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The Military’s Unfulfilled Promise: Traumatic Brain Injuries(TBI) and the Forgotten Warriors

Updated: Apr 13


Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have become the silent battle scars of our modern warriors. As soldiers exit the military, they carry with them not only the weight of their service but also the invisible burden of brain trauma. This paper sheds light on how the military has let down these brave men and women, failing to adequately address their needs and provide essential support during their transition to civilian life.


TBIs, often referred to as the “signature wounds” of recent wars, haunt our veterans long after the battlefield dust settles. Despite advances in medical science, the military’s response to these injuries remains inadequate. Let us explore the ways in which our warriors are left grappling with the aftermath of brain trauma.

The Diagnosis Gap:

  1. Underdiagnosis:

  • The military medical system struggles to identify TBIs accurately.

  • Many veterans return home with lingering health problems, unaware that their cognitive difficulties and memory lapses stem from brain injuries sustained during combat.

  • The failure to diagnose exacerbates their suffering, leaving them without proper treatment.

  1. The Promise of Mild TBI:

  • Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is often dismissed as inconsequential.

  • Soldiers are told to “shake it off” and soldier on, even when their brains are silently screaming for help.

  • The military’s promise to care for its wounded falls short when it comes to these invisible wounds.

The Transition Struggle:

  1. From Camouflage to Civvies:

  • Exiting the military is a seismic shift. Soldiers leave behind their structured world and camaraderie.

  • For those with TBIs, this transition is even more daunting. They face a new battle: navigating civilian life with compromised cognitive abilities.

  1. Inadequate Support:

  • Veterans encounter bureaucratic mazes when seeking assistance.

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is overwhelmed, and wait times for evaluations and treatment stretch into eternity.

  • Many soldiers fall through the cracks, their brain injuries undetected or untreated.

The Numbers Don’t Lie:

  1. 500,000 and Counting:

  • Since 2000, nearly 500,000 troops have been diagnosed with some form of TBI related to military service.

  • These numbers represent real lives, real struggles, and real families left to cope with the aftermath.

  1. Self-Inflicted Brain Injuries:

  • Recent research reveals disturbing damage caused by troops’ own equipment.

  • Soldiers firing heavy weaponry within safety limits suffer cognitive deficits and memory problems.

  • Blast exposure issues are often tied to troops’ own weapons, not external forces.

The Way Forward:

  1. Urgent Action Needed:

  • Senators have demanded answers from the Defense Department regarding self-inflicted brain injuries.

  • The military must expedite monitoring and implement better documentation of potential brain injuries.

  • Blast gauges should collect data on concussive blasts from firearms.

  1. Holistic Care:

  • Comprehensive rehabilitation programs must address both physical and cognitive aspects.

  • Early intervention and ongoing support are crucial.

  • The military owes its wounded warriors more than platitudes—it owes them a lifeline.


As we honor our veterans, let us not forget those whose wounds remain hidden beneath their uniforms. The military’s duty extends beyond the battlefield; it must stand by its promise to care for those who sacrificed their well-being for our nation. Let us bridge the gap between camouflage and civvies, ensuring that no soldier faces brain trauma alone.



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