DVD Donations Provide Relief for Vets with TBI
Traumatic Brain Injury and Veterans

Author: Rebecca Metcalf

​​The website DVDs4Vets.org is an excellent resource for those who once defended our country. A recently returned National Guardsmen, who would like to remain anonymous for security reasons, took some time to review this site for Innovative Health Magazine. He responded frankly by stating, “The website seems like a just cause. Veterans are rotting in care facilities. Anything to keep their mind off their disheartening circumstances is a good thing. Often, their families have abandoned them. There are times where the people who care for them abuse, neglect and mistreat them for a paycheck.” Not only do DVDs help Vets escape reality, they also keep their minds active. This article highlights particular types of disabled Vets who are often most in need of mental stimulation for recovery; those with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

            Celebrities such as Nancy Sinatra and Kevin Costner support and endorse DVDs4Vets because it is commendable and user friendly. Those with smaller collections are provided with a facility locator, so that they may make deliveries in their communities. For collections over a thousand DVDs, donors are connected with volunteers who are willing to retrieve the donation. An example might be a large collection left by a deceased family member. Rentals and VHS tapes are not accepted. Arrangements are made for those who have memorabilia they’d like to showcase. Videos with extreme violence, horror, political or religious content, serial films and pornography are not accepted. Since it is a 501(c)(3), each donor will receive a letter confirming their donation has been forwarded to a Veterans facility.

            The website was founded in 2006, just before the United States pulled out of Iraq. By this point, many Veterans had returned home severely wounded.  “When it became known many returning Vets had suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and other serious wounds, Dr. Richard Landis of Westport, CT wanted to help any way he could. Having returned from a two week visit to Afghanistan with a group of surgeons, Dr. Landis helped organize a remote hospital and rehabilitation center for wounded civilians. When he returned home several months later, he convinced a few friends and neighbors to help start a service to provide basic entertainment for those Vets who required coordinated skills assistance.

          People suffering from Traumatic Brain Injuries may appear normal; however, common tasks are often daunting and exhausting. They may feel dizzy, have a low tolerance to noise and light, suffer from headaches or have insomnia. Family members and those treating injured Veterans may misunderstand their condition. Experts say it is best to treat TBI symptoms as soon as possible, and for caregivers to seek prompt support for themselves and the patient. It is important for loved ones to understand the need for longer processing time and the likelihood of impaired memory. It might be necessary to pause in conversation or allow for provide a calm environment for breaks if the patient becomes overwhelmed.

The brain injuries of Veterans are unique in that they result from combat. They are not always the result of a direct blow to the head. In other words, the brain is not always the only part of the body that’s injured. Examples of Veteran injuries include blasts and gunshot wounds verses civilian falls and motor vehicle accidents. Because of combat, Veterans often have a comorbidity of two simultaneous conditions: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury. This combination creates unique challenges in diagnosis and treatment. Without screening instruments for diagnosis, patients must rely on clinician interviews. Issues such as substance abuse and chronic pain may also encumber the recovery process.

Many Veterans suffering from TBIs have the potential for remarkable recovery. This is especially true if treatment is ongoing. Leaders and innovators in medicine should ask themselves how they might help Veterans with TBIs develop strategies to cope with their unique, and often complex conditions. It is important for Veterans to have opportunities to learn new things, be entertained, and find hope in simple things. We all can think of a story that has changed our lives or perspective on the world. It is encouraging to know there is an outlet for donors to give back to those that deserve our gratitude. Please share your newfound knowledge of DVDs4Vets provides with your friends and family.