"NO LESS A THOROUGHBRED" is a Camo Gallopalooza horse with an artificial leg. Gallopalooza Bridles & Bourbon, presented by BROWN-FORMAN began in 2004 and has raised over $1,000,000 for over 150 charities thtough the sale of these works of art. The rightful artists/owners/sponsors credits for this "gallopalooza" are unknown to this author.
It is Kentucky Derby Time in Louisville, KY. It is that time of year when flash and flair are the standard. Brightly colored clothes. Dazzling hats. Thundering fireworks. Chow wagons. Steamboat races. Hot Air Balloon glows. Brilliantly colored horse statues.
The first time I laid eyes on this picture of NO LESS A THOROUGHBRED, chills flashed through me. It is a magnificent tribute to America's veterans! But NO LESS A THOROUGHBRED is far more than a piece of art...it is an arresting reminder that the value of our wounded veterans is by no means deminished by their injuries.
Hardly a day that goes by anymore that we are not reminded of the huge personal sacrifices of our American Veterans. Wheelchairs. Missing arms. Missing legs. Scar tissue from massive burns. Some veterans adjust to these sacrifices better than others. But because of their physical injuries and scars, we vividly see their struggle. Our veterans' can-do spirits, their improvise, adapt, and overcome mindsets propel them on through life. As citizens we are inspired and awestruck by our veterans' courage and strength, and we gain a better understanding of the real price of our freedoms and liberty. This is what helps us keep our veterans sacrifices and injuries in our minds.
While we are keeping veterans visible injuries in mind, we must also keep the invisable injuries in mind. Seldom will we find a veteran with a visible injury that isn't dealing with an invisible one as well. Post Traumatic Stress. Depression. Anxiety. Fear. Survivor guilt. Post Traumatic Epilepsy. Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures. For the most part, we have heard of these invisable wounds. However, most of us have probably not heard about those last two mentioned: Post Traumatic Epilepsy and Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures.
Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE) is a seizure disorder caused by a brain injury. While a person does not have to be a veteran to develop PTE, veterans have a significantly higher risk due to the nature of their every day duties and/or combat. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is the signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The greater the severity of the TBI, the greater the risk of developing PTE. In some veterans with TBI, they are more likely to develop PTE than they are of flipping a coin, calling it heads, and getting it right.
Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES) can develop in veterans (and others) who have developed Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD). These seizures are called non-epileptic because there is no disruption of the individual's normal brain waves. Although PNES are not inherently life-threatening like epileptic seizures are, they still present a risk of great bodily injury depending on when and where they occur.
It is just as important to keep injuries in mind that are injuries of the mind because whether the injury is visible, invisible, or both...the injured veteran is NO LESS A THOROUGHBRED!
Recently I was asked if I knew how many veterans in the United States are seizing. The question is clear, concise, and should be easily answered. In fact, the answer is just as simple: No one knows how many veterans are actually seizing. No one even has a clue.
The photos and captions below are found at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/sen-schumer-calls-canyon-heroes-parade-iraq-afghanistan-vets-article-1.1755348 and are used to illustrate the massive numbers of veterans living in the Unted States. The pictures show only thousands of the 26 Million veterans that are American's Heroes.
While we cannot come to a definitive number of veterans seizing, we can, however, make a few assumptions by looking at other things. For example, the Southeast Regional VA Epilepsy Center of Excellence (ECoC) in Durham, NC reported they served more than 87,000 veterans with seizures. This report did not, however, differentiate between epileptic and non-epileptic seizures. If you dig deeply enough in each of the ECoE literature, you may find their number. The problem with this is there are 4 regions and 16 total sites for the ECoE, and you cannot count on any of them to give detailed information about the veterans they are serving.
