VA May Have Hard Time Rating TBI in Recent War Veterans - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

VA May Have Hard Time Rating TBI in Recent War Veterans

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WACO -

There's a new condition the Department of Veteran Affairs Office is keeping their eyes out for, and it's starting to raise some questions.

Traumatic brain injury, or also known as TBI is what the VA is seeing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans coming home with. VA hospitals, not only in Waco, but across the country are having a hard time properly rating it. 

TBI is trauma to the brain and it can cause a number of different symptoms. McLennan County Veteran Service Officer Steve Hernandez helps veterans with their TBI claims, and is seeing something new.

"The problem with TBI, is that there's nothing that can be identified as traumatic brain injury," Hernandez said. "There's no rating there that just says TBI."

Most of the disabilities are assigned a rating by the VA, up to 100 percent, to determine benefit payments and treatment. TBI is caused by an explosion and it isn't one of them. Also, in a recent audit released this week, errors were found in the processing of nine of 30 traumatic brain injury claims in the Waco VA Regional Office. 

"TBI's are causing a lot of symptoms and conditions that may not be able to be immediately diagnosed, but for the Department of the Veterans Affairs where I feel is missing where to rate TBI accurately," Hernandez said.

Especially for Iraq Veteran Sammy Pearson, who has a very unique case, and has to wear sunglasses otherwise he'll go blind.

"They(VA) threw my eye situation which is considered a photophobia under TBI because TBI could lead to that," Pearson said.

Pearson was rated at the VA in Oklahoma City, but now is working with the VA in Waco.

"They are trying to work with it, but with such backlog and trying to work with it and show that they are helping, they've kind of put everyone in these categories without any chance of anybody being able to go where this doesn't quit," Pearson said. 

To Pearson, it doesn't matter about the VA claims. He only wants the VA to do one thing. 

"The only thing I want is for you(VA) to know the ability for somebody to say, you know we don't know what's going on," Pearson said. "But we are going to figure it out. If it's something new, we are going to get to that."

News Channel 25 reached out to the VA Regional Office in Waco to get a statement on TBI, but after trying for a couple of weeks, no one ever returned the call.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is scheduled to take a tour at the office in Waco on August 27, and hope to get some answers then. 

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