Each war brings with it unique injuries and health afflictions for those who fight. For Iraq and Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices have led to extensive traumatic brain injuries and loss of limbs.
But those wounds aren’t the beginning and end of the kind of health problems this generation of the military is facing. Among those singled out by a Senate report: skin cancer, epilepsy, sleep disorders, hydrocephalus and chronic pain disorders.
Some of the conditions are interrelated, as described by the Appropriations Committee draft report for the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill. The report was obtained by CQ.com. The Subcommittee on Appropriations approved the bill Tuesday, and the full panel is set to do so Thursday.
Epilepsy, for instance, could be related to traumatic brain injuries:
The Committee is concerned about the large number of service men and women returning from the Persian Gulf Wars and Afghanistan who have sustained traumatic brain injuries [TBI] and the long-term consequences of TBI. These wounded warriors are at high risk for developing posttraumatic epilepsy, depression, cognitive difficulties, and posttraumatic stress disorder, which may be interconnected. As current TBI longitudinal studies have not include epilepsy, the Committee encourages the Department to place greater priority and invest more funding in longitudinal epidemiological research, including epilepsy surveillance, to better understand the magnitude and outcomes.
The panel sets aside $7.5 million for epilepsy research, and suggests the Defense Department expand research on the link between brain injuries and epilepsy.