Gen. (Ret.) Pete Chiarelli is Keynote Speaker for Aurora Gala

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You may have seen the hashtags: #NotAloneInBrainInjury, and #BrainInjuryAwarenessMonth. Throughout the month of March, physical injuries to the brain caused by concussions, as well as other brain health matters have been highlighted by multiple organizations, including the Brain Injury Association of America - multiple articles have been written about the need for better treatment for brain injuries in all types of organizations, from the NFL to the US Military.  Traumatic Brain Injuries need attention, especially as former NFL players reached a $765M settlement over concussion-related lawsuits in 2013.  

In 2008, then Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Pete Chiarelli was given a graph representing the numbers of seriously injured soldiers.  The highest amount of injuries was at 36%, and Chiarelli soon discovered this number represented TBIs or Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), the unseen wounds of war.  TBIs typically occur in a combat zone when blasts cause concussions, and concussions are not always be given the ample amount of time to heal.  Often, soldiers with concussions returned to the battle arena within 24 hours to fight alongside their comrades.  Gen. Chiarelli, now retired from his post as Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, continues to serve the men and women suffering from TBIs and PTS as the CEO of One Mind for Research, an independent, 501(c)3 dedicated to benefiting all affected by brain injury and illness.

As research continues to show, brain injuries can have a profound affect on victims' quality of life 10, 20, even 30 years down the road if not effectively treated.  The Aurora Foundation recognizes the gap in successful treatment of TBIs and PTS, especially among veterans of the most recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  Without the correct treatment now, a large population of seriously injured service members may face increasingly debilitating circumstances in the years ahead. Lack of treatment knowledge and research for these brave men and women is not only an obstacle to them, but robs the US workforce of incredibly capable, talented, and productive civilian workers in the future.  It is vitally important to Aurora's mission (to help student veterans successfully graduate from school and enter the workforce) that brain injuries are addressed and treated with the utmost care, resulting in the most fulfilling and  successful recovery into their next phase of life as a civilian.

For this reason, Aurora is pleased to announce that Gen. (Ret.) Pete Chiarelli, CEO of One Mind for Research, will be the keynote speaker on June 10 at our "Toast to the Troops" fundraiser gala (tickets available for purchase here).  He will speak on the epidemic of brain injuries throughout combat troops, and what is currently being done to help these men and women recover and lead regular lives.  He will have a time towards the end of his message to answer questions from the audience, and will be available after the event for pictures and time with guests.

Aurora is grateful for his work to address brain injuries in our troops, and looks forward to welcoming him in June.  Please take a moment to read more about brain injuries from One Mind's statistics below, or read more on Aurora's Facebook page from different articles discussing TBIs and PTS over this past month.  It is only through understanding that for our troops, this is only one of many obstacles they may face while returning to school and successfully transitioning into civilian life, that we can begin to find a solution to the problem.

Brain Injury Statistics:

  • About 2.5 million people each year sustain a TBI in the U.S.

  • In 2010, TBI contributed to:

    • More than 50,000 deaths.

    • 280,000 hospitalizations.

    • 2.5 million emergency departments visits.

  • The rate of emergency department visits for sports and recreation-related injuries with a diagnosis of concussion or TBI, alone or in combination with other injuries, rose 57% among children (age 19 or younger).

  • Every day, 138 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI.

  • An estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives.

  • 5.3 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress occurs in 11 - 20% of Veterans of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars.