Brain-Injured Columbia Veteran Talks About the Effects of the War

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COLUMBIA - A Columbia veteran of Afghanistan says severe stress and a "traumatic" brain injury changed his life forever and left him feeling "weak willed."

"It was embarrassing to me at first." Delano Lenyard said.

The Army Combat Military Policeman was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder a year after he came back from his tour in Afghanistan.

He also suffered from what's known as Traumatic Brain Injury, when an artillery shell exploded nearby, knocking him off a ladder.

TBI is caused by excessive head injuries like concussions, and PTSD occurs when a person sees or endures a agonizing experience.

Lenyard said people's biggest misconception is that only older soldiers can contract PTSD and TBI. "I had buddies that were with me who were 18 and 19 that had PTSD. Ive met women and people in car wrecks who have PTSD. There is nothing in there that says combat." Lenyard said.

The disorder also has no age limits. "I am only 23 years old and I have PTSD," he said, "I have buddies younger than me who had it."

Veterans Service Supervisor Eugene O'Loughlin said he sees Veterans in mid-Missouri struggle with PTSD and TBI every day. "It's not necessarily the stories of what occurred, it's the effects of what happened."

He said he thinks a long-term study would be more effective.

The Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs has granted a $107 million dollar grant for research on PTSD and TBI over a five-year period.

Boone County started a Veterans Treatment Court in August, which revolves around counseling sessions instead of the traditional court process.

"They deal with a psychiatrist, a parole officer, a counselor a judge" O'Loughlin said.

Lenyard said, "PTSD is not a disability on its own, it's a conglomerate of many other disabilities. Depression, anxiety disorders, sleeps disturbances."

He said was he forgoes weekly psychological treatment.

He does get support from friends and family, but said, "It's a long hard internal fight. It is something you have to do on your own.

The Missouri's Veterans Commission website offers a full list of state resource available to veterans.