Trying to navigate the labyrinth of data the VA provides is extremely difficult and, in reality, may not be that useful anyway. The United States is home to more than 21.6 million veterans. The VA, however, only serves 5,908,042. That is it! Out of 21.6 million veterans, only 27% are enrolled with the VA. So regardless of how many hours are invested in searching the VA databases, the results represents a small number of veterans. There is absolutely no way to track how many of the 15,711,689 (73%) of those not using the VA Health Care System are seizing? We have no idea what is happening with 73% of our American veterans! (http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43579.pdf)
Perhaps the best way to get an idea of how many veterans in the United States is to look closely at the past. The Vietnam Head Injury Study (VHIS) has been being conducted for more than 40 years now. It is considered to be the longest, most statistically relevant study of military head injuries. You can Google it, but here is an article published in Frontiers in Neurology in 2011 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093742/). The authors’ state,
Previous studies of World War Two (Walker and Jablon, 1961) and Korean War veterans (Weiss and Caveness, 1972) had confirmed the association between post-traumatic seizures and penetrating TBI. At PH2, of the 421 veterans who had sustained a TBI, 53% had a history of PTE, which had started within a year of TBI in the majority of cases (Salazar et al., 1985). About one-half of the group were still experiencing seizures 15 years after injury.
These numbers seem to indicate the “official” numbers being reported today about veterans and seizures are extremely deflated. The VHIS study began with 1221 veterans, so 421 represents about 34% sustained a head injury (compare this number to the 25% or less number being thrown around by DOD…and the head injury was not the signature injury of the Vietnam conflict. Plus of the numbers we are being given today, 53% is only the worst of the worst scenarios. Yet, the VHIS states 53% of ALL who sustained a head injury (no separation of mild, moderate, and severe) developed PTE.
When we combine whatever number we can get from the VA ECoE and the results of the Vietnam Head Injury Study, the prevalence reality is far worse than we ever imagined. Now include the March 2015 report on Epilepsy from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) that more than doubled the numbers of their previous report on people living with epilepsy (“When counting both children and adults, about 5.1 million people in the United States have had a diagnosis of epilepsy or a seizure disorder”; http://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/basics/fast-facts.htm). The numbers become even more staggering.
Finally consider the fact that the Department of Defense (DOD) and the VA use both Social Work Clinicians (LCSW) and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) to treat veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. Neither the LCSW’s nor the LPCC’s have any medical training whatsoever. In the last two years of my full-time work with the clinicians, NOT ONE had ever heard of Post Traumatic Epilepsy or Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures…not even the Ph.D. level Director of Mental Health Clinicians at a Warrior Transition Battalion had ever heard of them. So, I wonder how many seizures are being missed because the clinicians have no idea that panic attacks, hallucinations, etc. are not necessarily JUST symptoms of mental health issues.
While we cannot determined the exact number of veterans that are experiencing seizures, considering the information above we can be relatively certain the number of veterans seizing is exponentially more than what we read or hear about.
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In the 22 March 2015 edition of THE STAR Online, a news source in Adelaide, South Australia, Prof Datuk Tan Chong Tin (senior consultant in neurology, University Malaya Medical Centre) posits that culture has a major influence on how epilepsy is viewed and understood. He writes,
In many cultures, epilepsy is regarded negatively as a form of demon possession, or reflection of sin committed by ancestors. For example, in many Asian societies, it is perceived as a form of madness, reflected in the terms used for epilepsy. For example, both the two words used in Chinese for epilepsy, “Dian Xian” mean “madness”. Similarly “gila babi” in Malay. In Laos, the saliva of epilepsy patients is thought to be able to transmit the disease, so patients are often not encouraged to eat together at the same table with other family members. It is easy to understand why epilepsy patients who live in these cultures would face discrimination because of the disease (http://www.thestar.com.my/Lifestyle/Health/2015/03/22/How-epilepsy-is-perceived-in-different-cultures/).
