Professional sports and the various branches of the military have found an unlikely -- and unwanted -- common ground: traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, that are plaguing the members of both organizations.
In an effort to curb the serious long-term damage affecting football players and military service members in Ohio and across the country, the National Football League and the military have engaged in a partnership aimed at addressing these concerns and finding ways to increase awareness of the potential risk of head injuries while also reducing their occurrence rate.
This is the first formal undertaking between the two organizations that has aimed to address the issue of head injuries. Medical personnel representing both the NFL and the military have met multiple times to share their information regarding head injuries to help plan out treatment and prevention processes.
The partnership began with a meeting between NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and General Raymond T. Odierno of the Army. Two meetings involving a variety of individuals representing the NFL and the military have since taken place at the Pentagon. A mix of retired and current NFL players -- including some notable stars -- has also been involved.
Early in the discussion process, it became apparent to both sides that in order to adequately address head injury issues that are plaguing the organizations, effective cultural change needs to occur at the individual level and among youths who grow up idolizing hard-hitting football players and military service members who endure pain and damage for the perceived greater good.
Instead, people need to understand the serious life-altering risks they are undertaking when they put themselves at risk of one or multiple concussions.
Source: Stars and Stripes, "Military, NFL team up to reduce shared stigma about concussions," Rick Maese, June 15, 2012