New York State Division of Veterans' Services

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden injury occurs to the brain. This can occur from something such as a minor blow to the head to as severe as an object penetrating the brain. Symptoms can be as mild as a headache or as extreme as a coma. Veterans and the military are particularly hard hit by incidents of TBI. From 2000 – 2020, over 430,000 servicemembers have been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. Over 80% of these cases occurred in non-combat environments such as motor vehicle accidents during training exercises. (CDC, VA)

In-service events that can cause a Traumatic Brain Injury include (among others):

  • Suffering a bullet wound or fragment wound above the shoulders
  • Being near a blast or explosion
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falls
  • Any other incident involving a sudden jolt or blow to the head

Traumatic Brain Injury falls into three main types:

  • Mild TBI or concussion – most TBI’s that occur each year are mild or concussions. This is caused by a either a direct blow or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.
  • Moderate TBI – a more severe injury to the head. Both moderate and severe TBI tend to lead to long term medical conditions.
  • Severe TBI – penetrating injury to the head, such as a gunshot wound. Typically life-threatening and life altering for survivors.

Traumatic Brain Injury can cause a range of reactions. In response to TBI, Veterans may:

  • Have difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Be repeating themselves
  • Become easily angered or frustrated.

Some common symptoms can include:

  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • hearing problems
  • difficulty speaking
  • dizziness, and others

Veterans who have been diagnosed with TBI are more than twice as likely to die by suicide compared to those without that diagnosis. (VA) Firearm related suicide is the most common cause of TBI-related deaths in the United States (CDC). Studies of servicemembers and Veterans with TBI suggest they may:

  • have ongoing and persistent symptoms
  • experience co-occurring health conditions, such as PTSD and depression
  • have difficulty accessing healthcare – especially mental health services
  • report thinking about or planning a suicide attempt.

If you the Veteran or a family member of a Veteran suspect you are suffering from the symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury, get in touch immediately with your health care provider as even mild TBI can lead to long term consequences. If your healthcare provider is the VA, reach out as soon as possible to your provider for assistance. Ask your primary care practitioner to help you make an appointment for VA mental health services.

The symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury vary from person to person, but one thing remains the same: the importance of receiving medical attention to monitor and treat your injuries.

Additional Information

If you’re a veteran and are not already using VA for your healthcare needs, contact your closest VA medical center or Vet Center to talk about your needs. If you suspect you have a Traumatic Brain Injury, you can find the nearest facility by clicking on this Link.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, thoughts about self-harm or causing harm to others, contact the VA’s Crisis Helpline: 1.800.273.8255, press 1.

Additional Assistance:

If you would like to learn more about the benefits and services you may be eligible for as a Veteran, servicemember, or as a family member of a Veteran or servicemember, please call the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services Help Line at 1.888.838.7697 (VETSNYS), where you may also schedule an appointment with one of our Veterans Benefits Advisors.

You can receive financial compensation from the VA for the adverse impacts of a Traumatic Brain Injury that you sustained in military service. Beside using our 888 number to book an appointment, you can book an online virtual or telephone appointment with us through our website by clicking here.

We also know that a Traumatic Brain Injury can lead someone to act in a manner that is out of character for them. We understand that sometimes this can lead to adverse consequences from the military chain of command under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or UCMJ. That is why New York’s Restoration of Honor Act provides a pathway for Veterans unjustly issued a less-than-honorable discharge due to behavior related to a Traumatic Brain Injury to have their access to state Veterans’ benefits restored. To learn more about the Restoration of Honor Act, and to submit a Restoration of Honor Act Application, click here.

Schedule an Appointment with a Veterans Benefits Advisor

1-888-VETS-NYS

(1-888-838-7697)

Contact a Veterans Benefits Advisor

Find a Veterans Benefits Advisor Near You!

or

Schedule an Appointment with a Veterans Benefits Advisor

1-888-VETS-NYS

(1-888-838-7697)

Contact a Veterans Benefits Advisor

Find a Veterans Benefits Advisor Near You!

or