Throughout the world the epilepsies are fraught with unfound truth. While the knowledge base about the epilepsies has grown exponentially in recent decades, a profoundly clear understanding has yet to be achieved, even in the most advanced societies. For instance, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the cause of epilepsy is unknown for about 70% of the people diagnosed with the Neurological Disorder. Before thinking poorly about such a huge failing percentage, a look at the history of epilepsy demonstrates the quantum leap the knowledge base has grown in the last century. Here is an extremely cursory look at how epilepsy knowledge has changed over time:
1800 B.C. Assyria, Akkadia, and Babylonia recognize epilepsy.
1760 B.C. The famous Code of Hammurabi issues regulations regarding the right of return for those who have purchased a “diseased slave”. The world-view of epilepsy at this time attributed epilepsy to supernatural causes calling it “what has fallen from heaven” (Sumarian).
400 B.C. Hippocrates authors, On the Sacred Disease, suggesting epilepsy is the result of natural causes and not of sacred origin.
1487 Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) is published in Germany. A dissertation on witch-hunting, the author posits epilepsy to be both the result of a spell cast by a witch and proof-positive that epilepsy is a sign of being a witch.
1757 People living with epilepsy in Sweden are forbidden by law to marry.
1857 Sir Charles Locock introduces Bromides as medicinal treatment for epilepsy, a treatment considered as best treatment practice over the next 50 years.
1895 United States House Bill 681 forbid people living with epilepsy from marrying or co-habitating. This Bill would not be overturned until 1953.
1896 Modeled after a colony in Bielefeld, Germany, “Craig Colony for Epileptics” opens its doors in Sonyea, NY.
1904 “Having been in practice for years and dedicating his services to people with epilepsy as the Medical Superintendent at Craig Colony for Epileptics, William P. Spratling is often considered to be the first epileptologist. In fact, he coined the term in 1904 to describe himself and other neurologists who specialized in the treatment of epilepsy. All epileptologists are neurologists, but not all neurologists are epileptologists.”
1907 “People with epilepsy have been denied many rights throughout the ages including education and work training. In 1907, legislation denying immigrants with epilepsy (as well as tuberculosis and physical disabilities) was passed. Indiana was the first state to officially pass a eugenics law in relation to sterilization of individuals, including idiots and imbeciles, in state custody. People with epilepsy were not specifically mentioned; however, in the early 1900s, terms such as idiots, imbeciles and feebleminded were used interchangeably when referring to people with epilepsy. Many other states followed suit with sterilization laws, many of which specifically targeted people with epilepsy. The last of Indiana’s mandatory sterilization laws were removed on February 13, 1974. The eugenics laws of the United States influenced Nazi eugenics during the Holocaust.”
1907 Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island with epilepsy were denied entrance to the United States.
1935 The Electroencephalogram (EEG) was introduced and brain waves could be monitored during seizures.
1936 The American Epilepsy Society was born.
1968 The Epilepsy Foundation of America was born.
This history was obtained from Epilepsy Education Everywhere (http://epilepsyed.org/history-of-epilepsy/).
Today despite major progress in our understanding of how the brain works and why it causes people have seizures, the epilepsies remain the most common and most mysterious neurological issues. Gaining a clear understanding of the epilepsies is extremely important to American veterans who have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (Concussion) because of the proven causal relationship between brain injuries and post traumatic epilepsy. If you are a military service member or a veteran and suspect you may have had a brain injury, seek help because you may be having seizures and not know it. Don’t allow yourself to be ignorant by choice or by laziness. When it comes to epilepsy, ignorance is in no way, shape, form, or fashion blissful. Ignorance of the epilepsies harm our American veterans.
Blast Exposure: Brain Injury Not the Only Injury
John L. Mustain, M.S.S.W.
According to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) 2014 report, Long Term Effects of Blast Exposure, the United States has deployed around 2.2 million military personnel, suffered 6,755 fatalities, and cared for 51,250 wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, the data on the number of wounded does not include unreported injuries. Researchers with the IOM are quick to point out that Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) “have unforeseen consequences for military personnel that are not yet fully understood.” Furthermore, the IOM research indicates about 80% of all injuries are the result of blast exposure to Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s).
