When it comes to treating brain injuries in war, the U.S. isn’t getting any better at it, an investigation by NPR and Pro Publica shows.
In a series that begins today, investigators found military doctors routinely misdiagnose “mild traumatic brain injuries.”
But it’s the final conclusion of the series that remains the most troubling. Even after they’re injured in service to their country, U.S. soldiers have to fight for appropriate treatment, especially in the face of the occasional doctor who thinks a soldier is faking it.
“One of the first things you learn as a soldier is that you never leave a man behind,” said soldier Michelle Dyarman, 45. “I was left behind.”
What is upsetting about the report is that it repeats in astonishing clarity, the situation before Congress vowed to change things. They dedicated $1.7 billion to research and treatment of traumatic brain injury and PTSD. They passed a law requiring the military to test soldiers’ cognitive functions before and after deployment so brain injuries wouldn’t go undetected, according to NPR.
But, the report says, the military did little to try to overcome the “gung ho” attitude of soldiers to “shake injuries off” and stay with their comrades.
Here’s a preview of the series, which can be heard this afternoon on All Things Considered.