Helping our Veterans Cope with Epilepsy
A vast number of people do not truly understand epilepsy, and this has led to the continuation of the stigmas and fears toward those who have the condition. That includes veterans suffering from seizures as a result of traumatic brain injuries. The Epilepsy Centers of Excellence have been working along with the Veteran’s Administration toward removing the stigma associated with epilepsy. They have created a series of videos called “Veterans and Epilepsy: Basic Training.”
What Is the Purpose of these Videos?
Each of the videos in this series focuses on a veteran who talks about what their life is like now that they are having seizures. Veterans discuss the personal aspects of dealing with epilepsy, the social aspects of the disorder, the medical aspects and how their lives have changed. By creating these videos, they hope to spread awareness through the veteran community and to show others out there that it is still possible to live a full and happy life and to remain productive.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Veterans
A traumatic Brain Injury or TBI is considered to be the signature injury of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense reports that between 2000 and 2016, there have been 333,169 service members who have experienced a traumatic brain injury. They also say that the number continues to escalate. These types of injuries have caused a number of different issues for those who have suffered them. Some of the common symptoms include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and issues with memory. They have also found that those who have a TBI have an increased risk of seizures.
To combat the severity of this problem, the VA developed the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence or ECoE. There are currently 16 different locations within the VA system that have these centers and they are linked by four regional centers. The goal of the ECoE facilities is to deliver the best possible care and information to veterans who have epilepsy. They achieve this by providing care in the clinics, in their outreach programs and through education and research.
From Uncertainty to Understanding
Many veterans do not initially understand what is wrong with them or what is happening. When they finally get the diagnosis that they have epilepsy, it is bittersweet. They are relieved that they finally know what is wrong with them. However, there is also some uncertainty because of the stigma associated with epilepsy.
One of the issues to be contended with is the holdover of military training and its culture. Soldiers are taught to be tough, never quit, deal with situations and never show weakness. Many veterans are reluctant to reach out and try to get help. For them, the war never ends.
The first video, "Veterans and Epilepsy: Basic Training: Diagnosis," can be viewed online. The videos will cover a range of epilepsy awareness topics including medications, first aid, traumatic brain injury, and social issues that epileptics face.
With these videos, veterans can see and hear from other soldiers to understand that they are not alone, that there is a lot of information and resources out there that can help them. The videos also show them that they can still go on and lead full, successful lives.
If you know a veteran dealing with TBI or who experiences seizures, encourage them to watch these videos and to seek help.