Parker Dial was a 21-year-old Marine on his way to Iraq in 2007 when his unit stopped in Kuwait for final training before going into combat. That training included a variety of shoulder-fired rockets, and Mr. Dial shot five in one day.
He said he didn’t feel the effects of the first few rockets. Then he shot a shoulder-launched, multipurpose assault weapon, or SMAW, two times in quick succession.
“The first shot sucked out my ear protection,” Mr. Dial recalled. “I followed up with a second shot and was completely concussed, and had some blood coming out of my ears.”
Mr. Dial, a paramedic who now lives in California, said his injury led to lasting migraines and other symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury. But because the Marines, like the rest of the military, don’t record when or how many rockets are fired in training, he said it has been difficult to get the VA to recognize the injury.
Inadequate record-keeping, gaps in policy and limited research have left military veterans like Mr. Dial, who file claims for brain injuries related to the use of weapons in training, struggling to get treatment from the military or benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, has become one of the signature injuries of the current generation of troops, with some 380,000 personnel affected since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.
Read the Full Article at The Wall Street Journal