The report posits five major categories of injuries caused by IED blasts: “Primary blast injury is caused by the blast wave itself, secondary injury is caused by fragments of debris propelled by the explosion, tertiary injury is due to the acceleration of the body or part of the body by the blast wave or blast wind, quaternary injuries include all other injuries directly caused by a blast but not classified by another mechanism (for example, burns, toxic-substance exposures, and psychological trauma), and quandary injuries are illnesses or diseases that result from chemical, biologic, or radiologic substances released by a bomb.”
Perhaps the best known of all blast injuries are Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). TBI and PTSD have a proven, causal relationship to persistent headache, permanent neurologic disability, cognitive dysfunction, unprovoked seizures, and Post Traumatic Epilepsy. However, TBI and PTSD are not the only blast exposure injuries.
The IOM research indicates that IED’s cause significant injury and often, prolonged issues with the Lungs, Liver, Heart, Spleen, Kidney, and Eyes. “The acute physical and psychological human health outcomes in those who survive blast explosions can be devastating. The long-term consequences are less clear.”
Veterans who have been exposed to blasts should become aware of the many different ways IED blasts could affect the entire body, not just the brain. Like the commercial for the old game, Operation, says, “the head bone is connected to the neck bone….
The IOM study sited throughout this brief article can be found at (http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2014/Gulf-War-and-Health-Volume-9-Long-Term-Effects-of-Blast-Exposures.aspx). It is 192 pages long, but well worth the read.
Okay, I admit it. When first invited to attend the Defend Freedom Tour sponsored by an organization called Concerned Veterans for America, I was extremely skeptical about the message I would be hearing. I imagined a bunch of veterans sitting around bashing our Government, Obamacare, and the National Debt. I imagined a personality-driven, Left-verses-Right tirade of hot air spewing into the audience. With my imagination running wild and without any investigation of the Defend Freedom Tour or the Concerned Veterans for America organization, I decided not to attend. My decision not to attend was not because I am not passionate about my country or concerned about what is happening within our country. I decided not to attend because I didn't want to hear anymore "political spin." Then a few days before the tour came to Louisville, I read that Dakota Meyer would be speaking. As a disabled veteran, I hold a lot of respect for those who are recipients of our Nation's highest award for Valor: the Medal of Honor. I wanted to hear Sgt. Meyer speak, so I registered and attended the event.
My imaginings were wrong...dead wrong!
From the moment Pete Hagsleth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and Bronze Star recipient stood to speak, I realized I had underestimated this grassroots movement. I had thought of it as just another group of "spin doctors" willing to manipulate the emotions of the masses. However, the Defend Freedom Tour is about solidarity. It is calling for veterans from all military services to stand united and to honor their oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. "Our commitment to defend the Constitution didn't end when our tour of duty ended," Hagsleth said. With 26 million veterans in the United States, Hagsleth called for veterans to stand united and to speak with one voice in order to preserve the freedoms we fought to maintain. The message became immediately clear to me. This movement is not about the past. This movement is not about casting blame. This movement is about the future of our country and the need for we veterans to become active in the governing process. Hence the tagline, "Honor Service, Take Action."
After Hagsleth's introduction of the evening events, several speakers mounted the podium to make their appeals for veteran solidarity. Those speakers included two Gold Star Mothers who's sons were killed in action, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Steve Russell the Task Force 1-22 Commander that tracked and found Saddam Hussein and author of the book WE GOT HIM!, and Sgt. Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient.
After the event, I talked with Pete Hagsleth about veterans with TBI's and their increased risk of developing Post Traumatic Epilepsy and about the gap in services between the time a veteran is medically retired and that veteran getting into the VA system. He was genuinely concerned and requested more information.
When I left the Defend Freedom Tour event, I felt really good because this is a movement that is interested in doing the right things for the right reasons and remaining honorable in both our service and our action. I wholehearted recommend that all veterans become a part of this important movement in our nation.
By the way if you are interested in reading Lt. Col. Russell's book, "WE GOT HIM!," Operation Outreach has an autographed copy for charity auction on eBay. Proceeds will go to Kentucky Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury Post Traumatic Epilepsy for both assistance and advocacy. Click here for the eBay link to this book.
