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Soldier’s TBI May Be Implicated in Afghanistan Massacre

It has been revealed that the US soldier allegedly responsible for the nighttime massacre of 16 Afghanistan civilians in their homes on Sunday suffered a past Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The soldier, who was on his fourth deployment at the time of the incident, was reportedly in a rollover accident in 2010 and treated for TBI.

At this time it is unclear whether his TBI played a part in the heinous incident, and the public is cautioned that it is premature to positively state that his alleged actions were the result of his TBI.

It is unfortunate that we will no-doubt see discussion of this link as fact. While we await the true facts to be released, it does create good discussion on a topic that is too often dismissed, not only for our soldiers but for those in the general public who suffer TBI.

In light of what happened to this soldier in 2010 and his alleged victims in 2012, I want to take a few moments to remind readers about what we historically speaking, have only fairly recently learned about TBI:

  • TBI can happen even without an exterior blow to the head or a concussion
  • The effects of TBI can be transient or long lasting, and can include increased number of or more severe Migraine
    attacks as well as Chronic Daily Headache (CDH)
  • TBI often results in *broken connections* within the brain that can reveal themselves as mental dysfunction
    including but not limited to mood disorders, psychiatric disturbance (including aggression and inhibition) and
    Cognitive difficulties

2009 estimates indicated of the 1.5 million Americans estimated to survive TBI each year, only about 10% of them suffer ongoing problems as a result of their injury. In the case of disrupted brain circuitry, the damage is likely permanent and treatment is often necessary.

A new 2012 study published in the journal Headache found that (CDH) resembling chronic Migraine was 4-5 times higher in veterans after a concussion than the general population, and strongly associated with increased risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Because of fear and stigma re: mental illness and Migraine, it’s likely that many TBI patients choose to try to live silently with their symptoms instead of seeking help they may need to function in society. In the case of soldiers, seeking help often means losing their jobs and an uncertain future. The emotional distress created by stigma and uncertainty can exacerbate an already fragile condition, perhaps to the point of breakdown.

How do you think we can help to eliminate the stigma associated with TBI injuries and the associated neurologic and psychiatric fallout that results

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

1. Press Release. “Seeking the Roots of a US Soldier’s Shooting Rampage”, New York, NY, Reuters March 12, 2012 2. Press Release. “U.S. soldier in Afghan massacre had brain injury: official,” Washington DC, Reuters March 12, 2012. 3. Dennis, Kyle C, PhD. “Current Perspectives on Traumatic Brain Injury”. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.2009 4. Theeler, Brett J., MD; Flynn, Frederick G., DO; Erickson, Jay C., MD, PhD. “Chronic Daily Headache in U.S. Soldiers After Concussion.” Headache;”Early View” March 8, 2012.


  • Marco Christy Montoya
    7 years ago

    I certainly hope that this is not a ploy or media tactic to negate the severity of his actions. Considering America’s Foreign Relations are seen at an all time low, this could not have happened at a worse time historically speaking. As the wife of a Veteran, I know all too well the costs to our soldiers and their families during war-time actions, along with the long term affects. I support our soldiers, their family and our administration whether or not I agree or disagree with the politics behind it. Having said this, regardless of possible medical condition, he broke all rules and regulations and therefore stands to be punished and deservedly so. The only possible difference a medical or mental condition stands to serve for this soldier is the difference between life or death.

  • Kristin Dieng
    7 years ago

    SO perfectly said, thank you for writing your comment in the words you did.

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