More than 2,500 veterans take Legion survey

As of Feb. 20, more than 2,500 veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have participated in The American Legion’s online survey that seeks to determine the effectiveness of treatments for these two conditions.

During the Legion’s month-long survey, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report on Feb. 13, "Gulf War and Health: Long-Term Effects of Blast Injuries," that examines how blast exposure increases the likelihood of developing TBI, PTSD and other long-term health ailments among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The American Legion welcomed IOM’s report as a much-needed study that will help to determine what research is needed in the area of long-term health problems caused by blast injuries.

Dr. Jeff Greenberg of Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), which helped the Legion develop its current survey, said the IOM report "is a critically important document" with findings that indicate "there is precious little information about the effects of blast exposure over the long term.

"This is unsurprising. Blast exposure is a highly complex phenomena. Findings of the report indicate the need for greater resources to address this health challenge."

Similarly, Greenberg said, the online survey The American Legion and DRC are conducting attempts to address gaps in the scientific understanding of veterans’ health-care experiences who have been exposed to psychological or head trauma.

With the information currently being collected from veterans by the Legion, Greenberg said, "The hope is that this information will lead to a more pronounced understanding of services received, aimed at supporting the goal of improved quality of care and better standardization of care."

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requested IOM to conduct the study and is reviewing the report to determine whether any changes to its health-care policies need to be made.

Recommendations for VA from the report include to:

  • Create a database to link Department of Defense (DoD) records for troops with blast-related injuries to VA health records in order to facilitate long-term health care needs.
  • Create a blast-injury registry to serve as a foundation for long-term studies of blast-exposed veterans.
  • Develop clinical practice guidelines for blast-related injuries other than PTSD and TBI.
  • Encourage health-care providers to ask veterans the question, "Have you been exposed to a blast?"
  • The report also recommends that DoD develop and deploy data-collection technologies that measure blast components and their characteristics in real time.

"In the case of veterans with PTSD and TBI," Greenberg said, "there should be little doubt about the importance of continued research efforts aimed at improving health care, and ultimately long-term health outcomes, for those who have so nobly served this nation. Scientists, practitioners and those who would serve veterans are not at the end of the journey. Rather, there is a long distance to travel."

Long-term health effects from blast injuries include cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular function, substance-abuse disorders, chronic pain, long-term hearing damage, and muscle or bone impairment such as osteo-arthritis.

Since 2001, about 3,000 servicemembers have been killed and 32,000 have been wounded by blasts from improvised explosive devices.

The American Legion created a committee to research treatments for TBI and PTSD that are being used by VA, DoD and the private sector. It issued a report on its findings and recommendations, "The War Within," in September 2013.

The Legion’s current online survey is the latest initiative in its continuing research on treatments and therapies for TBI and PTSD.

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JOE KUREK SKCS,USN (RETIRED)

February 25, 2014 - 4:51pm

I JUST COMPLETED THIS SURVEY AND WANT TO FORWARD DR. JEFF GREENBERG COPIES OF THE INCIDENT THAT OCCURED TO ME IN VIETNAM IN 1969-70. I NOW HAVE PTSD. I WAS PRESCRIBED FLOUOXITINE BY DR. FRONTERA AT TAMPA VA. A YEAR AGO, AND HAVE NOT HAD ANY NIGHTMARES, SCREAMING EVENTS, FOR THE PAST YEAR. GO TO "ENEMY ACTION AT DONG TAM" I WAS THERE FOR 6 MONTHS AND THAT NIGHT WE TOOK A DIRECT HIT.

Buckfindernls

February 23, 2014 - 11:13am

I am a Vietnam ERA Veteran dealing with non-combat PTSD. I sometimes, usually, feel like when I try to tell other vets, friends, family about why I am the way I am they don't understand that PTSD is not just from Combat related trauma. My own comes mainly from dealing with 2 fatal crashes while working as a Chinook Mechanic in Germany in the early 70's. Picking up pieces from a training crash is no different than picking up pieces from a shot down ship. The stress of a traumatic event is really the same. There is of course a separate combat related part that I won't ever feel, but my pain is mostly the same as yours. I want to go to PTSD group therapy at the VA but I am afraid of not being accepted by the others as an equal, not counting their combat experience of course. But I too have lost buddies to war, crashes, etc. when I got to know someone in Germany and came to find out later that they were killed in Vietnam it hurt as much as anything, The feeling of guilt still plagues me when I get depressed and think about why did I never get called. I was ready to do my duty as a soldier but never got called. In 24 years of service in RA, NG, and Reserves from 1970 till I retired in 2000 I came within days of being sent but always in the end something changed to stop our orders and or send others. Please all of you combat vets, and others, don't push us away, we're all still brothers and sisters of the military. Robert K. "A veteran - whether Active Duty, Retired, National Guard or Reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount "up to and including my life". That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand that." - Unknown

DDM

February 20, 2014 - 5:35pm

What happened to the Farming-out of Claims to other States Sub-Stations that was to speed -up the Claims process according to the Head-Shed Representative that appeared before the Washington Investigative Board, IT NOT WORKING, My Claim requesting a increase of Rating, or, (IU)was submitted April 2013, VA states a completetion date of July, 2015, thats progress??.

M Hurt

February 20, 2014 - 2:42pm

I'm just glad that I retired because the VA is moving like pond water on my claim.

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