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The Soul Repair Center offers free monthly webinars of use to religious leaders and professional caregivers supporting veterans and their families.

Traumatic Brain Injury Affecting Artillery Personnel as Morally Injurious 

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

1:00 - 2:30 CDT

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Army personnel exposed to fire from large artillery pieces or even grenades on a recurring basis, are vulnerable to developing brain injuries termed, “Traumatic Brain Injury” or TBI. As the attached article from the NYT Opinion page (March 18, 2024) indicates, the Defense Department and the Army have failed to respond to a direct request from Congress in 2020 which Congress repeated in February of this year. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) often has substantial mental and physical health consequences which include “primary blast injury” described in the article. To date the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs have not recognized TBI as an “occupational health hazard” for military personnel, nor has the Defense Department authorized what could be lifesaving “blast gauges.”  Such gauges, worn by artillery personnel, provide timely information about cumulative blast exposure to help protect personnel. The absence of adequate information or access for personnel to such gauges means unmonitored levels of exposure may lead to devastating physical, emotional, and mental health issues. Military and VA Chaplains are often uniformed about TBI because it is confined to a “medical” matter. In the absence of timely recognition, substantial costs for treatment may also be borne by the veteran. This webinar brings together Daniel Johnson, a US Army veteran affected by TBI who authored the Opinion article in the NYT noted above and Stephen N. Xenakis, MD. and (ret.) Brigadier General, US Army.

A recording of the webinar will be available on the Soul Repair Center website and the VOA’s YouTube channel.

Daniel Johnson is a Roy H. Park doctoral fellow and journalism professor at the Hussman School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally from North Carolina, Daniel served for 9 years in the U.S. Army. He was a journalist for the military in 2016 in Iraq during the war against ISIL. His current research and work focus on investigating the military’s suicide crisis. Most recently, he has reported and written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Slate Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.

Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D. is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1998 at the rank of brigadier general and entered an active career in start-up medical technologies and clinical practice. He has advised the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other senior Department of Defense officials on mental health, the effects of blast concussion, and suicide. During his career in the Army, he pioneered the introduction of telemedicine applications including the development of a device for electronic house call services. He has an active clinical and research interest in promising medical technologies. He founded of the Center for Translational Medicine to develop treatments and conducts tests on brain related conditions affecting soldiers and veterans. 

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