Many men and women come home from these recent conflicts having sustained serious injuries, both visible and invisible. Some of the more traditional injuries remain common: amputations, burns, loss of hearing, and crush injuries, to name a few. But the “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, doctors say, is traumatic brain injury (TBI). An estimated 31 percent of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan reported experiencing a TBI or have a mental health condition, according to the RAND Corp.’s report Invisible Wounds of War.
These types of injuries often leave soldiers or veterans feeling unlike themselves – as if something is wrong, but they can’t say what. A TBI can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty remembering things or paying attention, problems sleeping, and mood swings. The symptoms often mimic stress or anxiety, so the injury can seem less severe or real. Oftentimes, friends and family are the ones who notice a problem.