Since April 2007, more than 500,000 Veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) entering the VA health care system have been screened for possible traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Those who screen positive are referred for appropriate treatment of symptoms at one of VA’s 22 polytrauma network sites.

Veterans who require a higher level of comprehensive medical and rehabilitative care are referred to one of the five VA polytrauma centers.

Because VA polytrauma centers leads the medical and scientific communities in the area of TBI and polytrauma rehabilitation, the Department of Defense also elects to send its active duty Servicemembers to VA polytrauma centers.

USMC LCpl Jake Kokowicz shares his TBI story at the Tampa, Florida VAMC

USMC Lance Cpl. Jake Kokowicz shares his TBI story at the Tampa, Florida VAMC

To assist in rehabilitation, VA experts created the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program (PTRP), a time-limited and goal-oriented residential rehabilitation program. Veterans and Servicemembers are fully immersed in rehabilitation to improve their physical, cognitive, communicative, behavioral, psychological and social functioning after significant injury or illness.

The Tampa, Fla., VA Medical Center’s program uniquely added a speech event to their regimen of rehabilitation. Veterans and Servicemembers prepare speeches, plan the logistics of the presentation and even select their favorite warm-up music.

The event helps the Veterans accept that while they are no longer the same person they once were, they are working towards their rehabilitation goals. Or as active duty Marine Lance Cpl. Jake Kokowicz said, “Just because you have a brain injury doesn’t mean your life is over.”

To learn more about VA’s polytrauma and traumatic brain injury systems of care, visit: http://www.polytrauma.va.gov/

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Published on Aug. 12, 2015

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One Comment

  1. DannyG August 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    With all the complaining that even I am guilty of, we veterans sometimes forget that Secretary McDonald is in charge of all 3 “functions” of the Dept. of VETERANS Affairs – Health, Benefits, & the National Cemetery. Within the VHA, Research & Development is, I have learned, a major reason for all the high-cost “executive-level” committees. With this said, I will reiterate my feelings that some of these committees seem to be too high priced, but will also swallow my pride, & apologize for being so outspoken & critical about something I ws so uneducated (ignorant) about. Secretary McDonald, you (again) have my apology, & I hope you know that you always have mmy support; even when we disagree on certain points! You are my Brother in Arms, & brothers often disagree.

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