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Investigations show poor government response to brain injurys

As one of the two major wars that the United States is involved in comes to a close, many troops are returning home to states like Ohio. One of the signature injuries sustained by troops during the wars in the Middle East is the traumatic brain injury, and many soldiers are suffering from the effects.

Some of those injuries are becoming worse as time goes on because they remain undetected, largely due to flaws in the diagnosis and treatment of soldiers who have been subjected to potential brain-injuring circumstances, such as the explosion of a roadside bomb.

According to estimates, more than 115,000 soldiers have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury. Also known as concussions, these injuries can have long-term effects that leave an individual struggling to reason properly or remember things.

Many investigations into the military's policies on these soldiers have turned up less-than-ideal situations. In January, one U.S. senator questioned the Pentagon and its decision to not provide cognitive rehabilitation therapy to soldiers who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

A month later, investigators with the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the Defense Centers of Excellence -- a group involved in the Pentagon's brain injury program development -- could not determine exactly how much funding it was receiving. Some believe that news headlines spotlighting these flaws will ensure the improvement of health care for our soldiers.

In March, a news outlet published a story indicating some soldiers had been denied Purple Hearts after receiving a traumatic brain injury. The military soon changed its guidelines for the medal, making it easier for affected soldiers to receive the prestigious recognition.

One thing is for certain: As these soldiers return home to try and find work, they deserve the best care they can get. And if they can't work because of their injuries, then they deserve compensation for the service they did for their country.

Source: Pro Publica, "Military Still Struggling to Treat Troops With Brain Injuries," Joaquin Sapien, Dec. 27, 2011

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