Army starting brain injury education
By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press
The Army is launching an education program to teach 1 million soldiers how to recognize symptoms of brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress disorder, the two signature injuries of the Iraq war.
The program aims to encourage troops to get treatment — and to help erase the stigma of doing so, Army officials said Tuesday.
Beginning next week, the Army will start a program to educate the entire Army within 90 days, whether at home or overseas, and including active military, the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard.
Everyone is to receive a one-hour briefing on brain injuries and stress, in which teachers will be equipped with videos, slides and a list of expected questions and answers. It will be done through a rarely used "chain teach" program, that is, the subject is taught to leaders, who then teach it to soldiers, continuing down through the Army's chain of command.
The program is one of many being taken by the Army and the Department of Defense to try to keep up with the wounded and injured from an Iraq conflict that has gone on longer than expected — and with a rising number of patients that has overwhelmed the system.
The insurgent tactic of using roadside bombs is the top killer in Iraq and also responsible for brain injuries ranging from mild concussions up to severe trauma. Exposure to combat, especially for long and repeated tours, also has caused increasing stress and mental health problems among soldiers.
Officials say as much as 20 percent of troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with stress symptoms or brain injury.