A traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a recent tour of war duty may have been the trigger that sent a US soldier on a bloody rampage, killing Afghan civilians including women and children.
An official told ABC News that the soldier had suffered a mild TBI at some point previously either from hitting his head on the hatch of a vehicle or in a car accident. He went through advanced TBI treatment at Fort Lewis. He also was put through mental health screening as part of sniper training and had routine behavioral health screenings. Throughout all the testing, the soldier was deemed fit to serve.
If there was any indication of lingering problems, it was that he seemed to have difficulty readjusting to life back at home once returning from his last deployment in Iraq. He was also having trouble with his marriage, but seemed to have worked through those difficulties before being deployed to Afghanistan last December.
No one knows what provoked the soldier to venture out into the villages of southern Kandahar at 3 a.m. and gun down the Afghan civilians in their homes. Once the shooting spree was over, the soldier reportedly walked back to base and turned himself in.
TBI is a complex injury that can have a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. Symptoms can cause various physical, cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral effects, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability or death. Even mild TBI can cause social and behavioral symptoms including inability to control anger, impulsiveness, lack of initiative, inappropriate sexual activity, poor social judgment, and changes in personality.