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Legion Starts Month-long TBI/PTSD Survey

American Legion

The American Legion is conducting a month-long online survey of veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder in order to gather data about the care and treatment that vets are getting.

The survey, which will also ask about veterans' experiences with complementary or alternative treatments, is a follow-up to the organization's September 2012 report on TBI and PTSD, "The War Within."

"The American Legion is very concerned by the unprecedented number of veterans who suffer from these two conditions," said William Detweiler, past national commander of the Legion and chairman of its permanent committee on TBI and PTSD. "We advocate the adoption of all effective treatments and cures, including alternatives being used in the private sector."

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 777,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been screened for mild TBI since April of 2007 when the Pentagon made the practice routine.

Of that number, 146,415 veterans screened positive and were referred for comprehensive follow-up evaluation. Just over 110,000 have completed the follow-up, to date, the VA said in December.

The agency said 63,349 had been diagnosed with having sustained a mild TBI.

The VA's National Center for PTSD notes that experts believe 11 to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghan war vets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Among Gulf War vets, the figure is believed to be 10 percent. For Vietnam veterans, the estimate is 30 percent, the VA said.

The American Legion's survey, which ends on February 28, will ask for the participant's sex, era of service, number of times deployed, TBI and/or PTSD diagnoses, scheduling, types of treatment, reported symptoms and side effects.

Detweiler said the survey is confidential. 

"Although we're also requesting demographic data such as age, branch of service, and where veterans have received treatment, this information won't be used to identify individuals who complete the survey," he said.

The findings of the survey will be shared with federal agencies, the health-care industry and the media. 

He also said the veterans' responses "will inform The American Legion's position on the care and treatment for these injuries so that it can advocate effectively for its members."

The survey was developed by the Legion's Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Committee working with Data Recognition Corporation in Washington, DC.

Jeff Greenberg, senior director of research for DRC, said the survey focuses on health outcomes and treatments. The results will be securely stored by DRC but eventually destroyed in accordance with industry standards.

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