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240,000 Gi's Suffer Traumatic Brain Injuries In Todays Wars


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Several news items about the GOP plan to gut VA health care for our vet's. The most prevalent injury suffered by our hero's is traumatic brain injury 240,000 and growing, and the GOP says sucks to be you, to frigging bad.

 

 

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/12/28/gop-looks-at-cutting-veterans-health-benefits-for-2011-session-to-fulfill-pledge

 

http://www.vetvoice.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=4695

 

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/612665/republicans_want_to_kick_1.3_million_vets_off_va_health-care_to_save_the_cost_of_keeping_troops_in_iraq_and_afghanistan_for_13_days/

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never ceases to amaze me that the poorest of the poor get sucked into supporting the GOP, enlisting for military service, etc.

 

the propaganda machine in this country is finely tuned and frighteningly effective.

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That is flat out treasonous .

 

Me thinks your head count of 240,000 is somewhat misleading, I didn't see anything in your articles to support this outrageous figure. What the heck could be worth that much carnage ? They are in fact rising since Obama has been in office, however I found that although they rose considerably in 2010 ....

 

 

Afghanistan ".....All told, 268 U.S. troops were killed by the improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in 2010, about as many as in the three previous years combined, according to the figures, obtained by The Washington Post. More than 3,360 troops were injured, an increase of 178 percent over the year before....."

 

Afghanistan: US Casualties from IEDs Up 60% in 2010: Report

 

Iraq Here's a better one shows total wounded at just under 34,000 ...

 

Iraq Casualties

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Honesty is as hard to find in the news media as it is in politics. I do not agree with it, but they are trying to cut benefits for the "rich" if their issues are not service related. Military benefits should not be income related. Also, the govs definition oh "rich" and our definition are two different animals.

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The most prevalent injury suffered by our hero's is traumatic brain injury 240,000 and growing, and the GOP says sucks to be you, to frigging bad.

 

I think you meant PTSD(Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), a mental condition, not brain/head injury. PTSD is what the article sites as the most prevalent injury.

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My bad I was wrong on number of traumatic brain injuries, its more.

 

Quote;

"According to a report from the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, an estimated 360,000 veterans from the Iraq-Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury or TBI. Some say that thousands more may be diagnosed with this injury."

 

 

http://www.capecodonline.com/aphttp://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-03-04-braininjuries_N.htmps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090510/NEWS/905100329/-1/NEWSMAP

 

By Karen Jeffrey

kjeffrey@capecodonline.com

May 10, 2009

 

He struggles to his feet, greeting visitors with a smile and outstretched hand.

 

There aren't too many 21-year-olds today who stand as a gesture of respect when a guest enters a room.

 

Vincent Mannion does.

 

And this reflects the manners taught him as a child by his mother Maura. Despite debilitating war wounds that have made it necessary for him to re-learn just about everything else, the manners remain intact, as does a sense of humor that shines through his dark blue eyes.

 

Mannion has what is called the signature war wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — a traumatic brain injury.

 

A private first class in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, Mannion was injured one month into his tour of duty in Iraq. He recently returned to his family's home after two years of hospitalization and rehabilitation, exceeding the expectations of those who treated him. Many of the caregivers credit his determination and his family's fierce support as reasons for the successes. But this does not mean the war is won.

 

Chances are this young man, who played football for Barnstable High School, who wanted a military career, to attend college, to marry and have a family of his own, will never be 100 percent independent now.

 

He had two strokes following multiple brain surgeries. He lives with two specially-molded plastic caps forming the cranium beneath his scalp. A multitude of metal screws keep his left arm together. Shrapnel forms a small bulge beneath his lower lip. And on his left arm and shoulder scar tissue formed over what resemble shark bites, the consequences of an explosion.

 

He has had to re-learn how to swallow, eat, walk, shower and brush his teeth.

