Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are showing higher numbers of experiencing mild traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Within the past 13 years, nearly 400,000 Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn Veterans were seen for PTSD at VA facilities following their deployments.
To find new and innovative ways to help Veterans dealing with these injuries, the VA Center for Innovation teamed up industry experts from Silicon Valley to host the #VABrainTrust “hackathon” in Austin and San Francisco this past February. The event brought together experts, developers, clinicians, Veterans, caregivers and the public and gave them the opportunity to collaborate with each other.
VA posed three challenges to the hackathon teams: How do we improve access to mental health services for Veterans? How can we improve diagnostics for mild TBI and PTSD? How do we improve the rehabilitation experience?
The path begun at the February hackathon will culminate at the Brain Trust: Pathways to InnoVAtion summit in Washington, D.C., on April 20-21 where the winners will highlight their projects. The summit will bring together leaders in brain research and promote collaboration between private industries, national/professional sports organizations, the federal government, innovators, scientists, athletes, clinicians, caregivers and Veterans.
Teamwork and partnering exercises at the event will aim to identify critical brain health solutions in the areas of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and the reintegration of who those who live with the effects of mTBI and/or PTSD. #VABrainTrust is designed not only to serve Veterans and Servicemembers, but to ultimately serve Americans.