Service members risk brain damage when operating shoulder-fired heavy weapons like the AT4, LAW, and Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security.

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U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Benjamin Tuck.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article by Elana Duffy originally appeared on the NYC Veterans Alliance blog.

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U.S. Army photo by Calvin Reimold

The Army is designing a new lethal hand grenade that can switched from fragmentation to a concussion grenade. Called the “enhanced tactical multipurpose hand grenade,” it will fill a capability gap from 1975, when the MK3A2 concussion grenade was taken out of service due to an asbestos hazard, according to an Army news release.

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AP photo by Josh Anderson

While medical research into traumatic brain injuries is not new, our ability to identify and subsequently treat them, has leapt forward in the last decade and a half, owed in large part to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal

In the last 15 years, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dramatically changed the way we recognize and treat wounds like traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.

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Photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Hubenthal

Traumatic brain injury is pervasive in both civilian and military populations. In fact, TBI in the civilian population is eight times as frequent as breast cancer, AIDS, spinal-cord injury, and multiple sclerosis combined. According to the Center for Deployment Psychology, an estimated 10–20% of all service members who served in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom sustained a TBI, with most being concussions, or mild TBIs — mild TBIs are also sometimes called concussions. As such, TBI is a “hot topic” in the military community. However, TBI and its causes, symptoms, and treatment are often misunderstood, and this misunderstanding can lead to a mistreatment of the individuals with TBI and a mishandling of the issues surrounding TBI. Several myths about TBI appear to contribute to this misunderstanding. Below, several such myths are addressed.

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