National Brain Injury Awareness Month, observed in March, is an appropriate time to remember our Veterans, particularly the wounds they have sustained—both visible and invisible—through their service.
Nearly 1 in 5 among the 2.5 million service members and Veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2003 have sustained at least one traumatic brain injury. The overwhelming majority of these are classified as mild. VA stands committed to improve the lives and long-term health of Veterans with TBI, using a multipronged approach. The effort involves preclinical (lab) research; the development of appropriate therapies; treatment of symptoms such as pain, anxiety, sensory impairment, and memory loss; reintegration back into the community; and caregiver support. This work involves extensive partnerships between VA and both governmental and nongovernmental agencies, and the results can be expected to help not only Veterans, but all Americans affected by this condition.
Transformation Transformation is a powerful word. It denotes rapid, revolutionary change. It is an appropriate word to describe VA research on TBI in the past decade or so. As our nation came to recognize the scope of the TBI problem among service members and Veterans, and as we came to understand, in particular, how many of these brave men and women had incurred “invisible wounds” as a result of their exposure to blasts, VA transformed its small, unfocused TBI research program into a leading, Veteran-centric effort that works closely with many partners, such as the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health.