Vets Struggling for Brain Injury Care

SPECIAL NOTE: If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury while serving, please let NPR know about your experience by clicking here.

Sgt. Brandon Sanford, 28, a dog handler who survived two roadside blasts in Iraq. Sanford endured a year of balance problems and mental fog before Fort Bliss officials sent him for cognitive therapy. (NPR)

War can wound whether or not it tears off a soldier’s leg or arm or eyeball.  In Iraq and Afghanistan, explosions rattle U.S. troops to the bone, to the brain. 

We’ve heard a lot, at last, about PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder. But straight up brain injury is another trademark – and invisible – wound of these wars. 

NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling and Pro Publica’s T. Christian Miller set out to see how soldiers with those war wounds are being treated. 

They found many struggling. Undiagnosed. Ignored.  

This Hour, On Point: veterans, traumatic brain injury, and war now.


Daniel Zwerdling, national corresondent and investigative reporter for NPR. His recent pieces on this issue, with T. Christian Miller, are “Military Failing to Diagnose Brain Injuries” and “With Traumatic Brain Injuries, Soldiers Face Battle for Care.”

T. Christian Miller, reporter for ProPublica, the non-profit investigative news organization. Click here to see his work on this. He and Daniel Zwerdling worked together on the investigative pieces.

Jaime Zagami, a 24-year-old Boston-area resident who has been helping and advocating for her 26-year-old brother, Jonathan, a veteran who was diagnosed with PSTD and TBI. An Army Reserves combat engineer who served in Iraq for 14 months, from 2003 to 2004, Jonathan suffered three head injuries while in theater — two from blasts and one from a kick in the head. Read the Boston Globe story about Jaime and Jonathan.


You can see accompanying slideshows here and here that complement the articles. See a timeline tracking how the issue of brain injuries has been handled by the U.S. military and government. And watch the related NPR video:

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