WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Department of Defense says almost 350,000 service men and women have received traumatic brain injuries in the line of duty since the war began. WKBN 27 Investigates learned many of the soldiers aren’t being properly examined for their injuries when the come back home.
As many as 25,000 soldiers were tested by unqualified medical personnel, and some of those veterans are from Trumbull County. They received letters from the Department of Veterans Affairs saying that examinations of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) were not conducted by a neurologist, psychiatrist, physiatrist or neurosurgeon.
This was found during a review of TBI examinations completed between 2007 and 2015 in support of disability compensation claims.
TBIs are a common war time injury.
Herman Breuer, director of the Trumbull County Veteran Service Commission, said he was injured by a roadside bomb in March 2004.
“It’s very common when you’re around blasts and roadside bombs and so forth,” he said.
Breuer was checked out by a medical officer and sent back to duty. Sometimes in combat, that’s the best case scenario.
“You’re involved in an incident where an explosion happens and you return to duty because it seems like everything is OK,” he said.
In 2007, Veterans Affairs doctors realized that TBIs have lasting impacts. Now, 25,000 veterans are being offered new TBI exams by appropriate specialists.
Veterans could be eligible for benefits going back to 2007.
Dr. Carla Arlien treats brain injuries. She says TBIs can be hard to diagnose.
“You’re having changes in your brain internally that nobody can see,” she said. “You may have symptoms such as confusion, memory loss.”
Arlien said there are new ways to treat these injuries, even years after the fact.
“We now know there is some hope. We know the brain can create new pathways,” she said.
That means veterans who get these letters should reach out for help.
Those who received a letter have one year to request a new exam through the Department of Veterans Affairs.