Add Your Name to the Open Letter to the President

I just found this over at the Sgt. Sam Nichols TBI recovery blog:

Over the past year and a half, my daughter Erin has spent 8 to 14 hours a day in various military hospitals at the bedside of her husband Sam, a US Marine severely injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb.  It has become Erin’s dream to go back to school to become a speech therapist so that she can help Sam and other wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars learn to speak again.  She hopes to one day work in a veterans hospital.  One of the provisions of the new GI Bill is the option to allow servicemembers to transfer their GI Bill education funding to a spouse or dependent.  But—the military has been dragging its feet on getting the regulations in place, so servicemembers are still waiting for that benefit.  The Obama Administration can and must get the bureaucracy moving and make this benefit a reality.

In the coming months, President Obama has a unique opportunity to make a series of critical decisions impacting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Sign the open letter urging him to enact these four critical policies in his first 100 days:

    · Ensure that veterans don’t have to fight for funding for hospitals and clinics.

    · Prioritize veterans in the economic stimulus package. (Note: It may be a little late for this, but it’s still a good idea.)

    · Implement GI Bill transferability.

    · Aggressively address troops’ mental health injuries.

Add your name to the open letter here.

I just did

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Hitting the 10,000 mark today

I just checked my blog stats, and lo and behold, I’ve reached the 10,000 hits mark.  Actually 10,092, but what’s a few more? More is good! 🙂

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for stopping by. This journey is a solitary one for me, as it is for so many tbi survivors, in part because brain injury is so baffling to the person who’s been hurt, and in part because our society is still woefully ignorant about the true effects of brain injury and doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for people who got hit on the head and aren’t able to just jump up and say, “I’m okay — I’m good.

Given the kinds of comments that people leave, TBI really is a big concern with a lot of folks — especially those affected by injuries in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… returning soldiers and their families and friends and coworkers… and more. And given the amount of traffic over time, it seems to me that interest is really picking up and people are getting pro-active about dealing with TBI — either their own, or a loved one’s.

This really makes me happy. (Not that TBI happens, but that there’s more interest and information.) Over the years, as I’ve experienced injuries, I was unable to get the help I needed, first because 35 years ago, people didn’t know much about this brain injury stuff. And later because I wasn’t able to accurately self-assess my own situation and see that I needed help.

Now, with more and more info getting out there, more blogs, more websites, more YouTube videos, people are better able to find the help they need — either online, or through live resources they locate by online means.

Hitting the 10,000 mark is so invigorating for me! And it’s helping me focus more — on life outside my broken brain. It’s all too easy for me to slide into my “pity pot” and bemoan my fate… when (relatively speaking) I’m doing way better than a lot of folks out there. I’m not making light of my own difficulties, but I have to get some perspective at times and realize that A) I’m not the center of the universe whose pain matters more than anyone else’s, B) I am extremely fortunate in many respects, and C) that because of both my injuries and my recoveries and my unique abilities, I’m in a position to reach out to others who are in need and offer them some of what I have.

10,000 hits is a great sign that “feeds me” and lets me know that I’m doing something constructive with my time and energy. And it also reminds me of my responsibility (a “calling” if you will) to those who are reaching out for help, with all those search engine terms and queries and all those clicks on tags… looking… searching… seeking clues that will explain the mysteries of the mind and strategies for living life to the best of one’s ability.

And now it’s time for a contributory post. Enough about me… What about you?

Links to stories on TBI and vets

Many consequences seen with traumatic brain injury
Reuters India, India – 45 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Traumatic brain injury may lead to an increased risk of developing symptoms like those of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease

Battlefield brain injuries bring long-term problems: US report
CBC.ca, Canada – 2 hours ago
Military personnel who suffered traumatic brain injuries from explosions on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk for long-term conditions

Traumatic Brain Injuries Linked to Long-Term Health Issues for
Washington Post, United States – 3 hours ago
By Amanda Gardner THURSDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) — A new report provides evidence linking traumatic brain injury sustained by troops in combat in Iraq

