Trauma Recovery

NAAV President and CEO serves on Lived Experience Advisory Board 2021-2022

The National Association of American Veterans, Inc. (NAAV) Constance A. Burns, president, chief executive officer, and veterans’ service officer was appointed in 2021 to serve on the Lived Experience Advisory Board for Proposed Research at the Institute of Trauma Recovery, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Research Institute for Trauma Recover is preparing proposals for three Department of Defense funded trials investigating recovery after exposure to traumatic events. These trials, described briefly below, would leverage the existing study network and over 20 terabytes of data from their recent $40 million AURORA Study, which sought to build a first-in-kind database of recovery information from nearly 4000 trauma survivors. The proposed trials will help inform future treatments to prevent adverse symptoms after a traumatic event. The Institute Trauma Recovery proposal is to fund a 4-year project leveraging existing AURORA data to determine diagnostic and predictive markers that identify individuals with and without Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Advisory Board Members volunteer to participate in a brief virtual meeting to review questions about study design, and an additional meeting at the conclusion of each study if awarded funding to complete design, and to help the research team ensure that the results of the study reach the individuals most in need. The Advisory Board will assist the University of NC Medical Research Team Members with grant funding regarding the signs and symptoms, causes and risk, different types, best medical care and treatment, general trauma, disabilities caused by TBI, and how proper treatment can prevent suicide caused by TBI to name a few.

Impact and Relevance to Military Health: “TBI symptoms are a major cause of reduced individual and unit warfighting ability in the U.S. military, and a major source of disability and cost. Acute and persistent posttraumatic stress and co-morbid APNS are also a major cause of reduced individual and unit warfighting ability, disability, and cost. As described above, a critical knowledge gap that currently hampers the evaluation, management, and treatment of soldiers with APNS is a lack of understanding regarding how traumatic brain injury (mechanical brain trauma), exposure to life-threatening stress, and their interaction effect APNS, including the specific APNS symptoms/dysfunction experienced, their underlying biology, and their onset and prognosis/duration. The analyses proposed will yield a wealth of new knowledge and risk prediction and clinical decision support/diagnostic tools that will advance the management, care, and warfighting ability of Service men and women.”

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBI, called brain injury or head injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. The damage can be focal, confined to one area of the brain or diffuse, involving more than one area of the brain. TBI can result from a closed head injury or a penetrating head
injury. A closed injury occurs when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, but the
object does not break through the skull. A penetrating injury occurs when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of TBI?

Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage of the brain. Half of all TBIs are due to transportation accidents involving automobiles, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. These accidents are the major cause of TBI in individuals under age 75. For those 75 and older, falls cause the majority of TBIs. An estimated 20 percent of TBIs are due to violence, such as firearm assaults and child abuse, and about 3 percent are due to sports injuries. About half of TBI incidents are caused by alcohol use.

Today, we understand more about a healthy brain and the effects of trauma although science still has much to learn about how to reverse damage resulting from head injuries. TBI costs America more that $48 billion a year, and between 2.5 and 6.5 million Americans alive today have had a TBI. Survivors of TBI are often left with significant cognitive, behavioral, and communicative disabilities, and some patients develop long-term medical complications, such as epilepsy.

Other statistics that report head injury in the United States. Each year say an estimated 270,00 people experience a moderate or severe TBI; estimated 70,000 individuals die from head injury; estimated 1 million individuals with head injured are treated in hospital emergency rooms; estimated 60,000 new cases of epilepsy occur caused by head trauma; estimated 230,000 people are hospitalized for TBI and survive, and an estimated 80,000 of these survivors live with significant disabilities as a result of the injury.

As America leaves Afghanistan and Iraq, these countries will never leave many Veterans who fought there.
. More than two in five have disabilities.
. One in five struggles with PTSD or Major depression. Many are homeless.
. In recent years, the number of Veterans who commit suicide has greatly exceeded the number killed in action (893 vs 37 in 2016). Their suicide rate is much higher.

As the founder of the National Association of American Veterans, Inc. (NAAV) I was saddened and appalled by the struggles of so many recent Veterans. During my visit to Walter Reed in 2004, I realized that Veterans and their family members need help, someone to talk to, someone who can help when rent and utility bill is overdue, someone who can navigate the bureaucracy to help them get benefits they deserve such mobility vans, caregiver support, and
assistance with VA claims and benefits. This is what the NAAV covers with its volunteers and
supporters nationwide. Our volunteers handle more than 14,000 calls and over 20 million yearly who visit our website for resources and referrals.

NAAV is committed to assisting Service Members, Veterans, and their families experiencing financial hardship. An emergency assistance referral may be provided to help families during their time of need such counseling referrals, respite care assistance, real estate, personal
financial assistance through one of our partners, medical transportation, as well as housing assistance and medical care information.

Since 2005, NAAV has been an advocate for caregivers of Veterans most in need nationwide. NAAV’s recommendations for the caregivers was accepted by the President’s Commission report to President Bush in 2007, and in 2010 Title I of Public Law 111-163, Caregivers of Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act approved and signed by Presid3ent Barack Obama. In 2007, NAAV president and chief executive officer introduced an outline and text for a Guide to Healthy Caregiving, which was published in Quick Series Publishing in 2008 and later adopted by the VA Caregiver Support Program in 2011.

How You Can Help

NAAV operates on donated funds. The funds received are used to benefit Veteran caregivers and their Veteran loved ones who live in DC, Maryland and Virginia as well as those in critical need nationwide. You can donate online via our website at click on DONATE TODAY or mail a check to NAAV, Inc. ATTN: CEO, P.O. Box 6865, Washington, DC 20020-0565. All donations are tax-deductible. If you are a federal employee, you can make your donation at www.GIVECFC.ORG no later than January 15, 2022. Our CFC designated number is 85065. Thank you.


NAAV depends heavily on its volunteers to help us serve those most in need in DC, Maryland, Virginia and nationwide. Volunteer opportunities exist for professional services such as community outreach specialists, donation advisors, grant writers, social media consultants, event planners, dedicated virtual assistants, and veterans’ service representatives to name a few.

Spread the Word

In conclusion, please spread the word if you know of someone in need. Please refer them to us. For more information about NAAV and how we can help is available at

NAAV, Inc.

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