Nashville, Tenn. (Jan. 18, 2023) – The National Headache Foundation (NHF) announced today it is hosting the first of several listening tour sessions affiliated with Operation Brainstorm at the American Legion Post 88 in Nashville, Tenn., from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. on February 7. Operation Brainstorm is an NHF dedicated program created to offer enhanced services to veterans and active duty personnel with headache disorders and migraine disease.
Leaders of American Legion Post 88 in Nashville encourage Veterans and military personnel to bring their families, caregivers and medical providers. There is no cost to attend and free migraine survival kits will also be provided, courtesy of NHF. Country singer/songwriter Allie Sealey, who experiences migraine disease, will perform a few of her songs.
American Legion Post 88 is at 2717 McCampbell Avenue in Nashville. The link to register is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/operation-brainstorm-listening-tour-nashville-tickets-513273343387
Jan Lewis Brandes, M.D., MS, AQH, will answer questions during the listening session, providing an opportunity for veterans to discuss challenges with headache and migraine and to seek answers and resources.
Brandes, an NHF board member, holds an appointment as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and is also the Founding Director of the Nashville Neuroscience Group, a private headache clinic.
Tom Dabertin, CEO/Executive Director of NHF, said Operation Brainstorm was launched in July 2022, and program leaders soon learned that much more can be done to broaden services. “We need far more resources to increase access and quality of care for the service members and Veterans who bravely protect our country,” said Dabertin.
NHF has been offering enhanced health resources for veterans and active-duty military, with funding and support from Pfizer Inc., through its acquisition of Biohaven Pharmaceuticals in October 2022. Initiatives include:
- Production and distribution of migraine survival toolkits.
- Sponsoring Veterans Views, a syndicated radio show hosted by veterans and focusing on issues affecting veterans.
- Primary care provider training via the NHF’s Primary Care Migraine (PCM) educational program. PCM is available to healthcare providers throughout the VA medical system.
- A series of listening sessions, hosted at American Legion halls and other venues, that brings veterans together to learn about chronic headache and migraine.
Dabertin said U.S. service members and veterans disproportionately share acute barriers to care that millions of Americans face trying to treat headache and migraine disorders. “Studies show that veterans are more likely to develop migraine or other headache disorders,” said Dabertin. “Headache and migraine disorders are a pervasive issue among veterans in the United States, but less attention and fewer resources are devoted to treatment than to more visible physical traumas.” According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 36 percent of veterans who served at least a one-year tour in Iraq or Afghanistan have a diagnosis of migraine or a headache disorder.
From 2000 to 2020, more than 430,000 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. These brain injuries can lead to post-traumatic headache disorder. Headache and migraine can show up weeks or months after an injury, and the debilitating symptoms can last for years. A study from the Veterans Affairs Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health discovered a significant link between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and combat-related injury among veterans who experienced migraine and tension-type headache. More than 300 veterans visited the Center for services during the study in 2009; nearly half reported experiencing migraine or headache.
Dabertin said, “The more we learn about the compelling migraine and headache disorder treatment needs of veterans and active-duty military, the more we want to accomplish in their behalf. NHF goals include adding other resources and direct programs, such as companion dogs, to support veteran and military patients, their caregivers, and healthcare providers.”
NHF is coordinating its efforts with Jason Sico, M.D., National Director of Headache Centers of Excellence (HCoE) Program – U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a member of the NHF Board of Directors. The HCoE is a national initiative to improve headache care delivery through educational programs, innovative care delivery models, including telehealth, and standardized care algorithms that incorporate patient self-management and interdisciplinary headache care.
Additional NHF listening sessions in 2023 are planned for Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich., and Washington, D.C.
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