50 US troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after Iranian missile attack
- The total number of service members in Iraq diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TBI) is now 50, a Pentagon spokesman said in a CNN report.
- The TBI diagnoses follows a missile strike at the Iraqi military's Al-Asad Airbase, where US and coalition troops were present.
- Fifteen of the 16 US service members who were recently diagnosed returned back to duty in Iraq.
- Officials said that the number of diagnoses is expected to change.
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Sixteen additional cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) have been diagnosed amongst US troops stationed in Iraq, bringing the total number of service members diagnosed to 50, a Pentagon spokesman said in a CNN report on Tuesday.
The TBI diagnoses follows a missile strike at the Iraqi military's Al-Asad Airbase, where US and coalition troops were present. Iranian forces on January 8, launched a barrage of missiles at the airbase and other US-locations in the country, but no American or coalition forces were killed. The Iranian missile strike was a retaliatory gesture after the US conducted a drone strike killing the regime's Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
US officials, including President Donald Trump, said at the time that no US troops were harmed. It wasn't until a week later that the Defense Department corrected the record and said "several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed."
A total of 34 US troops were initially diagnosed with concussions and TBI. Eleven US service members were transported to medical facilities in Germany and Kuwait for additional screening and treatment.
Fifteen of the 16 US service members who were recently diagnosed returned back to duty in Iraq, according to CNN. Officials reportedly said that the number of diagnoses is expected to change.
Pentagon officials reasoned that the fluctuation in the number of diagnoses were attributed to TBI, which they claim "comes over time."
According to the US's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs are defined as "a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury."
The CDC says that the severity of each TBI case can range from mild, "a brief change in mental status or consciousness," to severe, "an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury."
Despite the seriousness of the condition, Trump downplayed the diagnoses and likened them to "headaches."
"I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things," Trump said during a public press conference in Davos, Switzerland, last Wednesday. "But I would say, and I can report, it's not very serious. Not very serious."
Trump's remarks drew concern from medical experts and veterans, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), one of the largest veterans organizations in the country.
"The Veterans of Foreign Wars cannot stand idle on this matter," VFW National Commander William Schmitz said in a statement to Task & Purpose. "The VFW expects an apology from the president to our service men and women for his misguided remarks."
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