Congress urges Pentagon to take brain injury seriously as Trump downplays the damage

By | February 13, 2020

A bipartisan group of members of Congress pressured the Department of Defense to take traumatic brain injuries in the military seriously just days after President Trump appeared to downplay ones suffered by service members in an attack launched by Iran.

“Given the potential for serious long-term effects of TBIs, DoD must continue to take steps to protect and treat servicemembers who have been exposed to significant blast exposure,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, as well as Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. and Republican Rep. Don Bacon, wrote in a letter.

After Iran launched an airstrike on a military base in western Iraq that housed U.S. troops in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, 109 soldiers were left with brain injuries, according to the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, