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When someone talk about the long-term consequences of war, let’s talk about the men and women who came home from war,nThe 500,000 who came home with PTSD and traumatic brain injury. We hope that in the midst of all of this discussion this country makes certain that we do not turn our backs on the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend us.

The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that between 11 and 20 percent of veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) have PTSD in a given year. As of late 2014, about 2.7 million troops had served in Iraq or Afghanistan. That’s a wide range: 11 percent of 2.7 million is 297,000; 20 percent is 540,000.

 U.S. Senate resolution identifies “more than 390,000” cases of PTSD among veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn in Afghanistan, citing the secretary of Veterans Affairs as its source.

Those figures only account for PTSD, not traumatic brain injury, or TBI, which Sanders also referenced.

2013 Congressional Research Service paper on traumatic brain injury found that almost 57,000 Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans were evaluated or treated for “a condition possibly related to TBI” by the VA.

That number is slippery though. It’s not clear that all of those nearly 57,000 actually received a TBI diagnosis, and it doesn’t account for the potentially thousands more veterans who experienced a traumatic brain injury but did not receive care through the VA.

The VA also estimates that brain injuries account for 22 percent of all combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Defense Department, meanwhile, identifies 333,169 instances of traumatic brain injury among service members between 2000 and 2015. That’s a big number, but there are some caveats that come with it: It includes all U.S. forces, not just those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and is overwhelmingly comprised of concussions and “mild TBI” that by definition lasts less than 24 hours.

Also worth noting: that same U.S. Senate resolution noting 390,000 PTSD cases also references “more than 615,000” veterans of recent conflicts who have been diagnosed with “at least 1 mental health disorder.”

Disabled veterans use baking to work through PTSD symptoms


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