[Excerpt] Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has become known as a “signature wound” of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). Several years into these operations, both Congress and the executive branch showed increased attention to the health care needs of servicemembers and veterans returning from deployments with injuries—and specifically the needs of those with TBI. For example, pursuant to the Traumatic Brain Injury Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-206), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) formed a Leadership Panel to (among other things) recommend ways for the four agencies to collaborate further to develop and improve TBI diagnosis and treatment. These four agencies have implemented many of the Leadership Panel’s recommendations, and in some cases implementation is ongoing. Congressional attention to TBI among veterans has continued as well.
This report focuses on current efforts of the VA’s Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to understand, identify, and treat TBI among veterans. It begins with an overview of TBI as background for the subsequent discussion of VA programs and services relevant to veterans with TBI, some of which focus on (or are limited to) OEF/OIF veterans.