Military Accountability for Soldiers with TBI and Substance Abuse Issues

For service members with mild TBI and substance abuse issues, their job is to get better. Their command works with them to get them better and back to their units.

This is an excerpt from BrainLine's webcast Substance Abuse and TBI. See full webcast here.

In the military community, is it seeing any more success with treatment than in the civilian population? I'm not sure if we can say we have more success, but we have more advantages in the military community. We have more control over our population. Their job is actually to get better.[Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control] They're getting their paycheck; they're getting their housing. They're getting their health insurance. They have a number of advantages that the civilian community doesn't have-- because of them being in the military-- and they're more accountable or held more accountable because the Command has a very much vested interest in are they going to get better and get back to duty. So I think we have a lot more advantages in the military community than we do in the civilian community in treating this. Well sometimes, like athletes--I think servicemembers hide their symptoms so that they can return to their Unit. How do you know when it's safe for a servicemember to return to combat after a TBI that's then compounded by issues of drug and alcohol abuse? Well, we don't rely solely on the individual member's report of how well they're doing. And an important key component in treatment is aftercare. You can go through the program and be an inpatient, but in aftercare, that's where you really get better. In the military population we have a significant aftercare program-- are they maintaining their sobriety? Are they working the program, are they going to meetings? How well are they functioning at work? The Command has a vested interest. There's a lot of observation. And in addition--with a TBI we, in the military setting, also have the luxury of doing a really good neurocognitive assessment so that, even if they're able to hide things, that will oftentimes get to the nugget of are they really able to perform in a neurocognitive way than-- they may be hiding it, so you're able to get at it. Right--and there's some real accountability, it seems. >>Definitely.
Posted on BrainLine November 29, 2011.