"We are facing a massive mental health problem as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 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." -- Bobby Muller, President Veterans for America
"The multiple nature of it [multiple tours and longer deployments] is unprecedented. People just get blasted and blasted and blasted." -- Maj. Connie Johnmeyer, 332nd Medical Group
According to official Defense Department (DOD) figures, 332,000 soldiers have suffered brain injuries since 2000, although most independent experts estimate that the number is over 400,000. Many of these are mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), a term that is profoundly misleading.
As David Hovda, director of the Brain Injury Research Center at the University of California at Los Angeles, points out, "I don't know what makes it 'mild,' because it can evolve into anxiety disorders, personality changes, and depression." It can also set off a constellation of physical disabilities from chronic pain to sexual dysfunction and insomnia.
TBI is defined as any incident that produces unconsciousness lasting for up to a half hour or creates an altered state consciousness. It is the signature wound for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where roadside bombs are the principal weapon for insurgents.