While mild brain injury was more common during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the number of traumatic brain injuries was significant and largely caused by blasts from improvised explosive devices. (Credit: DVIDSHUB/Flickr)

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Almost half of US veterans with brain injury are jobless

About 45 percent of US veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who suffered traumatic brain injury are unemployed, a new report shows.

Compare that to the number of veterans who suffered mild brain injury or no brain injury: about 33 percent are unemployed.

While mild brain injury was more common during both wars, the number of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) was significant and largely caused by blasts from improvised explosive devices.

Veterans who are unemployed and not looking for work are more likely to have experienced moderate to severe TBI; have lower education levels; suffer from suspected psychiatric conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression; be aged 40 or older; and be divorced, separated, or widowed.

Also, veterans who are active duty are more likely to be unemployed than those who served in the National Guard/Reserves.

Terri K. Pogoda, a research assistant professor in health policy and management at Boston University School of Public Health, led the research. The findings, published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, suggest more research is needed to investigate why unemployment rates are high and what interventions would help veterans.

More than 80 percent of the sample group had at least one suspected psychiatric condition, and 42 percent had two or more. Multiple conditions were most evident among those who were unemployed and not looking for work.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, the Defense Resources Management Institute, and the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder contributed to the study.

Source: Boston University

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