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BIAA Responds to Trump’s Statement About Service Members with Traumatic Brain Injury

January 22, 2020

Vienna, Va. – President Donald J. Trump minimized the severity of traumatic brain injuries sustained by U.S. service members during Iranian missile strikes, describing them as “headaches and a couple of other things” and asserting that brain injuries were “not very serious” compared to other injuries sustained in war.

President Trump held a press conference Jan. 22 on his last day in Davos, Switzerland, at which a journalist pressed him about the 11 service members who were evacuated from Iraq to Kuwait and Germany with evidence of concussion and other traumatic brain injury (TBI). When asked if he thought TBIs were serious injuries, Trump responded, “No, I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen. I’ve seen what Iran has done with their roadside bombs to our troops. I’ve seen people with no legs and with no arms. I’ve seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war.”

TBI is defined as an alteration in brain function or other evidence of brain pathology caused by an external force. “A brain injury changes the way you move, act, think, and feel – it has the potential to change who you are at your core. What could be more serious than that?” remarks Susan H. Connors, president and chief executive officer of the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA). “As the nation’s oldest and largest brain injury advocacy organization, BIAA is disappointed in the President’s characterization of TBI as ‘just a headache’ and especially in his implication that those who sustain TBIs in service for their country are not suffering serious injuries.”

Brain injury is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. From 2006 to 2014, the number of TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths increased by 53%. “TBI is unpredictable in its consequences,” says Brent Masel, M.D, BIAA’s medical director. “It can include a range of comorbidities, from headaches and sleep disorders to impaired memory and depression. These symptoms often lead to long-term health problems that affect employment, relationships, and community reintegration.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 2.8 million Americans sustain brain injuries each year. For more information about brain injury and its impact, please visit



About the Brain Injury Association of America:

The Brain Injury Association of America is the country’s oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization. Our mission is to advance awareness, research, treatment, and education and to improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury. We are dedicated to increasing access to quality health care and raising awareness and understanding of brain injury.