Recent events in Boston have made the community painfully aware of just how fragile America's safety can be. Thanks to the hard work of the nation's military and National Guard personnel, as a population Americans can rest knowing that capable men and women are working tirelessly to improve the security of the country. While their hard work sometimes goes unnoticed, service members are an integral component of America's infrastructure.
Due to their importance to the nation's security, people might expect that soldiers and guardsmen consistently receive the support that they need when they suffer injuries while serving their country. A 24 year old guardsman recently learned the limits of the government's support when he suffered brain trauma in Afghanistan as a member his National Guard unit. The guardsman was crushed while performing repairs on an armored vehicle with most of the force pressing on to his head.
The guardsman suffered three seizures in the immediate aftermath of his incident and was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury. After being discharged from a military hospital, he again suffered another seizure while performing service drills and was sent to a specialist. In order to have his medical expenses covered by the military, the guardsman needed a line of duty statement from the National Guard that stated his head injury resulted from his service. When he received his statement, the National Guard reported that the incident had not caused his condition but rather exacerbated a pre-existing condition the guardsman suffered from a concussion received more than five years ago.
While the National Guard has since agreed to pay for the guardsman's extensive medical bills, he is forced to cover the costs of traveling to the out of state specialist. He has expressed extreme frustration and disappointment with the experience and feels as though the military has used his previous concussion as a way to get out of supporting his service-related head injury.
As illustrated by this guardsman's story, pre-existing conditions can create challenges for individuals who have suffered brain injuries due to other people's actions. Sorting through the complicated medical facts of a head injury can be difficult and may influence if a brain injury victim can recover damages of incurred losses.
Source: KRNV News 4, "Guardsman's Traumatic Brain Injury Ruled a Pre-Existing Condition," Elias Johnson, May 28, 2013