 

The fact Mannion can talk is described as nothing short of a miracle by some of the medical people who helped him throughout the two-year-journey from a battlefield in Iraq to hospitals in rehabilitation centers in Maryland, Florida, Washington, D.C., and Boston.

 

A son's perspective

 

"This is hard on me but more hard on my parents," Mannion said, sitting at the dining room table in the family's home off Phinney's Lane. "My parents are my heroes."

 

This is poignant sentiment expressed through carefully formed words from a young man whose cane leans against a wall in his bedroom.

 

Nearby, a Bronze Star, Purple Heart and numerous other medals and ribbons rest in velvet-lined boxes stacked on a shelf. On one wall are framed citations for his bravery and service; on another are pictures of celebrities, high-ranking military officers and politicians who visited his bedside while he was hospitalized.

 

Elsewhere in his room and throughout the house are photographs of Mannion with his sister and parents, both before and after the war wounds that changed their lives.

 

Mannion pulls out a photograph that shows his sister Colleen laying next to him in a bed at Bethesda Naval Hospital when he was in a coma and his family kept up a continuous flow of encouraging words into his ears. They seldom left his side except to eat.

 

"This is my favorite picture," he said, knocking a semi-curled hand — a byproduct of the strokes — against the photo.

 

"He is my miracle child and he brings happiness into our home," said his mother Maura Brodeur, 49.

 

"He is my best friend, my brother and I can't imagine life without him," said sister Colleen Mannion-Brodeur, 22, who left her job in Boston to stay with him in the early months of his hospitalization.

 

The day Vincent came home was "the happiest day of our lives," said Jeffrey Brodeur, 45, who although not the siblings' biological father has been in their lives since they were in elementary school.

 

Mannion makes a point about this. "You make sure that says 'father,'" he said firmly. "Not stepfather. Jeffrey is the only real father I have."

 

Start of a career

 

A 2006 graduate of Barnstable High School who shed his cap and gown in a hurry to join the Army, Mannion signed up with friend Jared Wardell of Mashpee, who also ended up in the 82nd Airborne and is still in Iraq.

 

Mannion never doubted he wanted to be in the military, inspired in large part by his parents' military service. Jeffrey Brodeur is an Army veteran who served and was injured in post-war Korea. He is national director of the Korean War Veterans Association. Maura Brodeur is a Navy veteran who worked for the Veterans Administration for three years.

 

Affectionately described by his mother as "a bit of a daredevil child," Mannion's goal was always to be a paratrooper. With the enthusiasm and strength of his youth, he completed basic training then went to paratrooper school.

 

"When he did his first night jump, he called us. He was so excited," says his sister. "He said he wasn't scared at all."

 

Vincent chuckles and nods his head. "I love parachuting. What's there to be afraid of?"

 

His first assignment after training was to serve with the 82nd Airborne honor guard that travels the country attending funerals of fallen comrades. It was sobering duty, an emotionally tough job. But it was one Mannion took on willingly.

 

"You have to stand by your buddies," he said of that time.

 

The posting to Iraq came in late February 2007. His division was first sent to Kuwait where a series of sandstorms delayed their entry into Iraq. Finally in March the orders came.

 

Mannion and his fellow soldiers went to Tikrit, a city of about 240,000 north of Bagdad and at that time, a stronghold for insurgents. On March 11 — a date Jeffrey Brodeur has since had tattooed on his back — Mannion was on his way back to camp after being on patrol for 48 straight hours.

 

Someone noticed trip wires running across the road and the troops stopped to investigate and disable the wires. Mannion, led by team leader Sgt. Daniel Woodcock of Glennallen, Ala., headed off to search for insurgents in a nearby building.

 

Woodcock kicked the door open, and that's the last Mannion remembers. An explosion caused the building to collapse on Woodcock, who died at the scene. Mannion was thrown back by heat and force. He did not feel the shrapnel that ripped his belly open and took chunks out of his left arm and shoulder. He was unconscious and barely alive.

