Donald Trump claimed that the US “suffered no casualties” from the Iran missile attack, which was a reprisal for the US drone strike assassination of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani.
But a spokesman confirmed 50 injuries had occurred.
Questioned later about reports of brain injury, Trump downplayed their severity: “I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things. But I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious.”
Michael Kaplen, the chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council said that he was “shocked at the ignorant statement” made by Trump.
“To equate traumatic brain injuries as just a headache is insulting and disrespectful to the thousands of military service members suffering from the signature wound of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict,” he said.
He added that the condition, also known as TBI, is a “life-altering” injury.
“It’s physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral consequences affect every aspect of an individual’s life,” he said. “A brain injury is only ‘mild’ if it is someone else’s brain. There is nothing ‘mild’ about a mild brain injury.” (The Guardian, Jan. 24, 2020)
A Mother Responds
My wife, the mother of a son who suffered a TBI offered the following response to the President via social media:
President Donald Trump stated that a traumatic brain injury is just a few headaches. “Nothing serious.”
As a Mother of a TBI survivor, (serious auto accident) you are wrong Mr. President.
Survivors and their families struggle with long term cognitive, behavioral and physiological consequences of their injuries. I am proud of my son, Troy, for overcoming many of these challenges he has had to face in the last 29 years. Yes that’s right. TBI’s can and do last for a lifetime.
I am proud of my daughter for her help with his new challenges during the last six months. You are wrong President Trump. There are many resources on Traumatic Brain Injuries. You need to educate yourself on so many things. This would be a good place to start.
Yes, I am an angry Mother.
A Sister Responds
What an ignorant and totally disrespectful thing to say… I’d like to tell anyone who thinks otherwise to know the hell my brother endured, and continues to endure, due to his TBI. We, as his family shared in his little piece of hell as his entire personality was altered.
My brother continues to struggle. These struggles affect the entire family. It’s impossible not to be affected as a family member. Impossible.
Traumatic Brain Injuries never go away. Pills don’t make it disappear. Time doesn’t heal the scars. They call them TRAUMATIC injuries for a reason.
People don’t understand that when brain tissue is damaged, it is damaged forever. It never heals. The neural pathways may sometimes be reworked so some function may be regained. But it’s never completely normal again. Never.
From the outside, you may not notice the injury. The TBI victim carries this stigma. No visible scars. The scars and effects are all inside. Deep inside.
The person with the TBI may be judged due to his “invisible” injury. They may appear largely normal on the surface, but things that used to be easy or automatic are no longer that way. People may judge them because they “just don’t seem right.” Maybe slow. Maybe just dumb. And “they can’t remember simple stuff.” It’s a cruel injury.
It angers me because it is happening to my brother. And he is none of those things.
Yes, I am an angry Sister.
A Country Starts to Respond
A major veterans group called on President Donald Trump to apologize for remarks the group said minimized the traumatic brain injuries suffered by U.S. service members in a Jan. 8 Iranian missile attack in Iraq.
The head of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, William “Doc” Schmitz, said in a statement Saturday that the organization “expects an apology from the president to our service men and women for his misguided remarks.”
The organization noted that “TBI is known to cause depression, memory loss, severe headaches, dizziness, and fatigue — all injuries that come with both short- and long-term effects.”
In light of that announcement, “and President Trump’s remarks which minimized these troops’ injuries, the Veterans of Foreign Wars cannot stand idle on this matter,” Schmitz said. (USA Today, Jan. 26, 2020)
A Son with a TBI Responds
So sad to hear about past soldiers who took their own lives due to this injury. However, I totally understand their thoughts and feelings as they dealt with this injury.
Living with this injury that others cannot see is hard. I live with it every day.
I may try to donate my own brain to research, if it may help.
I’ve lived with a TBI for over 29 years now. President Trump, these are not “headaches!”
I sympathize with all soldiers who suffer from this. It’s very hard to live with at times. Thank you for giving your service for us all. We are all in this together.