Last week, we wrote about the class-action lawsuit that former professional football players are pursuing against the National Football League over the connection between head injuries and long-term brain damage. The NFL has now teamed with the military to discuss head injuries and their impacts.
The NFL and representatives from the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps are working together to try to teach both athletes and service members more about brain injuries. Medical officials have vowed to share their research on head injuries, and the two are working together to devise an awareness campaign that could reduce the work-related injuries.
And while the new effort is a good start, it should not be used to whitewash the NFL’s and the military’s records on how brain injuries are treated. Retired players, and especially soldiers, need the best care to help them recover. In many cases, that care has not been provided.
The campaign will also will target young people.
This partnership already has reached the highest levels, with the NFL commissioner and the Army’s chief of staff meeting to discuss the topic. Subsequently, players and medical staff from the NFL have met with leaders of the military.
According to studies, 60 percent of retired NFL players sustained at least one concussion during their careers, with a third of them suffering three or more. The military reports that of the more than 2 million Americans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, almost 230,000 of them sustained what was labeled as a traumatic brain injury.
The message the two groups want to share with their employees is to not take brain injuries lightly just because you can’t see them. Both sides said they want to drive home the point that head injuries are severe and they must be treated as such.
One staff sergeant at the meeting said that when he first joined the military a dozen years ago, the topic of head injuries never came up. Frequently, the mantra of soldiers was if they could walk, they would fight, he said.