VETERANS CORNER: What is Traumatic Brain Injury and what does it do?

This Month’s column I would like to discuss the topic of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): What it is, how it can happen, who it happens to, and other related topics. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced a change that I would like to cover as well.

  TBI may result from a blow or jolt to the head or when an object penetrates the brain, and can cause a change in consciousness, feeling disoriented or confused, and in some situations, coma. A person may also suffer some memory loss surrounding the time immediately before or after the TBI-causing event. Not all injuries to the head result in a TBI.

TBI can result from an object striking the head (such as a bat while playing ball, the dashboard or steering wheel during a car accident); veterans commonly get TBI when shrapnel from nearby IED blasts or explosions hit them.

With regard to the frequency of TBI, males generally outnumber females by a 2:1 margin. TBI can occur rather frequently to military members in blast injuries suffered during active combat.

The severity of a TBI ranges from mild (e.g., a brief disorientation or loss of consciousness; a.k.a. a concussion) to severe (e.g., an extended loss of consciousness or penetrating brain injury); it’s determined at the time of injury and is based on:

• Length of the loss of consciousness

• Length of memory loss or disorientation

• The individual’s responsiveness following the injury (i.e., whether they can follow commands)

TBI cause many difficulties, including changes in behavior as well as physical and mental abilities. TBI side effects include headaches, dizziness, problems walking, fatigue, irritability, memory problems, and trouble paying attention and concentrating; these changes often relate to the severity of the injury.

The VA can treat veterans for issues relating to TBIs suffered while in the military. I can also assist you in completing the required claim forms to apply for benefits. If you suffered documented injuries while in service, please give me a call.

As a result of a recent VA-conducted review, if a veteran’s examination for TBI was not conducted by one of the four VA designated medical specialists (psychiatrist, physiatrist, neurosurgeon or neurologist) authorized to perform examinations; the VA will afford the veteran a new examination. You do not need to notify the VA if you believe you fall into this category; the VA will contact the identified veterans.

Remember, the Colusa County Veteran Services office is here to serve veterans and their dependents. I can complete the DMV Veteran Status Verification Form for the new California Veteran Designation on your driver’s license. There are many state and federal benefits available to veterans and their dependents that they have earned. To find out if you are eligible for any of these benefits, visit or call our office.  I can and will assist you in completing all required forms and application.  You can get information on the Web from the Colusa County Veterans Service Office webpage at http://www.countyofcolusa.org/index.aspx?nid=180

— Don Parsons the Asst. Veterans Service Officer for Colusa County is a retired Army Sergeant First Class. Contact him at the Veterans Service Office, 251 E. Webster St. Colusa, CA 95932; by phone at (530)458-0388 or by email at don.parsons@colusadhhs.org    

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Don Parsons is the Assistant Veterans Service Officer for Colusa County. You can reach him at (530)458-0388 or don.parsons@colusadhhs.org. The Colusa County Veteran Services Office is located at 251 E. Webster St. in Colusa and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12:30pm and 1:30 pm to 4:30 p.m.■