 

Traumatic brain Injury

 

Mannion was rushed to a field hospital, arriving in Balad, Iraq within 18 minutes of being loaded onto a helicopter. There he was stabilized and in short order put on a plane to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. It was about 5 a.m. on the Cape when the ringing telephone awakened his parents.

 

"I didn't have any sense of what the call would be. It just didn't enter my mind that it would be about Vincent. He hadn't been there long enough," said his mother.

 

An official from the Defense Department told them that Vincent was gravely wounded and on his way to Germany. The tenor and tone of the conversation left the Brodeurs anticipating the worst.

 

The wounds to Mannion's abdomen, arm and shoulder were serious, but paled in comparison to the invisible wound — the brain injury.

 

Think shaken baby syndrome. Think of blows to the head in an uneven boxing match. In these injuries the brain is bounced around the interior of the skull. Blood vessels rupture. Nerves are ripped away from tissue. Swelling occurs. Cells die. And so can the patient, especially if there is nowhere for the brain to expand.

 

"His brain was scrambled," Jeffrey Brodeur said bluntly.

 

According to a report from the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, an estimated 360,000 veterans from the Iraq-Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with traumatic brain injury or TBI. Some say that thousands more may be diagnosed with this injury.

 

By some Pentagon estimates, 60 percent of those serving in Iraq/Afghanistan have had some sort of injury due to explosions. The full impact of the injury may not be immediately diagnosed or recognized because there is no obvious exterior sign of injury.

 

Fewer dead, more wounded

 

Compared with previous wars, Americans wounded in Iraq/Afghanistan have a 90 percent chance of surviving battlefield injuries due to advances in medical treatment and technology. According to an article in the Dec. 9, 2005 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, 24 percent of casualties during the first Persian Gulf War resulted in death. The death rate now is about 10 percent, and many attribute the improvement to how the military now responds to war wounds.

 

Writing in the NEJM, Dr. Atul Gawande, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said the military now uses Forward Surgical Teams consisting of 20 medical people including a surgeon. The teams move with and behind the troops. Within an hour, they can raise a functioning hospital with four ventilator-equipped beds and two operating tables.

 

The improvements in medical care means fewer fatalities but they also mean more soldiers coming home with severe and debilitating injuries.

 

Mannion was one of those saved through the military's revised medical protocols. His parents were told that he would be returned to the states as soon as the pressure in his brain stabilized.

 

Because of that, it was decided flying them to Germany to be at his bedside served little purpose. Still, a telephone call from Congressman Randy Neugebauger, a Texas Republican, raised their hopes.

 

"He was on the Medevac from Germany with Vincent," Jeffrey Brodeur said. "Just the fact someone had seen our son alive helped."

 

Three days after arriving in Germany, Mannion was shipped home. "As soon as Vincent was in the air, we got a call. They put us on a plane for Washington," he said.

 

The plane tickets, along with accommodations for the family at the Naval Hospital were paid for by the Department of Defense, as they are for all families of wounded who request such.

 

Mannion's family was eager to see him, but anxious. Nothing, however, could have prepared them for the person they saw in a hospital bed.

 

"He wasn't the son I knew. He wasn't the son I sent to war," his mother said.

 

"He was in a coma, there were bolts coming out of his neck. He had a tracheotomy, there were tubes everywhere. The only movement was his chest going up and down because of the machine breathing for him. ... I had to hold onto something to stop myself from collapsing."

 

Mannion was in a coma for several months. He has no real memory of this time, nor of the recuperation that followed — a two-year journey that saw him moved from the Bethesda Naval Hospital to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in Boston two months after his stateside return.

 

In October he went back to Bethesda for more brain surgery, the implantation of the plastic cranium to replace two portions of his skull that doctors had removed to accommodate the brain swelling.

 

Fight for private care

 

When Mannion left Bethesda, his prognosis was a big question mark. That's the way it is with many brain injuries. Initially the military wanted to ship him to a polytrauma unit in Florida, but his father talked with other families whose children had suffered similar injuries and he researched TBI treatment.

