Tag Archives: army

July 4th Fireworks

Every July 4th, Americans across the country light up the sky with fireworks.  This patriotic spectacle is commonly enjoyed at large outdoor celebrations, though often fireworks are also set off at private homes.  This circumstance brings to the fore an issue that we as a society may not generally afford sufficient attention.  Namely,  how do our family and neighbors react to fireworks?

After a brain injury, many survivors are highly sensitive to loud noises.  Fireworks can be quite disturbing to a survivor, even if he or she enjoyed them in the past.  Fireworks may lead to agitation, frustration and acting out.  Prior to attending a fireworks celebration (whether public or private), loved ones should check with survivors and their therapists as to whether those survivors would do well at a fireworks display.  If the survivor chooses to attend a display event, loved ones should have an exit plan prepared just in case the event goes poorly for the survivor.  Neighbors should check with survivors and their families prior to setting off fireworks.  Fireworks are not truly a “private” matter, since everyone in the nearby vicinity will be hearing them whether they wish to or not.  It is not fair for the survivor to be put in serious distress just because a neighbor likes to set off fireworks.

This issue may prove even more pertinent when a survivor is a combat veteran.  Many combat veterans who suffered injuries in battle also have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD symptoms can include flashbacks in which the veteran feels like he or she is back contending with the relentless stressors of life in combat, painful memories of the trauma of friends dying and serious sleep disturbances. Fireworks can trigger all of these symptoms and more.  Additionally, many in the South have a custom of shooting guns in the air on July 4th.  If fireworks are a bad idea around combat veterans with PTSD, then shooting guns is a horrible idea.  (As a sidebar this practice is simply remarkably dangerous.  This writer knows a woman who was hit by a bullet that was shot by an unknown individual in the air to celebrate a holiday. The bullet fell into an open restaurant area and lodged in her lung.)  The combined effects of a brain injury and PTSD can make these situations especially tricky for veterans.  Loved ones should check with survivors and their therapists as to whether these veteran survivors may have a PTSD-type reaction around fireworks or guns.  Again, neighbors should check with combat veterans to ensure that the neighbors’ celebrations do not harm the psychological well-being of these individuals.  Some combat veterans have taken to putting signs on their lawns identifying themselves as combat veterans and asking others to be courteous with fireworks.  These signs should be taken seriously and neighbors should not shoot fireworks or guns near these veterans.  Again, no one should be forced to suffer in service of a neighbor’s idea of “fun.”

Wishing everyone a Happy July 4th!

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Book Recommendation For Working With Soldiers/Veterans

In recent years, public awareness has been growing of the increasing presence of brain injuries in combat soldiers and veterans. Many doctors and therapists are now working with these soldiers and veterans but often do not fully grasp how this population may differ from other patient populations.

 
The military is in no way simply a nine to five job. For many soldiers and veterans it encompasses much of their life and identity. Under combat deployment, there are no days off from work. The soldier is on duty 24-7 without a true break or rest. Due to the demands and risks of the military, soldiers are part of a culture that is very different from that of the civilian world. For instance, it’s relatively common for an employee at a store to question a supervisor’s directives and perhaps even lodge a complaint with management. This process may last for several days and either see action taken or not. In combat, a soldier is not in a position to question a direct order. Life and death decisions have to be made moment by moment. The immediacy of danger also leads soldiers to develop intense and special bonds with one another. The loss of a fellow solider in combat may be felt as strongly as the loss of a family member. Since being a soldier so often encompasses so much of the individual’s life and identity, being dismissed from the military due to an injury is not like being fired from a job. The effects of emotions such as grief and anger felt resulting from losses suffered in the course of a veteran’s service are often experienced on an entirely separate level of magnitude.

 

Below is a list of a few books that may help doctors and therapists to better understand this population:

Hidden Battles on Unseen Fronts: Stories of American Soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD by Patricia Driscoll and Celia Straus

On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace and On Killing: The Psychological Risks of Learning To Kill in War and Society by Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Free Continuing Education Credit

WETA (the public television/radio station of Washington D.C.) and the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center have partnered to create a great website on brain injury,www.Brainline.org.

Brainline.org is now offering a free continuing education (CE) course called Identifying and Treating Concussion/mTBI in Service Members and Veterans.  The course offers free CE credits for members of the American Medical Association and American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Below is the link to the course:

http://www.brainlinemilitary.org/concussion_course/introduction.php

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org 

Project Victory

Many experts believe that the hallmark injury of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is traumatic brain injury.  In fact, the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Brain Injury Center estimated that 22% of all injuries received by soldiers during the recent wars were brain injuries.  Unfortunately, a large percentage of our veterans and soldiers with traumatic brain injuries never receive adequate treatment.  They may subsequently experience deficits such as poor memory, difficulty sustaining concentration and a lack of sufficient impulse control.  These problems often negatively impact success as they return to their lives at home and at work.

The Transitional Learning Center offers rehabilitative services under a special program called Project Victory which is designed to help soldiers and veterans with traumatic brain injuries.  To qualify, the soldier or veteran must have served in Operation New Dawn (Iraq), Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation Iraqi Freedom and have a suffered a traumatic brain injury/concussion during that military service.

There is no cost to the Project Victory participants.  The program is supported by a grant administered by the TIRR foundation and is independent of any government agency.  Length of stay is generally between 6-10 weeks and program participants receive a full range of therapeutic services designed to improve their lives.  These include psychological, speech, physical, occupational and recreational therapies.

Here is a wonderful news story by KPRC on some of our Project Victory participants and the gains they made in the program: http://www.click2houston.com/news/Project-Victory-gives-veterans-healing-hope/-/1735978/9208576/-/wrctws/-/index.html

For more information on Project Victory, please contact Director of Admissions Jim Osborne by phone: (409-797-1455) or e-mail:  (josborne@tlc-galveston.org).

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org