It’s time to serve those who have served

17 Aug

ImageBy: Danielle Smith, MSW, MA, LSW

Executive Director

Today I had the privilege of attending the TriCare Awareness Day at the Ohio National Guard base at Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus. I was asked to attend so that I could learn more about the National Guard and how social workers can become providers of health care services for the population.

I ask all healthcare professionals- physicians, psychologists, counselors and of course social workers- to become in-network providers or accept TriCare health insurance.  The health insurance program is available for active duty service members, National Guard members, Reservists, retired military personnel, and families.  It is important to expand the number of providers who accept the insurance to better serve those who have served our country.

For more information visit

As part of the Awareness Day, Chrisanne Gordon, MD of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation presented on the impact of Traumatic Brain Injury on the Warrior and the Family.  The main point of Dr. Gordon’s presentation is to always think Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) first when working with service members.  Often presenting symptoms are viewed as PTSD only without considering or asking if the person suffered a brain injury.  Since September 11, 2001 2 million service members have been deployed with an estimated 300,000 cases of PTSD and 400,000 cases of TBI.  TBIs can be caused by blast injuries (IED, RPG, mortars); vehicular accidents; falls; direct hits; assault; anoxic injury (drowning, vascular compromise, choking, etc).  Also keep in mind that loss of consciousness is not required to meet the diagnosis of a TBI.  For these reasons many service members do not realize that they have had a TBI.

As social workers we need to know the physical, mental, and social signs of a TBI.  The physical symptoms are sensitivity to light, intense hearing ability, sensory overload, loss of mapping skills, pituitary dysfunction, chronic headaches, and memory problems.  The mental symptoms are co-morbidity of substance use (both downers like marijuana and uppers like caffeine), changes in personality, and irritability.  Social symptoms include relationship issues and problems with authority.  If a client says:

  • I used to know this stuff
  • Why can’t I think?!
  • What? When did you tell me?
  • Keep it down
  • Why don’t you/I understand?
  • Get off my back

It could be a sign of a TBI.  As Sir William Osler said, “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis.”

For more information about TBI and Dr. Gordon visit:


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