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Info From Winter Soldier - Part 1 - Traumatic Brain Injury

Posted by libhom Friday, March 14, 2008

I managed to catch some of Winter Soldier today on WBAI, and I thought I would share some of what I've learned.

Here is a description of Winter Soldier from the Fact Sheet.

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will give veterans and service
members the chance to speak out and share their experiences about what is really happening, day in and day out in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The four-day event in Washington, D.C. will bring together veterans and service members from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan - and present video and photographic evidence. There also will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and others to give context to the testimony.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a problem I had heard of before, but knew little about. The Winter Soldier testimony has made it clear that everyone in this country needs to know more about TBI.

According to the National Institute of of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also called acquired brain injury or simply head injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking. A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.

Two things I learned from the Winter Soldier Testimony of Adrienne Kinne:

- The symptoms of TBI and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be similar.

- The Veterans Adminstration (VA) decided not to screen returning veterans for TBI because they lacked the resources to provide treatment for the 10,000 plus vets they expected to suffer from it.

There has been sporadic coverage of Traumatic Brain Injury from the corporate media, but it tends to stay off of the front pages. For instance, there was a page B1 piece from the Washington Post on 4/08/07 called "A Shock Wave of Brain Injuries." The lead alone was scary.
This is the new physics of war. Three 155mm shells, linked together and combined with 100 pounds of Semtex plastic explosive, covered by canisters of butane or barrels of gasoline, can upend a 70-ton tank, destroy a Humvee or blow an engine block through the hood of a truck. Those deadly ingredients form the signature weapon of the war in Iraq: improvised explosive devices, known by anybody who watches the news as IEDs.

Some of the impact of these roadside bombs is brutally clear: Troops are maimed by projectiles, poisoned by clouds of bacteria-laced debris and burned by post-blast flames. But the IEDs have added a new dimension to battlefield injuries: wounds and even deaths among troops who have no external signs of trauma but whose brains have been severely damaged. Iraq has brought back one of the worst afflictions of World War I trench warfare: shell shock. The brain of a soldier exposed to a roadside bomb is shocked, truly.

About 1,800 U.S. troops, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, are now suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) caused by penetrating wounds. But neurologists worry that hundreds of thousands more -- at least 30 percent of the troops who've engaged in active combat for four months or longer in Iraq and Afghanistan -- are at risk of potentially disabling neurological disorders from the blast waves of IEDs and mortars, all without suffering a scratch.

Of course, the reality of thousands of Iraq veterans suffering untreated with a terrible medical condition because of the corruption and cruelty of the Bush regime makes one sad and angry on their behalf. It also makes any rational person a bit worried in a purely selfish sense. Is it safe to have thousands of people with untreated brain injuries here at home? Inhumanity to one group of people generally tends to bite other people in the ass.

One of the painful realities of the Iraq War is that keeping up with the news involves learning about all sorts of terrible and depressing things that one would like to avoid thinking about. As long as the war is going and as long as an Iraq veteran or an Iraqi person continues to suffer, that kind of ignorance is inexcusable.

Here is some preliminary coverage of Winter Soldier in the media.

- Democracy Now! 3/14/08

- AFP 3/13/08

- The Real News

- OpEd News

- Minneapolis City Pages 3/13/08


1 Responses to Info From Winter Soldier - Part 1 - Traumatic Brain Injury

  1. louie Says:
  2. That's an interesting post. I've found a website that can be pretty handy for overcoming post traumatic stress. Might want to give it a try at http://www.howtorelievestress.org



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