 

He decided his son would best be served if he went to Spaulding. That way the family would be nearby and continue to play a role in Mannion's care and rehabilitation. Thus began a tough fight — to get permission and payment for Mannion to receive treatment in a private facility.

 

With the help of Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Edward Kennedy and U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, Brodeur won the argument. That he had the support of his son's doctors from Bethesda, including Lt. Col. Rocco Armonda, a surgeon at Bethesda Naval Hospital who is considered among the world's leading specialists in TBI cases, helped.

 

Jeffrey Brodeur is credited by Spaulding officials and members of Kerry's staff with paving the way for other soldiers and their families in New England who believe private specialized care is the best route for their war-injured spouses and children.

 

Jeffrey Brodeur is quick to point out private care is not necessitated because of poor quality care in the military, but because the military hospitals "have been overwhelmed with the number of patients. They weren't ready for what this war was going to bring them."

 

Bringing Mannion to Boston was "best for Vincent and best for our family. Every family is going to be a little different. What was best for us might not be best for them."

 

When Mannion arrived at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Center in August 2007 he was in what his parents describe as a vegetative state.

 

"He was minimally responsive," said Margaret McCabe, a speech pathologist at Spaulding and one of the many specialists on Mannion's rehabilitation team.

 

Therapy began immediately even though Mannion was barely aware of what went on around him. McCabe said Mannion came around gradually. His eyes began tracking people as they moved around his room. Next came moans and sounds — voluntary sounds.

 

Eventually he began to respond to commands like move. He began to verbalize responses. His sister inspired his first complete sentence and the two of them giggle as she tells the story.

 

"I moved his arm and it apparently hurt him," she said. "He said, 'Why the (expletive deleted) did you do that?' It was the nicest thing I've ever heard in my life," she said.

 

Throughout Mannion's stay at Spaulding, his treatment team from Bethesda played a role in his rehabilitation. Armonda, the doctor who performed the brain surgery at Bethesda, visited with Mannion and ran the Boston Marathon in his honor.

 

'A space of his own'

 

Mannion's return to the Cape marks the beginning of a new life for him and his family. His parents plan to revamp their home, moving their bedroom to the first floor and giving him the second floor.

 

"He's a grown man, he needs a space of his own," Jeffrey Brodeur said.

 

A mountain of paperwork covers Jeffrey Brodeur's desk as he fills out forms to ensure his son's continuing treatment. Mannion was officially discharged from the Army in March and is now a civilian, albeit a civilian with veteran's benefits, which cover some but not all of the expenses. Brodeur and his wife take their son to the Brockton VA Hospital for physical and occupational therapy twice a week.

 

Mannion's case has touched a chord in Sen. John Kerry's heart, and the senator has visited him more than once. Jeffrey Brodeur singles out Kerry's attention to his son, saying the senator has been particularly helpful.

 

Kerry credits Mannion's progress to the medical staff who treated the young war veteran, his family, and Mannion's "incredible will," he said in an e-mail response to a Cape Cod Times query.

 

"Unfortunately, there are many other young veterans like Vincent who aren't getting the same kind of care," Kerry added. "We owe every single one of them a debt of gratitude for their service and the least we can do is provide them with the quality care they so desperately need and deserve. Vincent is an example of why it is so important to keep fighting in Washington for better services for our veterans."

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Funny how the news media works. In the article from 2009 360,000 solders have TBI. An article published by NPR in 2010 and in the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Newsletter

February 2011 says:

 

"Officially, military figures say about 115,000 troops have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries since the wars began."

 

http://pascrell.house.gov/work/TBI_Newsletter_Feb%202011.pdf

 

Ether way, that is a lot of people that have been harmed. And besides, if they cut VA benefits for the Rich, as they are proposing, that is a violation of their contract and total B.S. Though they are not proposing cutting benefits for those who were injured, rich or not.

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