become the conflicts’ signature wound.”   (News & Observer, 5/23/2010)
Brain injuries are easy to ignore because they don’t show on the outside–a person can suffer devastating injury with no outward signs. And it is difficult to quantify the symptoms that brain injury sufferers report most often: memory loss, attention deficits, headaches, balance problems, dizziness, and mood disorders. Caregivers also report personality changes and and an inability to control emotions. That’s what happened to former Army Apc. Adam Pittman, one of the veterans interviewed for the article:
“…part of Pittman’s brain has gone dormant, and on most days, he can’t think straight. He leaves the room and forgets what he was searching for. He gets migraines so piercing that his right eye wanders. Anger comes easily, inspiring rages that sometimes have his wife terrified for herself and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter.”
And yet, the military makes it difficult, if not impossible, for its brain-injured vets to receive the care they need. For example, Pittman waited a year to get a brain scan… and the VA repeated denied the request for a brain scan for the son of Karen Bohlinger, wife of Montana Lt. Governor John Bohlinger. What does it take for a vet to get treatment? According to U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem, the top Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee: “It requires someone screaming and fighting on behalf of that soldier.”
At HensonFuerst, we believe the News & Observer article deserves nationwide–make that worldwide–attention. Maybe then our war heros, the men and women who sacrificed their minds and bodies for their country, will get the medical attention they need. Our brain injury team–led by Thomas Henson, Director of the HensonFuerst Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Division–knows the financial struggle faced by every person with TBI, and by caregivers and families.
Our mission is to give voice to those who have not yet been heard… to help fight for the rights of those who fought for our rights… and to provide legal information about traumatic brain injury. (To learn more, please visit our TBI web page:  If you have questions, HensonFuerst has answers.
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