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New help on the way for veterans with traumatic brain injuries

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Updated: 12/16/2013 7:42 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Down the halls at 5 Star Veterans Center, the nation's heroes are trying to get back on their feet. And now more help may be headed their way.

As a veteran, Col. Len Loving knows first-hand how difficult the transition is from war to the real world.

"The real last time I came out of Vietnam was in '68. And it had been a very difficult year," he said.

He witnessed good friends get killed in war and many others struggle post-service. Loving is thankful he doesn't suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But he says he's in the minority.

"When we came back from Vietnam it was a fairly hostile environment and there was not a lot of consideration for what baggage you might be bringing back," he said.

Today, Loving has made if his mission to help veterans with their transition. He says 90 percent of the military members he helps at 5 Star Veterans Center struggle with PTSD or traumatic brain injury.

"It begins to deteriorate the relationship either with mom and dad or with their wife with the family with other family members and they begin to go on a downward spiral," Loving said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved new rules making it easier for vets to get health care for certain illnesses linked to traumatic brain injuries. It opens the door for thousands to file claims and get them handled quicker.

Loving said it sounds like great news but worries how all the new claims will get processed in a timely manner along with all of the current claims.

"I'd like to hope that it does help the veterans who need that help. I just can't imagine right now that additional workload on the existing facilities and the existing staff at the VA that they're going to be able to handle it," he said.

The new regulations will go into effect Jan. 16.  The
new rules will be published here on Tuesday.

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