212,000 U.S. Veterans Have Traumatic Brain Injuries

Thursday, June 23, 2011
After nearly a decade of fighting a two-front war, the United States is faced with caring for more than 212,000 veterans suffering from some form of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The vast majority of these cases originated in the U.S. Army, where 121,658 cases of TBI have been recorded. The remainder is almost evenly spread among the Marine Corps (30,732), the Navy (30,411) and the Air Force (29,941).
Of the total, 3,573 are classified as “penetrating,” meaning an open head wound. Another 2,235 were deemed “severe,” which is defined by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center as characterized by “A confused or disoriented state which lasts more than 24 hours; loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours; memory loss for more than seven days; and structural brain imaging yielding normal or abnormal results.”
Although another 35,661 cases are classified as “moderate,” the term is a bit misleading. A moderate traumatic brain injury can lead to a confused or disoriented state for more than a day, loss of consciousness for up to 24 hours, memory loss for between one and seven days and abnormal results of brain imaging.
While it is assumed most of the brain injuries occurred from exposure to combat, the military can’t say for sure if this has been the case—because its medical system does not record the cause of head injuries or the location they occurred.
Caring for so many veterans with TBI will be a challenge for the nation, says Bobby Muller, president of Veterans for America. “We are facing a massive mental health problem as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “As a country we have not responded adequately to the problem. Unless we act urgently and wisely, we will be dealing with an epidemic of service-related psychological wounds for years to come.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
TBI Numbers By Severity – All Armed Forces (Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center) (pdf)
DoD Worldwide Numbers for TBI - FAQs (Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center)


Frances Marley 10 years ago
I am doing a report for my Prodev class, I knew a little on this particular subject had know idea of how extreme this problem was. May I say to our Vets I am so sorry, I always try to donate every month but I would like to find out how I can help even more and get the word out. Email me to let me know.
Nick 12 years ago
involved in evaluating deployment of soldiers since 2003 and recently mtbi, since 2007 i found that soldiers weren't interested in csi, anam or tbi. they just wanted to do their job and be treated when injury exist. however, they were reluctant to be labled by non combat seasoned medical providers who relied on a study to validated a treatment protocol. the command was more interested in mission accomplishment than preventive medicine. when they did seek eval or identified requiring assistance not all participants were helpful. usually being told they had a psychological issue and released which was not recognized by the va. i found not until 2009 did dod, va and cdc start taking tbi treatment serious enough to make treatment protocol. now what will be done when afghanistan whines down what will america do with the potential dementia, alzheimer and future veterans with these ailments to include parkonsins or worse als. i would hope they don't wait for periodical validation as the va and congress did for agent orange and gulf war syndrome. i have trust in military medicine, look at what it did for malaria.

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