New York Times: USMC Blast Injury Update

Partial Explanation why Marines report Highest Suicide Rate since 2011, Navy since 2019

Dave Philipps, Pulitzer prize-winning and NYT reporter, has filed another report on continuing investigations into BLAST injury. He does it through a look at the US strategy of using firepower to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “A Secret War, Strange New Wounds, and Silence From the Pentagon” tells a sad tale but neglects a open secret: blast injury has been known for decades to cause brain wounds. “Strange New Wounds” have been known for fifteen years as “THE INVISIBLE WOUNDS OF WAR.”

“An investigation by The New York Times found that many of the troops sent to bombard the Islamic State in 2016 and 2017 returned to the United States plagued by nightmares, panic attacks, depression and, in a few cases, hallucinations. Once-reliable Marines turned unpredictable and strange. Some are now homeless. A striking number eventually died by suicide, or tried to.”

Too many of the wounded were forced out of the military without any medical help. The Epoch Times did a long two-part report on the same maladies caused by the deployment that led to tens of thousands of concussive friendly-fire BLAST waves hitting the artillerymen. The stories in the Epoch Times drew attention to the work of USJAG. Robert Alvarez, Nic Gray, and Jeremy “Weed” Sorenson are doing the heavy lifting exposing the unreported brain wounding and the downhill slide into Other Than Honorable discharges for too many of these wounded warriors. USJAG and a few intrepid reporters are uncovering the systemic flaws in our “mental health” approach to unrecognized physical damage wrought by war. And they are seeking redress of the further damage done by bureaucracies ignorant of the pain and suffering of the brain wounded.

The military and the VA continue in their willful ignorance about the reality of brain wounding and the scourge of TBI/PTSD injuries going unreported, undiagnosed, and untreated. Worse, lacking a service-wide education about the reality of brain wounding and its impact on behavior and performance and readiness of individuals, and the force more broadly, the wounded will continue to be mistreated by a medical community and command structure that has little sense of urgency about the need to treat brain wounds.

A curious and ineffective response has set in, reminiscent of the dilatory approach to Burn Pits and Agent Orange. “Paralysis through analysis” has taken hold once again. “We need to study the problem.” “We just don’t know enough yet.” Meanwhile the suicide rate continues its upward trend and the researchers claim they need more time and money before they¬† can even know what has happened. Time and again, the focus is on diagnosis, to the detriment of the wounded who continue to deteriorate, without even health insurance, disability payments, and an end to their careers. And treatments that have been proven safe, effective, and low-cost — and which can be employed immediately — are disdained as unproven, unsafe, too risky, too costly, and lacking in evidence. The simple fact is that medicine is willfully ignorant about hyperbaric medicine and likely to stay that way, despite overwhelming evidence, without intervention by Congress and the White House, as with Burn Pits.

Here are five take-aways from the NYT study:

** To defeat ISIS, the United States relied on artillery crews firing more intensively than any had in generations.

** Many members of the gun crews developed devastating and puzzling symptoms.

** When the troops started to act strangely, they were often treated ineffectively or punished.

** Studies are starting to reveal the risk posed by blast exposure, but progress is slow.

** The military says it now has safeguards to protect from blasts, but it is not clear that much has changed.

Here are five ALERTS to those who are still wondering if BLAST injuries exist. Brain wounding from friendly fire is not merely a Mental Health issue. Impaired performance is not the the victim’s fault due to personal weakness, nor is it amenable to talk therapy and drugs that merely mask symptoms.

** The ground-breaking 2016 Lancet study sponsored by the Defense Health Program of the United States Department of Defense states: “scientific literature from the past 100 years shows that a substantial percentage of blast-exposed service members have persistent neurological or behavioral symptomatology.”

** Breacher Syndrome and “Operator Syndrome” are real. Science and research will catch up to reality on the ground, facts which should be obvious to anyone paying attention.

** The modern Carl Gustav recoiless rifle, in operation since at least 1984, comes with warnings not to fire more than six rounds in a 24-hour period. The Danes seem to have understood BLAT damage four decades ago.

** Shoot rooms instructors and EOD personnel are well-known to suffer inordinately from recurring blasts and subconcussive impacts over years of exposure — not unlike athletes subjected to repetitive head impacts.

** The “Invisible Wounds of War” are no longer “invisible” to anyone who cares about “root cause analysis”. While brain wounds happen inside the head (and are frequently part of the polytrauma of combat), they can be “seen” via scans, functional and physiological outputs, symptom recognition, self-reporting, and careful diagnostics. Neglecting to diagnose and to treat brain wounds while waiting for more science in the face of a suicide epidemic is essentially medical malpractice. We KNOW, and we choose to shift the blame onto the victim or the “inadequacy” of scientific research.

Continuing malfeasance. US troops at two airbases in Iraq were injured during a Jan. 8, 2020 Iranian missile attack on Al Asad Air base. Once again, even years after Blast injury was finally recognized as a direct cause of brain wounds the US initially declared that no one was hurt in the attack. Dozens of diagnoses later, we now recognize BLAST injuries riddled those under the hail of missiles. (Just imagine the damage being done in Ukraine and the Middle East.)

One is reminded of the early military culture around Burn Pits: “nothing to see here; no damage.” We know more now, and the VA, at least, presumes that proximity to Burn Pit toxic clouds causes physical damage and accepts responsibility to treat and help heal that damage. How long will it take the DoD and the VA to recognize that Blast damage is real, and can cause physical wounds to the brain and body? Further, how long before they link brain wounds to suicidal ideation? And that there is a treatment — Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) — that virtually eliminates suicidal ideation and helps heal those brain wounds without drugs and other ineffective interventions?

The TreatNOW Coalition, alongside USJAG, has begun working with some of the casualties of the bombardments. USJAG are the pro bono advocates for those accused of Other Than Honorable behavior and subjected to fraudulent and penalizing discharges.

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The TreatNOW Coalition’s pro bono Mission is to end service member suicides. The USMC reported this week that suicides are at an all-time high. TreatNOW HBOT Coalition clinics have demonstrated 100% safety and over 90% success in treating over 21,000 service members, Special Operators, first responders, athletes, and citizens with TBI/PTSD/Concussion. Brain Wounds like those described here can be successfully and safely treated and helped to heal with HBOT.

Heal Brains. Stop Suicides. Restore Lives. TreatNOW


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