Disabled Veterans and Brain Injuries: A Particular Case

We’ve been tracking the story of access to benefits for disabled veterans carefully in this blog. Most recently, in our May 17 post, we discussed the “surge” promised by officials at the Veterans Administration (VA) to finally reduce the backlog of claims that slows down the entire system.

The VA has also said it will work collaboratively with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to resolve issues that delay disabled veterans’ claims. In Southeast Michigan and across the country, these delays have become a tremendous burden for many vets.

In the abstract, it can be all too easy to miss the impact of the delays on individual lives. After all, in round numbers there are around 800,000 veterans who are affected.

All of us, however, can focus on one case. And by doing so, we can get a sense of similar issues that affect many other veterans as well.

Consider, then, the brain injury issues faced by a Navy SEAL who was involved in the Osama bin Laden raid in 2011. This was one of the most lauded missions in recent U.S. history.

But one of the SEALs now has difficult memory loss issues resulting from a serious brain injury. And this SEAL is far from alone. According to government data, more than 43,000 servicemembers suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) in some form in the years between 2003 and 2012.

When someone has a TBI, their ability to carry out even basic tasks can be compromised. It can be difficult even to do such things as keep track of car keys. There are many other ways as well in which brain injuries can become a disabling condition.

Source: Huffington Post, “Osama Bin Laden Raid Member Has Traumatic Brain Injury,” June 10, 2013