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According to the Department of Defense, 17,672 service members were diagnosed with a traumatic brain (TBI) injury in 2016, which is also classified as a “signature wound” of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Service members who suffer from TBIs are eligible to receive VA treatment and file for disability benefits.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury, or a TBI, is an injury caused by external force that alters brain function in some capacity.

External forces in combat include various possible situations, like IED blasts, vehicular crashes, or an object penetrating the brain.

Alteration in brain function can be defined in many ways, since symptoms can vary based on the service member’s situation and part of the brain damaged.

Symptoms

– Behavior changes (like aggression, irritability, or apathy)

– Inability to concentrate or focus

– Moderate to severe headaches

– Dizziness, problems walking, or light sensitivity

– Memory problems

Diagnosis and Treatment

Due to a particular incident, some service members might be immediately screened for a TBI. However, there are cases where a TBI is present but the service member isn’t screened until because they do not acknowledge or think their symptoms are out of the ordinary.

The severity of a TBI is determined by the length of the loss of consciousness, length of memory loss or disorientation, and how response the individual was after the injury.

Through the VA, service members can not only get treatment for their TBI at rehabilitation programs or local VA Medical Centers, but they also can receive disability benefits. 

By clicking here, service members diagnosed with a TBI, or think they might have one, can contact their VA health team online with secure messaging, or file a claim for benefits.

Here is a military spouse, Shannon, on how the VA immediately helped her husband after he began showing signs of a TBI.