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  • One Veteran’s Delayed Diagnosis

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    Retired Army National Guard 1st Lt. Sam Console on his tour in Iraq in 2005. (Photo by Sam Console)

    Sometimes we encounter frustrations in our daily routine—an important package delivered late or being struck in traffic come to mind. For Samuel Console, a retired Pennsylvania Army National Guard lieutenant, lateness was more than a simple annoyance. His traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis occurred six years after an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up next to his Humvee.

    In 2005, Console was a combat engineer in Iraq searching out and quarantining IEDs, which he encountered often.

    “We knew the area we were going to was very hot,” said Console. “We were going out and putting protective barrier around polling sites. Our mission was at night … when you can’t see IEDs.”

    The last thing Console remembers after the explosion is an orange flash of light. “I came to and said ‘IED!’ but it had happened seconds before,” he said. “I couldn’t hear anything because my ears were ringing so loud.”

  • Toolkit Helps Treat Patients with Co-occurring Conditions

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    Treating patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be challenging because TBI symptoms can sometimes resemble a number of psychological health conditions. Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) developed Co-occurring Conditions Toolkit: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health to provide guidance on the assessment and management of patients with the co-occurring conditions of concussion, post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, depression and substance use disorder.

    The tool kit is a user-friendly, comprehensive clinical guidance tool for primary care providers, featuring evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and recommendations from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. It provides tips for an effective first appointment; guidance on clinical assessment; treatment recommendations; medication information; and patient education websites.

  • ‘Real Warriors, Real Advice’ Podcasts Motivate People to Reach Out

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    Senior Airman Christopher Yellig with 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, surveys the area during a routine patrol outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheila deVera)

    A new weekly Real Warriors Campaign podcast series, “Real Warriors, Real Advice,” wants your attention. With service members, veterans and military families lending their voices and personal stories, the podcasts stress the importance of seeking psychological health care and developing resilience.

    “The campaign’s podcasts are a great resource to connect with audiences and share the message that seeking care or support is a sign of strength that benefits the entire military community,” said Col. Christopher Robinson, Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), deputy director for psychological health. “It’s so valuable to hear warriors share their knowledge, experiences and best practices for building and maintaining psychological resilience.”

  • Frontline Psych with Doc Bender: 24/7 Help at Veterans Crisis Line

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    Doc Bender on top of the Ziggurat of Ur in Southern Iraq, in February 2009.

    Dr. James Bender is a former Army psychologist who deployed to Iraq as the brigade psychologist for the 1st Cavalry Division 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Hood, Texas. During his deployment, he traveled through Southern Iraq, from Basra to Baghdad. He writes a monthly post for the DCoE Blog on psychological health concerns related to deployment and being in the military.

    Hello. A friend at work recently asked me about patient confidentiality and suicide prevention hotlines. After our discussion, and speaking with a few others, my informal poll told me chances are there may be misinformation floating around. So I reached out to Patricia Lucas, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention coordinator for the Washington, D.C. area, and decided to spotlight a free, confidential resource for service members and veterans in emotional crisis this month—Veterans Crisis Line.

    Partnered with VA and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the crisis line is available 24/7 by calling 800-273-TALK (8255) and pressing “1,” online chat or text message to 838255. In five years, the crisis line has fielded more than 500,000 calls and made more than 18,000 “rescues” where emergency services went to the caller’s location.

  • Brain Injury Awareness: Tell Your Story on YouTube

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    Courtney King Dye, an Olympian horse rider, talks about her traumatic brain injury and advocates for Riders4Helmets. (Video courtesy of Centers for Disease Control)

    You have a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A lot has changed for you, but you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually. Think of the stories they could tell to help others learn about TBI prevention, improve understanding, increase knowledge, and get help. CDC encourages you and people who care about brain injury to share stories online at their Heads Up Film Festival YouTube page and Heads Up Facebook page.

    The film festival gives brain injury a voice by allowing people with TBI to share their stories. You can talk about anything and everything in a video that gives meaning to your experience, then upload it to YouTube and tag it with “Heads Up Film Festival.” What caused your brain injury? What changes are you coping with? Name some awesome resources that make your recovery possible. Share what hurts, what helps, who listens, who cares.

  • How to Prevent TBI

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    Marine Sgt. DeJesus Gardner throws a jab at Army Sgt. Marvin Carey during the finals of the 2012 Armed Forces Boxing Championship at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Gardner won the match 14-13. (Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio)

    You may have heard these sayings growing up: “wear a helmet,” “look both ways before you cross the street” and “fasten your seat belt.” You likely heard it from someone who cared about your safety and well-being. Following these instructions can reduce your chances of being seriously injured in an accident. When it comes to preventing traumatic brain injury (TBI), the same safety measures apply whether you’re in uniform or not. The majority of TBIs in the military actually happen off the battlefield when someone is involved in a motor vehicle crash or gets injured during a sporting or recreational event.

    The most prevalent type of brain injury affecting service members and civilians is mild TBI, also known as concussion. Some common symptoms include: headaches or neck pain that won’t go away; difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions; dizziness or loss of balance; blurred vision or eyes that tire easily; and ringing in the ears. Although not life threatening, these symptoms can interfere with one’s normal routine, making once easy tasks harder to perform. Most people completely recover from a concussion, unlike moderate or severe TBI where long-term or life-long care is often necessary.