Obama: Letting Down Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injuries

During his presidential campaign, candidate Obama made many promises to veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. However, a new investigative report conducted by ProPublica and NPR shows that President Obama has failed to deliver on most of his promises made as a candidate in term of  giving veterans the health care they so desperately need and deserve for their service for long term treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

On the specific topic of addressing Traumatic Brain Injury, this is what candidate Obama had to say in his “Veterans Fact Sheet”.

“Improve care for Traumatic Brain Injury: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a signature injury of the Iraq war. The concussions from improvised explosive devices can cause mood changes, memory loss, convulsions, and loss of coordination. Barack Obama was an original cosponsor of legislation to improve care for TBI. As president, Obama will establish standards of care for TBI treatment, require pre and post-deployment screening, and improve case management so that service members get the best possible care.”

But according to the very well documented report from ProPublica and NPR, the reality for the many veterans suffering from TBI is far different from candidate Obama’s electoral promises as veterans are slipping through the cracks in the Veteran Administration system. Again on August 19, 2008 Barack Obama was renewing his commitment to provide the best health care possible to veterans in a speech delivered at the Annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

“We need to make sure the VA is strong enough to treat every veterans who depend on it. That is what I will do as President,” said Obama. And further, on the specific topic of addressing PTSD and TBI.

“We must expand and enhance our ability to identify and treat PTSD and TBI at all levels: From enlistment, to deployment, to civilian life. No one should suffer in silence, or slip though the cracks of the system. That is why I have passed measures to increase screening for these unseen wounds, and helped lead a bipartisan effort to stop the unfair practice of kicking out troops who suffer from them. This is something I have pushed for in the Senate, and it is something that I will make a priority as President,” said Barack Obama.

ProPublica and NPR reported that the military is still failing to diagnose, and provide proper treatment for TBI for veterans  who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In their comprehensive investigation, ProPublica and NPR report that even soldiers who have been diagnosed with such injuries often do not receive the appropriate treatment they need.

Traumatic brain injuries are among the most common wounds sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officially the Pentagon says about 150,000 soldiers have suffered brain injuries since the wars began. But according to a 2008 study by the Rand Corporation, the number is much higher, in the range of 400,000. Even so most people recover quickly from such injuries, between 5 percent to 15 percent of soldiers suffer long term problems.

ProPublica and NPR interviewed more than a dozen soldiers suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury at Fort Bliss Texas for their investigative report.


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