Combat Head Injuries Tied to Depression, Dementia (Update1)
Bloomberg – 3 hours ago
By Alex Nussbaum Dec. 4 (Bloomberg) — US soldiers who suffer battlefield head injuries face higher risks of depression, dementia and stress disorders,

Brain-injured troops face unclear long-term risks
The Associated Press – 3 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — Many of the thousands of troops who suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are at risk of long-term health problems

Panel Urges More Screening of Brain Injury in Troops
New York Times, United States – 6 hours ago
By BENEDICT CAREY A long-awaited government report is calling on the military to test all its new recruits for cognitive skills and then do large-scale

Troops with brain injuries face long-term health risks
San Diego Union Tribune, CA – 6 hours ago
By Rick Rogers The good news is that US troops are surviving battlefield blasts and returning home in unprecedented numbers. The bad news is that thousands

Long-term consequences from brain injury
WFIE-TV, IN – 1 hour ago
(NBC) – Soldiers who survive an explosion may still have battles to fight later in life, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

Report: Mild TBI linked to multiple ailments
ArmyTimes.com, VA – 3 hours ago
By Kelly Kennedy – Staff writer A review of about 2000 studies reveals that service members with mild traumatic brain injuries — or concussions — are more

Brain-injured troops face unclear long-term risks
KSWT-TV, AZ – 5 hours ago
AP – December 4, 2008 12:14 PM ET WASHINGTON (AP) – A report headed up by a University of California, San Francisco doctor says many of the troops who

IOM Cites Poor Preparedness for Brain Injuries of Iraq and
MedPage Today, NJ – 6 hours ago
By John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 — The dramatic increase in brain injuries suffered by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan,

NHCNE leads ground breaking cooperative conference on
The Dolphin, CT – 14 hours ago
NEWPORT, RI – Civilian and military medical care givers from New England gathered for a first of its kind, cooperation conference addressing Psychological

Troops suffering brain injury face myriad possible health problems
The Canadian Press – 6 hours ago
Traumatic brain injuries have become the signature wound of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and troops who sustain them face a daunting array of potential

Report sees long-term problems for troops who suffer traumatic
Los Angeles Times, CA – 6 hours ago
Even mild brain injuries appear to be associated with problems such as seizures, aggression and dementia reminiscent of Alzheimer’s disease, according to

Great post about a soldier returning with PTSD/TBI

Main and Central has a great post about Healing Soldiers at Home. I tried to post a comment, but I got an error, so here’s my response:

Thanks so much for this excellent post! It brings together some great into that people really need to know. I’m a long-term (35 of my 43 years) traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor, who never received assistance or help (or even acknowledgement) of my condition. I was head-injured when I was 8 years old, and when people didn’t see any immediate physical problems, they just assumed things would work themselves out. Well, they didn’t. I had to work them out, myself. That’s the bad news — years and years of isolation, confusion, false-starts, problems with peers and teachers and parents and family… problems at every turn, with no explanation of what was going on with me. Growing up with a TBI taught me a lot — most of it thanks to the school of hard knocks.

But I have to say, there has been light at the end of the tunnel. Recovery from and successful living with a TBI is possible! I’m living proof! I’ve been through the darkest of valleys, and today I’m in a stable marriage of 17 years, I have a long and productive career history with some of the top businesses in the world, I have a satisfying social life, a healthy emotional balance, and peace of mind. All this, despite living on the margins and having tremendous difficulties over the years with this TBI.

In spite of all the difficulties (perhaps because of them), I have learned to live successfully on my own terms, drawing on my own resources and making sure my own needs are met. If I had depended on folks around me to help me out, I don’t think they could have done nearly as good a job as I’ve done. That’s one of the problems with TBI — it impacts the very part of you that you depend on to identify your needs and communicate them to others.

Even though the VA and the current administration are NOT living up to their responsibilities, there is hope. Each person can find their own way to health and balance… so long as they’re not locked away in a prison of ignorance and fear. TBI survivors are all too often on their own, but it doesn’t need to be the end of the story. Each and every one of us can live up to our true potential, even in the face of limitations. Even in the face of government neglect, PTSD, and brain injury!
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