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This report deviates a bit from a focus on Brain Wound healing. It steps up to a strategic level and asks a hard question: What is it going to take to change the way the VA thinks about Veteran overall health and wellness? More importantly, how do we as a society get institutions to open up to obvious truths and accept that there is an additional way to think more broadly and ACT to heal wounds, reduce costs and suffering, and restore lives and families?


Memorial Day. Remembering. Reverence. Celebration. Resolve.

Speeches, TV Specials, Proclamations, documentaries, parades, fireworks and reverential religious ceremonies make clear on Memorial Day that we care about veterans and active duty service members, living and dead, who have fought and in too many cases died to preserve American freedoms. Lost in the “Rolling to Remember” rallies, in too many cases, are the avoidable deaths that are little noted nor long remembered.

“Suicide rates among active-duty military members are currently at an all-time high since record-keeping began after 9/11 and have been increasing over the past five years at an alarmingly steady pace. In fact, some branches of the Armed Forces are experiencing the highest rate of suicides since before World War II.” Rates of Special Operations deaths due to suicide may be even higher.

In 2021, research found that 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who served in the military after 9/11 have died by suicide – compared to the 7,057 service members killed in combat in those same 20 years. That is, military suicide rates are at least four times higher than deaths that occurred during military operations. [While those numbers are alarming, another DOD report catalogs an average of 6,100 Veteran suicides every year for 20 years, placing the likely number of suicides across active duty, veteran, National Guard, and Reserve service members at closer to 122,000 suicides.] Added to that figure must be those spouses and family members of service members who are suicide victims: in 2020, the same report found that 202 dependents died by suicide, including 133 spouses and 69 other dependents, and that firearms were the primary method of suicide death for both Service members and family members.

(For reference, CBS 60 Minutes, Vietnam 101, 4 Oct 86] broadcast that more than 100,000 Vietnam veterans were suicide victims. In 1988, a network news anchor [CBS Reports: The Wall Within, 2 Jun 88] asserted that between 26,000 and 100,000 suicides had occurred among Vietnam veterans depending on which reputable source you believe.”)

Suicide. Lethal. Final. And in too many cases preventable. If only. If only something or someone had noticed. If someone had taken the time to remember that as a nation we are not very good at diagnosing, let alone treating, some underlying damage done to warriors that have been called “unblooded wounds.” Invisible wounds. Shell shock. Soldier’s heart. Battle fatigue. PTSD. Traumatic Brain Injury. We’re good at studying and naming, but miserable at actually diagnosing and treating brain wounds that in too many cases lead to suicidal ideation.

Done properly — and the VA and DOD so far are not doing it properly — root cause analysis of the “mental health” condition of combat veterans and the families of those veterans, will discover an epidemic of brain wounds large and small among the force. The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) reported nearly 414,000 TBIs among U.S. service members worldwide between 2000 and late 2019. A more accurate estimate is that 877,450 brain wounds are festering among post-9/11 veterans. Mis-diagnosed and mal-diagnosed brain wounds are a plague among veterans, particularly those being mustered out of the military with Other Than Honorable discharges (estimated between 100,000 and 200,000 “bad paper” discharges since 9/11.)

And Memorial Day properly understood would also have a silent moment for Veterans who have suffered and died needlessly due to Lower Limb Amputations (LLAs). Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFUs) leading to LLAs have been responsible for 796,340 Veteran deaths since 9/11, more than all service member deaths since the start of World War I (624,147).

Wounds, whether to the feet or to the head, can be diagnosed and treated prior to avoidable death. Unfortunately, this is not reality. We can leave it to Inspectors General to discover whether the deaths are due to negligence, policy, institutional resistance, ignorance, mistakes, or simple bureaucratic “business as usual.” Wounds such as DFUs and brain injury can be safely and effectively treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). The FDA and CMS and medicine in general accept and use HBOT with insured coverage for DFUs. [Unanswered is the Question we have posed to the VA for years: “Why are veterans not even informed that HBOT is approved, available outside the VA, and insured?”] Over twenty peer-reviewed studies attest to the safety and efficacy of HBOT to treat and help heal brain wounds.

Since you’ve read this far, we owe it to those who died in service to the nation, those in the throes of suffering, and those who will volunteer to carry the burden of military service for us, to act on the knowledge that we can do better. These wounded men and women need not die. We must do better. We in the TreatNOW Coalition can point to over 21,000 safe and effective successes treating and healing brain wounds in the last decade. Ten states have passed legislation calling for the use of Hyperbaric Oxygenation to heal brain wounds/TBI/PTSD. Congress is awakening with Bills from Congressman Murphy, MD and Senator Tuberville calling for action.

We’re winning, just not fast enough.

Information provided by does not constitute a medical recommendation. It is intended for informational purposes only, and no claims, either real or implied, are being made.

Heal Brains. Stop Suicides. Restore Lives. TreatNOW*