Healing the Hidden Wounds

I read with shock and gratitude at the Washington Post's special report "The Cost of War: Traumatic Brain Injury,"

I had known Lt Col Tim Maxwell.  He was a patient at the National Naval Medical Center when I had the honor to work as the Public Affairs Officer from 2003 to 2005.

Maxwell is an amazing man who continued to look after the Marines, even after his traumatic injury -- Maxwell Hall in Camp LeJeune was named in his honor; and I will always be amazed by his incredible work ethic.

TBI is a horrific injury that in many ways is unlike a limb injury that can be more easily identified, treated and rehabilitated.  Worst, since its hidden, people may not be aware and discriminate against TBI patients who may come across as being rude, inconsiderate or forgetful.  And the effects of TBI can change over time.

Vice Admiral Adam Robinson, the Surgeon General of the Navy believes that nobody returns home from combat without at least some degree of post-traumatic stress. 

"If you are involved in combat and combat operations, you have post-traumatic stress," he said. 

Even those not physically involved in combat, but operating within the combat theater, are at risk, he said. "If you are exposed to the tension and to the stress of a deployment, you are a candidate to develop post-traumatic stress." 

"I did not say you have a disorder," Admiral Robinson emphasized. "So when I talk about PTS, I don't add the 'D' for 'disorder.' Because we know that if we treat it and treat it effectively, we can actually obviate the disorder. If we can stave off the 'D,' we are ahead of the game." 

Let's hope we can truly stave off the "D" and continue to make advances in TBI diagnosis and treatment for all victims of brain injury.

Kudos once again to Christian Davenport and the Washington Post for such a great piece of journalism -- telling the incredible stories of the home front and warfront and giving the rest of us a closer perspective to what these brave men and women have experienced and sacrificed so that we can continue to live in peace.


  1. Great piece Chito. I have often felt the same way. For those that have been been through the realities of war as seldom as once or repeatedly over the past 9 years - to say one has not been in some way affected is to so nearly say you are not capable of feeling. But I whole heartily agree, that Post Traumatic Stress does not have do coincide with a disability or disorder. The minute we stop being affected by war is the minute we become cold and heartless human beings without a soul.
    Damone Brown - Army Ranger and Green Beret

  2. Thanks Damone for your commitment to communicate the right message to the greater public. You are a role model for all TBI patients and for the rest of us. I am happy and hopeful for greater advancements especially with the new National Intrepid Center of Excellence.

  3. I am quite certain that my brother has PTSD, though not sure he's been physically injured. It's difficult to talk to him, and it's compounded by being half a generation apart. It's a shame anyone has to suffer these consequences at all.