The brain is a complex and vulnerable organ. As you can see, there is nothing mild about an injury to the brain. But by becoming more knowledgeable about mild brain injury, you can become an informed consumer of health services, effective health care provider, supportive family member, caring friend or colleague. It can happen to anyone.
Blast injuries, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress (PTS) are the wounds of war, but as wounded service members return home, there is another battle on the home front. The wounds of war touch families as well, including their spouses, parents, children, siblings, and caregivers.
It is the less visible wounds of changes in cognition, emotions, and behavior that can be so puzzling and frustrating for veterans and their families. Wrestling with the demons of the aftermath of war requires support, information and expertise. These blog articles by and about veterans and service members share their experiences.
Developed to help veterans and their families recognize and understand the invisible wounds of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), this 50 minute documentary produced by Korean and Vietnam veterans Norm Seider, Carl Ohlson, and John Drinkard features the voices of veterans who have returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans describe the impact of the invisible wounds of post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury and the effects on them and their families. Chronicling destructive cycles of depression, self medication, alcohol, and addiction, veterans and clinicians examine the search for a “new normal” after the devastation of war.
No matter how or where you served as a veteran, no matter how long ago or recently you came home… this documentary is for you, your family and those who care about you.
Family caregivers face multiple emotional and physical demands. This article shares the experiences of two families who faced these challenges from the TBI suffered by their veteran spouse. Hearts of Valor is one organization providing support for family caregivers dealing with the effects of TBI and PTSD in wounded veterans.
HBOT is used to treat brain injury from trauma or another cause such as stroke. While the number of people who have used HBOT for brain injury is unknown, its popularity is growing. When a trauma occurs, the brain often swells, so the injured tissue does not receive enough oxygen. The area that needs the most oxygen gets the least. HBOT drives oxygen into the cerebrospinal fluid, which carries it to the brain and permits healing.
The VA estimates more than 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Shad Meshad explores why “homelessness is the last stop on this PTSD/TBI train ride, not the first.” Since the symptoms of PTSD and TBI are similar and often overlap, PTSD can be the initial incorrect or incomplete diagnosis where TBI is present. Both these conditions can manifest as depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, aggression, and increasing social isolation. But TBI can also include memory loss, migraines, seizures, problems with language, and trouble making what might seem like simple decisions. Vets with brain injury need different treatment.
Ambiguous loss can not be seen but it is real and felt by combat veterans, their families and caregivers who struggle with the invisible wounds of war. The story of a World War 2 veteran Louis Zamperini illustrates how even the most strong willed and courageous combat veteran found another war at home with chronic PTSD that almost destroyed him. How much has changed with our returning veterans today?
Writing got me in touch with my emotions after I came home from Iraq. Through writing about my life during my time in the Marine Corps and after, I started to get in touch with the deep down, raw emotions of the darkest corners of my mind. They truly scared me, and I really did not know what to do with them. With encouragement from my wife and some pushing from Melanie, I started to express these emotions on paper, in ways I never had before. The power of releasing those emotions was amazing. I started to feel the stress of the hard times in my life beginning to fade. They never will go away, because they are part of me, but they started to fade. I just started writing, and my writing became free form poetry.
Ron Capps manages the Veterans’ Writing Project which helps wounded warriors manage stress and cope with PTSD and TBI by writing and journaling as self-expression. “Either you control the memory or the memory controls you.” These words on a sign in Ron Capps’ office remind him not only of how he has learned to deal with his own past but also how his new work helps others. Fortunately, he learned from his doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that “the arts bring back the higher brain function.” Writing, his chosen art, helps him get control of his traumatic memories, unlike “therapy, medication, and whiskey,” which didn’t, he says
Matthew and Cossandra Brown talk openly about how the effects of his TBI and PTSD changed their relationship and almost destroyed their marriage. His anger, drinking, and sexual demands drove his wife away and they separated. Even his young children were scared by his anger and outbursts.Losing contol over his life and with his marriage dissolving, he sought counseling and help for his PTSD. Cossondra reveals what it was like for her as a spouse and her concerns for her children during this tumultuous time. Now reunited, they are rebuilding their marriage and future. .
For so many returning service members and veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the question may be, “Are your emotions ready for intimacy?” Sex and intimacy are very different. While sex is a physical act, intimacy is an emotional connection. loss of intimacy. Tt is the elephant in the room that too often is not discussed with family, friends, physicians, or counselors. When the connection between loss of intimacy and PTSD is not understood, too many partners “take it personally” and feel unloved, unworthy, unattractive, and rejected. Whether the demands for sex are constant or sex is avoided for long periods, loss of intimacy can undermine the very core of a couple’s relationship.