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Brain Wars

How the Military Is Failing Its Wounded

While military statistics show that more than 115,000 soldiers have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries, unpublished research suggests that such injuries have gone undiagnosed in tens of thousands of troops. Even when the injuries are diagnosed, at one of the largest U.S. Army bases, soldiers have had to fight to get the appropriate care.

For Brain-Injured Soldiers, Top Quality Care From a Philanthropist, not the Pentagon

At Project Share, started by philanthropist Bernie Marcus, brain-injured troops get cognitive therapy rehabilitation to relearn basic tasks of life -- care the Pentagon's Tricare health plan won't pay for.

Pentagon Health Plan Won't Cover Brain-Damage Therapy for Troops

The Pentagon’s health care program run by Tricare denies coverage of cognitive rehabilitation to troops with traumatic brain injuries, claiming the treatment does not meet their standards, despite medical groups’ consensus that it improves the quality of life and despite criticism of the study Tricare did to justify its position.

How Our FOIA Request Was Blocked, and Why We're Still Pursuing It

A FOIA request for documents on a Tricare-commissioned study that concluded cognitive rehabilitation therapy was not effective was met with contradictory denials and explanations from Tricare and the company that did the study.

Troubles Plague Top Job at Pentagon Office Overseeing Brain Injuries

Col. Robert Saum, the director of the Pentagon's program to oversee the treatment of troops with brain injuries, has been transferred pending investigation into an an employee's accusations that he made unwanted sexual advances and created a hostile work environment.

Congresswoman Calls for Review of Purple Heart Decisions

Rep. Chellie Pingree, a House Armed Services Committee member, says soldiers with concussions should be recognized if they meet the Army’s criteria.

Pentagon Spokesman Wrong on Purple Heart

An error, though soon corrected, shows confusion about medals for soldiers with brain trauma.

Soldiers With Brain Trauma Denied Purple Hearts, Adding Insult to Injury

Soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries have been denied Purple Hearts, even though the injury is specifically mentioned as eligible for one.

Fact Sheet: Traumatic Brain Injury

Rep. Teague Pledges Deeper Inquiry Into Treatment for Brain-Injured Soldiers

Rep. Harry Teague promises to dramatically expand an inquiry into the treatment of soldiers who have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries. The New Mexico Democrat opened his investigation after our reports that the military seemed to be ignoring many of those injuries.

Fort Bliss Says It Will Examine Its Handling of Brain Injuries

After soldiers' reports of problems, officials at Fort Bliss tell a congressman that they will review the base's care for traumatic brain injuries. But the base is now providing information that seems to contradict earlier statements.

Pentagon Shifts Its Story About Departure of Leader of Brain Injury Center

The Pentagon now says that a general who led the military’s effort to handle brain injuries was asked to step down. A spokeswoman for the general had earlier said that the reassignment was routine.

Pentagon Issues New Policy for Diagnosing and Treating Brain Injuries

The new rules address weaknesses in the handling of mild traumatic brain injuries, requiring rest periods and enhanced tracking for soldiers exposed to blasts.

Brain Wars: The Story So Far

Leader of Military’s Program to Treat Brain Injuries Steps Down Abruptly

After criticism of her program's work, an Army general resigns as the director of a center that focuses on troops' brain injuries. ProPublica and NPR have reported that the military is failing to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries in many troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress Demands Answers on Brain Injury Care at Texas Base

Three congressmen are questioning officials at Fort Bliss about soldiers' frustrations in getting treatment for concussions. An investigation by ProPublica and NPR found that soldiers at the Texas base struggled to receive diagnosis and care for their injuries.

Soldier Brain Injuries to Get Senate Scrutiny After ProPublica, NPR Report

Responding to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, Sen. Carl Levin said he would expand a hearing on soldier suicides to include a more extensive discussion of the military’s handling of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Top Officer Says Military Takes Brain Injuries 'Extremely Seriously'

The Army's vice chief of staff says it takes the treatment of soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries "very seriously." Gen. Peter Chiarelli said the military plans to evaluate soldiers exposed to nearby blasts by two separate tests before being returned to the battlefield. But our investigation has found problems with the tests now being used.

At Fort Bliss, Brain Injury Treatments Can Be as Elusive as Diagnosis

Even when traumatic brain injury is diagnosed in soldiers, treatment can be hard to come by. At Fort Bliss, Texas, a building to screen for such injuries remains closed nearly a year after its completion.

After Our Investigation, Pentagon Puts Its Spin on Brain Injuries

The Pentagon sent out a talking points memo that makes it sound as if it's doing all it can to treat brain injuries, which our investigation says is not the case. Though it's not a direct response to our investigation, it says that the U.S. offers the "world's best TBI medical care for our service members."

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