Recently while attending Operation Immersion, a program designed to give service providers to veterans a glimpse into military life and issues, I learned the phrase, "The Fatal Funnel" and what it means. A "Fatal Funnel" occurs when soldiers are forced through a singular, narrow space (like a door or a hallway) while either being fired upon or anticipating being fired upon. It is an uncertain, life-or-death situation.
For many returning American Heroes the battles are not over...just different. Now they must face often debilitating medical conditions, syndromes, and disorders like Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), and many others. One of the least talked about potential home-front battles is Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE).
Every person who sustains a TBI is a candidate for PTE, regardless of whether they were ever in the military or not. Those with TBI's suffered in the military, however, are at an even greater risk of developing PTE than those in the general public. Post Traumatic Epilepsy is when a person who has sustained a TBI has two or more unprovoked seizures. A seizure is "a brief, strong rush of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes." As the severity of the TBI increases, so does the risk of PTE. In fact, some of our veterans are facing a 53% increased risk of developing PTE. In other words for some veterans with TBI, they have a better chance of developing PTE then they do flipping a coin, calling it heads, and getting it right.
Adding to the problem of PTE is the possible late-onset component involved. Some veterans will experience no problems at all, and other veterans may go 30 or 40 years after the injury before having their first seizure. There is simply no predicting when—or
if—the soldier will seize. For example, earlier this year a veteran was riding his motorcycle down the Interstate and had his first seizure…four years after his return from Afghanistan. Not only is he having to deal with his injuries from the accident (he may have to have his leg amputated), but he also now has to try and get his seizures under control.
"Deaths from seizures are uncommon, but do occur. People with seizure disorders (epilepsy) have an increased risk of death due to accidents from seizures such as drowning and other causes such as status epilepticus. In addition, there is a condition called Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). While these causes are all relatively uncommon, it is important to be aware of each and to take any necessary precautions."
PTE is the Fatal Funnel. Every day our returning heroes will be breaching the door and moving down the hallway of life. Every day they will have to either face the possibility of seizures or endure the seizures. Every day for the rest of their lives they will have to navigate their personal Fatal Funnel.
Americans love their freedom and independence, and since 1870 when Congress declared the 4th of July as a National Holiday, Americans have loved their Independence Day celebrations with family and friends. The 4th of July has become a highly anticipated weekend of fun, food, and relaxation. At least for most Americans…
From WWII through the present, the United States still has 83,348 American soldiers listed as Missing In Action. The sad reality is we don’t know if these soldiers are dead or are being held as Prisoners of War. In July 2011, the Wall Street Journal published an article by David Feith titled, America’s Forgotten Prisoners of War. Feith’s article reports on the fate of two American Soldiers: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and Ssgt. Ahmed Altaie. According to the WSJ article, Sgt. Bergdahl was last seen in an April 2011 video supplicating: "Every day I want to go home. The pain in my heart to see my family again doesn't get any smaller. Release me, please. I am begging you. Bring me home." Operation Outreach struggles to understand the pain, loss, and emptiness the families of those missing in action must feel. For most of the party participants this 4th of July, those Americans missing in action will be far from their minds.
There is, however, a growing number of potential Prisoners of War. These POW’s are not locked behind enemy bars, savagely interrogated, or inhumanely forced into labor. In fact, these POW’s are back in the United States. Some are living with their families and others are living on the streets. These POW’s are our soldiers returning home who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and who have yet to experience the full, latent consequences of their TBI. Of course the reported number of soldiers who have suffered a TBI varies widely. The pie chart (in picture) represents the number of TBI's that the Department of Defense reports, and yet CBS says the Pentagon is reporting 36% of OEF/OIF/OND veterans have sustained a TBI (36% of 2 million deployed is 720,000).
Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE) is not uncommon following a TBI. PTE is a form of Epilepsy that is acquired following a head injury. In 2009, Dr. Daniel H. Lowenstien, a Harvard Graduate and the Director of the Epilepsy Center at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, published an article titled, Epilepsy after head injury: An overview. Dr. Lowenstien notes several important facts of which veterans who have suffered a TBI need to be aware. First, “the association of epilepsy and head injury has been recognized since antiquity.” Second, “the likelihood of developing epilepsy after severe TBI is as high as 40–50% in some settings.” Third, “there is typically a significant delay between the initial head injury and the development of epilepsy.” Finally, with consideration of those soldiers who have incurred a severe TBI “the development of epilepsy by 10 years or more after the injury (with combined observations on 3,066 soldiers), the incidence is almost exactly 50% in all the studies.” Other studies indicate the late-onset of Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE) can occur as many as 20 years or 35 years after the TBI occurs. The problem is there is no way of knowing which veterans with a TBI will or will not develop PTE, or when their first seizure will occur. Thus the veteran becomes a potential POW to the waiting game...the ambiguity of not knowing if or when he or she may develop PTE. For the veteran with a TBI who develops PTE, the scenario might go something like this: he or she suffered a TBI at 20 years old. The veteran has had no complications from the TBI for 35 years. Now 55 years old, the veteran packs the grand kids into the car for a day at the park. While driving down the road the veteran experiences his or her first seizure. Depending on the type of seizure, the results could be horrific not only for the veteran but for those grandchildren as well. Two months ago, Operation Outreach had an extended family have his first seizure while riding his motorcycle down the highway...4 years after his mild TBI and without any complications between TBI and seizure.
PTE is not the only life-altering ailment that can follow or be comorbid with TBI. There are some estimates that about 50% of those suffering a TBI also develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and on June 27, 2013, the Los Angeles Times published an article linking TBI to increased risk for ischemic stroke.
Unlike those Americans who were physically bound and tortured by the enemy, the veterans who have suffered a TBI are held bondage by what could potentially happen to them. They are our Potential POW’s.
Operation Outreach is proud of all our American soldiers and veterans. We long for the families of all 83,348 of our POW’s/MIA’s to find some closure and comfort. We desire peace throughout the world. We celebrate our independence. And, we understand the tidal wave of medical and mental health issues our veterans are currently facing and will face in the future. We call on all who are veterans or who have loved a veteran to help us help them. Get involved. Help us find a cure for Epilepsy so that no warrior of our nation will lose another moment to seizures.
This Independence Day get out there and have some fun! But, take the time to remember the past and on-going sacrifices that were made so we can celebrate our independence.
Oh, by the way...please be mindful of the veterans in your life. Many of our veterans hate fireworks because the sounds of the Bottle Rockets and Firecrackers remind them of a place they time they would just as soon forget.
Do you remember the Oscar winning movie Black Hawk Down (2001)? Chances are you either remember watching it or you have heard of it. When the movie was pulled from theaters after its 15-week run, it had grossed $172,989,652 and had left an indelible impression on the hearts and minds of Americans.
Black Hawk Down is based on the events of October 3-4, 1993 in Mogadishu, Somalia. Some have called it the First Battle of Mogadishu and others call it the Battle of Black See (after the name of the neighborhood in which it took place) in which two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed. The Battle left 18 American men dead, 70 wounded, with 3,000 Somalis casualties. After the battle, Staff Sergeant William David Cleveland, Jr. was dragged naked through the streets. If you are interested, you can read about the situation and circumstances surrounding Black Hawk Down on the Internet (http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/Somalia/Somalia.htm) or just Google search the title.
The American Press and others have rightfully highlighted the heroism of the soldiers Black Hawk Down. Likewise, the Press has been quick to sensationalize the failures in their personal lives as well. For instance by the time the movie was released, the Pentagon had pressured the producers to alter the name of Silver Star winner Specialist John “Stebby” Stebbins to John Grimes (played by Ewan McGregor) because Stebbins was sentenced to 30 years in prison on June 8, 2000 for “sodomy with a child under 12.” However…no one seems to have noticed 2nd Lt. John Beales’ seizure (which actually took place the day before the events of Black Hawk Down).
