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The Cost of War: Traumatic Brain Injuries number 180,000, could be as many as 320,000

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John Barnes incurred a traumatic brain injury in Iraq when shrapnel entered his brain from an enemy attack on March 14, 2006. (Whitney Shefte/TWP)

On Sunday the Post released a series on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans living with traumatic brain injuries -- TBIs, for short -- a hidden cost of the wars.

Members of the military, family members and others have responded to the series with gratitude that this injury is being brought to light, with anger that the problem has not been reported more widely and with sorrow that the men and women have been injured in the war.

Others are tweeting their stories about the cost of war. Add your own comments, or tweet us how the war has affected you by using the hashtag #costofwar.

Read below the jump to learn more about the soldiers highlighted by Christian Davenport and the Post's multimedia team. We're also gathering all the #costofwar replies in a widget at the bottom of this blog post.

Robert Warren, three weeks after leaving Afghanistan, could not remember the name of the country he was just in. Shrapnel tore into his skull and a chunk of it had to be removed. "That country," he called Afghanistan, unable to grasp the right word.

Chris Lynch fell 26 feet in a training exercise in 2000, his brain swelling after the fall. Doctors have just now diagnosed him with bipolar disease.

A piece of shrapnel pierced John Barnes's brain, tearing through his frontal lobe, the region in charge of decision making, reason and morality. As a result, Barnes exhibits impulsive behavior and is unable to live on his own.

The men are living with traumatic brain injuries -- TBIs, for short -- a hidden cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Post's Christian Davenport decided to write the story after attending an Orioles game with men from 7 East, the trauma unit at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda that deals with TBIs. He wrote, "The Marines were tough and tattooed, and, at first, didn't seem all that different from other infantryman I had met. But the more I talked to them, and got caught in conversations that meandered from one subject to another, sometimes mid-sentence, the more I realized their brains weren't functioning quite right."

Just one of only a few units dedicated exclusively to TBI, 7 East can only handle six patients at a time. Six patients. Since 2000, 180,000 traumatic brain injuries have been diagnosed, and some patient advocates say hundreds, if not thousands, more have suffered undiagnosed brain injuries. A Rand study in 2008 estimated the total number of service members with TBI to be about 320,000.

Add your own comments, or tweet us how the war has affected you by using the hashtag #costofwar.


By Melissa Bell  | October 4, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Comments

Traumatic Brain Damage is such a cruel injury. My father suffered its affects after a car accident. In many ways, it is far worse than losing a limb.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | October 4, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I partly agree with you RD. My brother suffered from a TBI when he got hit by a motorcycle while on duty as a police officer. It's very sad. With a TBI there is a chance of coming to. It can take a very long time but the brain can heal itself with lots of therapy but with a lost limb there is no getting that back. Sorry to hear about your dad. God bless him.

Posted by: enuff718 | October 4, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

A special thank you here to Fred Hiatt and his neocon editorial staff here at the Post who made many of these TBI's possible by cheerleading us into Iraq. Everyone say, "thanks Fred! Thanks for the million dead Iraqis, too! Thank you Fred! You're the man!".

Posted by: B2O2 | October 4, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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