Navy Officer’s Story Shows Struggle With TBIs Among Veterans

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are among the most common injuries sustained by Iraq and Afghanistan vets. It is estimated that over 320,000 veterans of both wars suffer from the effects of TBIs.

A Chief Petty Officer (CPO) in the U.S. Navy recently shared his story about living with a TBI. The CPO was an explosives ordnance disposal technician, responsible for disarming improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Moviegoers might recognize this job from the movie The Hurt Locker.

While on deployment in Iraq in 2004, the CPO was involved in a firefight and thrown from the truck he was riding in. During the several years after his accident, the CPO had difficulty organizing ideas and tasks, which damaged his military career and lost him two jobs.

In 2013, the CPO was diagnosed with a mild TBI that had been compounded by repeated blasts during his multiple deployments in Iraq. During the course of the last year, the CPO has been placed on limited-duty status and has been repeatedly reprimanded for poor performance.

How Are People Affected By Mild TBIs?

The CPO’s story can show how damaging “mild TBIs” and concussions can become. Depending on the area of the brain affected by a concussion, the symptoms of mild TBIs can vary. Some who have sustained mild TBIs will have cognitive difficulties, memory loss and behavioral problems.

In addition to immediate symptoms, some people may eventually develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can lead to early onset dementia decades later. Unfortunately, some veterans will likely have lifelong complications from sustaining TBIs during wartime.

Civilians affected by mild TBIs can have the same complications. Mild TBIs have recently been associated with high school, college and professional sports, but they can also occur after car accidents and falls.

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