Too important for just a comment. This affects YOU directly.

cross posted to Docudharma, Dailykos, Turn Maine Blue and VetVoice from Military Spouse Press,

I began writing a response to NamGuardianAngel’s article below this one,… and it became a MEGA comment.

I also realized that the information was too important to you as a military spouse to contribute as just a comment. I had to ensure it was read by the maximum number by making it a stand alone Editorial Page contribution.

Hopefully, what is discussed will never affect you personally but statistics, studies and history prove beyond any doubt that they will affect a high percentage of military spouses.

PLEASE do not wait. Take action. If not for your soldier, yourself, your family, then for the other military spouses who will be affected by this.

Our soldiers with PTSD and TBI deserve the same recognition, awards and disability compensation as our warriors with physical wounds and disabilities. If military standards for awards are written in a way that preclude them from getting such then they need to be re-written.

In each war, a new wound emerges – an injury or illness that comes to typify the conflict, says Craig Hyams, a doctor and Veterans Administration official who has done a study of war wounds. In World War I, poison gases damaged lungs. In World War II, radiation from atomic bombs caused cancer. In Korea, the intense cold led to circulation problems. And in Vietnam, Agent Orange led to skin disorders.

Military doctors describe Radhay’s injuries as the emerging signature wound of the Iraq war. And they say the wound – called traumatic brain injury – carries many consequences. Usually, if you sustain an injury of this kind in your line of work, you’d be able to enlist the help of injury attorneys and make a serious legal claim against your employer, but where do military employees stand?…

Although in this article Agent Orange is mentioned as the “signature wound” of Nam, I would argue that PTSD was as much, or more the “signature injury” of Nam.

Like PTSD, TBI often has no external wound. There are probably far more soldiers who suffer with TBI without physical wounds than with them. The article below is from the Mayo Clinic & describes TBI without external injury.

A traumatic brain injury is usually the result of a sudden, violent blow to the head. Such a blow can launch the brain on a collision course with the inside of the skull. The skull itself can often withstand a forceful external impact without fracturing. The result – an injured brain inside an intact skull – is known as a closed-head injury.…

Great progress is being made in recognizing both PTSD and TBI in our wounded warriors. Unfortunately, many times with both of these injuries the symptoms are not recognized by either the veteran or medical personnel until weeks, months or years later. It doesn’t matter when it is discovered, it should still be treated as a combat wound. Some organizations are offering screenings for those without outward signs.

Concerned that the most talked-about injury of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is being overlooked, the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain has started offering free screenings to veterans for symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury.

The hospital has begun sending out thousands of mailings to veterans’ groups, physicians, colleges and churches, encouraging service members who were exposed to roadside blasts or other head trauma to get screened for TBI. The hospital screenings are offered by phone or over the Internet and direct veterans who report symptoms of TBI to seek further evaluation at the Veterans Administration hospital in West Haven.…

Often our soldiers have both TBI and PTSD with and without bodily injury.

We need to keep pushing congress/senate/media/press to discuss/recognize these as wounds, award the appropriate medals, recognition and disability status.

It was not too long ago in our society that addictions were only discussed in private and in whispers. They were greatly stigmatized. Individuals with these were seen as weak and causing their own problem. This is now a common and accepted illness, usually without great stigmatization by those educated about this, as long as the individual seeks help and is “recovering”.

Now it is things like schizophrenia, severe depressive disorder, bi-polar, PTSD, TBI and other mental illness’ that carry a stigma and often prevent sufferers from admitting they have them.

PTSD & TBI need to be allowed to “come out of the closet”, discussed openly, lose their stigmatization and sufferers not be seen as weak creators of their own injured minds. They should also receive the same award as physically injured soldiers and also paid the disability they deserve. IF NOT US WHO SEND THIS MESSAGE, WHO?

If a major government agency recognizes TBI and PTSD as disabilities then our VA and DoD should follow suit. There IS a government agency that recognizes them and pays disability for them. I know, TBI was added to the list around 2001 and it is the reason I receive SSDI payments, and also because I can’t work due to it and the resulting mental health issues which almost all TBI suffers have. TBI & PTSD are on the list of ONLY 14 recognized conditions by Social Security Disability:

There are 14 types of conditions recognized by the Social Security Administration, including:

   * Musculoskeletal System impairments and other conditions involving the bones and joints

   * Sensory and Speech impairments generally involving the eyes and ears

   * Respiratory impairments that effect people’s ability to breathe, including asthma and various lung disorders

   * Cardiovascular (heart) conditions

   * Digestive impairments such as malnutrition, ulcers and other conditions

   * Genitourinary conditions, including kidney disease and other disorders

   * Hematological disorders such as anemia and other blood system abnormalities

   * Skin Disorders

   * Endocrine System conditions, including diabetes and thyroid disorders

   * Impairments Affecting Multiple Body Systems such as non-mosaic Down Syndrome

   * Neurological Disorders such as epilepsy, brain tumors, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS)

   * Mental disorders

   * Malignant Neoplastic Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malignancies, and cancer

   * Immune System Disorders, including lupus and scleroderma…

Like in a court of law, this shows precedence by a government agency. Precedence is a very powerful factor in a court of law and it could/should be in this situation. We should all stress this precise precedence to our congressmen and senators regarding our soldiers with these same conditions from war. If civilians can receive disability compensation for these then surely a wounded soldier should.

Millions of Americans receive SSDI (social security disability insurance) payments for these recognized conditions.

THE VA/DoD SHOULD RECOGNIZE THESE AND PAY DISABILITY FOR THEM ALSO. A key to this happening is DOCTORS diagnosis taking precedence over any desk jockey, commander, upper brass or anyone else overriding doctors diagnosis. The practice of doctors diagnosis being overridden regarding PTSD and TBI are currently very common.

YOU can take this article by me (you have my perimssion) or the article by NGA (I am sure she will authorize it) or one/all of the articles we linked to and email it to your congressman and senators.

It is simple. Put your zip code in the block on the right column here on MSP titled “Government Contacts” and both your congressman and senators websites will pop up. Go to their section, “Contact”, there will be an email section, fill out your information and cut and paste any one of the three mentioned in the prior paragraph. Your information will only need to be typed in once as it will be transferred to the next congressman or senator.

YOU CAN DO IT NOW! Remember, 20% (at least) of military spouses soldiers will return with PTSD and an untold number with TBI. (65% according to The House Veterans Affairs Committee)…

I ABSOLUTELY support an award for these conditions. Awards don’t pay the bills. Soldiers with these conditions as recognized by a doctor, MUST receive disability compensation to support military spouses and soldiers families. The odds are quite high that a soldier with PTSD and/or TBI will not be able to hold gainful employment in the civilian world.

IF YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DO THIS, CONTACT ME. My email is on my profile.