Brain injury has been referred to as the “signature injury” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 300,000 United States Armed Forces veterans have sustained a brain injury – sometimes the result of improvised explosive devices, pictured below – just since 2003’s Operation Iraqi Freedom. 1 in every 10 Australian Defence Force personnel who have served in the Middle East “reported the criteria for a new mild traumatic brain injury.”Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer, Brain Injury Australia

Speakers Announced For National Launch of 2017’s Awareness Week

Air-Vice Marshal Tracy Smart AM and Major Andy Cullen; during Explosive Ordnance Disposal in Afghanistan, and with his father, Mick

Brain Injury Australia and its partner, Ex-Service Organisation Mates4Mates, are honoured to introduce speakers to the national launch of 2017’s Brain Injury Awareness Week – devoted to brain injury in the military – to be held in Brisbane on Monday 21st August. The Week will be officially launched by Air-Vice Marshal Tracy Smart, AM, Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General Australian Defence Force.

Major Andrew Cullen is a veteran of 17 years’ service in the Australian Army. Retiring as a Major in 2012, Major Cullen sustained multiple traumatic brain injuries during his 6 years’ service as a soldier in the Royal Australian Infantry and later as an Officer in the Royal Australian Engineers, focusing much of his career in Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

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Brain Injury Awareness Week 2017: Brain Injury in the Military

2017’s National Brain Injury Awareness Week (August 21-28, 2017) is devoted to advancing the recognition of brain injury in the military and beyond.

Brain Injury Australia would be interested to hear from any serving or returned defence force personnel, or their families, about their experience of brain injury.

Please contact Nick Rushworth, Executive Officer via e-mail: or phone (0417) 373 622.

Mates4Mates to Host National Launch of Brain Injury Awareness Week, 2017

Mates4Mates, which provides “national and regional support services…to current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members (and their families) who are wounded, injured or ill”, will host the national launch of 2017’s Brain Injury Awareness Week in Brisbane on Monday 21st August.

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Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center

“The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is a part of the U.S. Military Health System, and is the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) operational component of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE).

DVBIC’s mission is to serve active-duty military, their beneficiaries, and veterans with traumatic brain injury through state-of-the-science clinical care, innovative clinical research initiatives and educational programs, and support for force health protection services”.

Download DVBIC’s Fact Sheet.
Visit DVBIC’s website.

Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center – Brain Injury Resources

Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

This resource explains concussion, mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), shows how symptoms of concussion and PTSD often overlap, and what families or friends need to know.

Acute Concussion Educational Brochure

“Information for Anyone Newly Diagnosed with a Concussion”.

Signs and Symptoms: Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

“Concussion – another word for a mild TBI – is the most common form of TBI in the military. Symptoms of concussion often resolve within days or weeks”.

Concussion: Know the Symptoms, “HEADS”

H – Headaches and/or Vomiting
E – Ears Ringing
A – Amnesia, Altered/Loss of Consciousness
D – Double Vision and/or Dizziness
S – Something Feels Wrong or Is Not Right

Ways to Improve Your Memory: Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

“Avoid distractions. When you are learning new information, focus on what is being said. Pay close attention when you are being given directions, instructions or having a conversation”.

Help With Ongoing Symptoms:
Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

“Concussions affect everyone differently. Many factors, such as other medical and psychological conditions, will influence your recovery. Remember to be patient and work closely with your provider”.

Healthy Sleep: Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

“Getting restful sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and it often takes preparation during the day. Improve your sleep regimen with these healthy sleep tips”.

MACE: Military Acute Concussion Evaluation

Download these DVBIC resources.

Personal Story: “Finding Our New Normal” by Lou Bennett

Ed with his wife Lou, and two children, Charlotte and Tim,
following Ed’s promotion to the rank of Major – 2009

“In September 2013, I received a phone call from my husband, Ed, who was on active duty with the Australian Army in Afghanistan. Ed was responsible for planning the relief in place of 20,000 Australian Defence Force personnel within Regional Command South as well as the drawdown of forces within the area. He was calling to say, don’t worry, that he was okay but he had collapsed that morning, knocking himself out and had had seven staples put in his head. At the time, he had had a CT scan [Computerized Tomography scan – a series of cross-sectional X-ray images used to examine bones and soft tissues for damage or abnormalities] of his brain, which showed no bleed, so he was diagnosed with a concussion rather than a traumatic brain injury. He did fail initial cognitive testing, but the focus was on getting him back to Australia at the end of his tour one week later”.

Read the full story.

Personal Story: Gary Wilson – Real-Life Hero!

Gary Wilson was one of the survivors of a Blackhawk crash in Afghanistan on 21st of June 2010 that claimed 4 lives and left 11 severely wounded. Gary’s injuries were catastrophic: crushed left foot, broken knee, broken pelvis, broken ribs, broken forearm, broken nose, broken jaw, broken tooth, and, as he likes to put it, a broken brain. Gary sustained a severe traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma for three months and in rehabilitation for three years, quite literally dragging himself from the brink of life and death just as he had when he crawled from the smoking Blackhawk wreckage.

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Brain Injury in the Military: Research

A selection of research studies and reports on brain injury and the military.

Learn more.

Learn more…

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