Army Still Discharging Traumatic Brain Injury Patients
Without Benefits, Any Way It Can
Sgt. Darren Mischke got hurt bad in Iraq.
A two-tour vet, he was in a wreck tour one, and knocked out. In his second tour, his vehicle was mortared. He has Traumatic Brain Injury.
Like many chronic pain, PTSD, and depression patients, he became a different person, a different "I" from the person his family had always known.
Happens. But the Army, consistently has been taking the easy way out, and shoving soldiers out any way they can, rather than rate them properly.
Colorado ConfidentialIn addition to the already noted 30,000 injured veterans from Iraq, a full 20,000 more at least likely have TBI. But not on the official casualty rolls of the Iraq war. (It's the fucking Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium fights all over again.)
"I told him to get help," Teresa Mischke said. "He told me he'd get in trouble with his unit. He said one of his superiors had told him he'd make his life a living hell."
Shortly thereafter, Darren Mischke, pain-riddled and confused, turned abusive, then suicidal. His wife, trying to save him, called 911.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Department "arrested him for domestic violence and the District Attorney's office fast-tracked him to plead guilty," Teresa Mischke said.
The third-degree assault plea became the basis for an attempt by the Army to give Mischke a general discharge.
"He would have nothing, no insurance and limits on his VA coverage," his wife said.
Working with the advocacy group Veterans for America, Teresa Mischke pushed the military to send her husband to a medical review board.
The medical board talked about depression and post traumatic stress, but not brain injury. The diagnosis didn't help. Eventually, a military doctor decided Sgt. Mischke suffered from "post concussive syndrome," but offered no regimen of treatment, his wife said.
"He's actually worse now than when he came home from Iraq," she added.
USA TodayTBI can be hard to pick up initially. You don't always know you have it, just perhaps that something is wrong. That 20,000 additional number comes from looking at records from the VA and just four key bases.
At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.
The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.
The number of brain-injury cases were tabulated from records kept by the VA and four military bases that house units that have served multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Soldiers and Marines whose wounds were discovered after they left Iraq are not added to the official casualty list, says Army Col. Robert Labutta, a neurologist and brain injury consultant for the Pentagon.
More than 150,000 troops may have suffered head injuries in combat, says Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force.
"I am wary that the number of brain-injured troops far exceeds the total number reported injured," he says.
What would happen if ALL of the troops who have served over the last years were examined?
The debt continues to climb.