The epic storyline, however, drowns a very interesting event worth remembering. In the beginning of the action, 2nd Lieutenant John Beales (played by Ioan Gruffundd) suffers an epileptic seizure and Staff Sergeant Matt Eversmann (played by Josh Hartnett) is thrust into the position of leadership even though he had never commanded troops in combat before.
What caused Beales’ seizure? Seizures are not uncommon to military soldiers and Acquired Epilepsy is the basis for a growing number of military medical separations. It is unfortunate the public is largely unaware of Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE) and its long-term consequences. Soldiers who experience even a single concussion—or what is today being called a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury—are at increased risk for PTE. The
greater the severity of the brain injury, the greater the risk of developing PTE. Americans need to wake up and realize that 2nd Lt. John Beales is not alone, currently 1 in 5 of our soldiers could develop PTE…1 in 5!
It is the opinion of Operation Outreach that every soldier deserves to know the risks. Take the time to read about PTE because chances are good that you (if you are a veteran with a TBI) or someone you know will acquire this serious medical condition.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is commonly called the "signature" injury of the current war. A lot of debate and misunderstanding has surrounded the TBI discussion. It is also well known that
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often accompanies TBI. Both TBI and PTSD are debilitating conditions, and can be even more incapacitating when experienced simultaneously. CBS 60 Minutes ran a segment on May 5, 2013 highlighting the true picture of the face of TBI and PTSD, namely that 36% of soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered a TBI.
The news, however, is missing and failing to report a potentially life-threatening medical condition that accompanies both TBI and PTSD. Namely, that 36% (about 504,000) who suffer TBI, 50% (approximately 252,000) will develop Post Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE), and those soldiers with PTSD can experience non-epileptic seizures. Our soldiers and veterans are not being told of this possibility. For example, Mark (not his real name), served in Afghanistan and had multiple deployments. Four years ago he left the military. Mark had suffered a mild TBI, but did not seem to experience any lasting issues. That is until last month. Mark was riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle down the Interstate and had a seizure. Over the last month, Mark has had three surgeries and is trying to understand why he was not told of his potential of developing PTE. Can you imagine how devastating Mark's condition is to him and his family?
The seriousness of PTE is further complicated because there is currently no way of knowing who will or will not develop PTE...or when...some have developed PTE 30 or more years after the TBI.
It is high time we start talking about PTE!! Our veterans who have suffered a TBI or who are experiencing PTSD deserve to know what may lie ahead for them. This is a public health issue that everyone should be talking about, but no one is.
On Memorial Day 2013, Operation Outreach spent the day traveling Kentuckiana remembering the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for our freedoms. Starting out at the Clarksville, Indiana War Memorial, then visiting the National Cemetery at Cave Hill in Louisville, Kentucky, and finally to the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, in Louisville, Kentucky (see the gallery for pictures taken throughout the day). It was a day of tears and triumphs, regretting and rejoicing. Most of all, it was a day of free flowing gratitude for the sacrifices of soldiers and their families. Operation Outreach talked with two families at the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery whose stories stood out in our minds.
For the past 25 years, Pam Hinkle (far left) has visited her husband's grave at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery on Memorial Day. In her hand, a single red Rose to place on her late husband's grave. James Herbert Hinkle served in the United States Army in the Korean War. Mr. Hinkle survived the war. He died in 1988.
Mr. Hinkle's grandson (far right) will soon leave for the Marine Corp.
Richard Mouser's parents are both buried in a National Cemetery. Mr. Mouser's dad, Richard E. Mouser (United States Marine Corp.), is buried in New Albany, Indiana's National Cemetery. His mother, Elaine Mouser (United States Army), is buried at Zachary Taylor. Mr. Mouser paid his respects on Memorial Day even though he isn't getting around like he used to get around.
Operation Outreach talked with a lot of people this Memorial Day, some were visiting loved ones and some were just paying their respects to America's veterans. We would like to thank everyone that allowed us to talk with them about their loved ones. We are thankful for the sacrifices your family has endured.
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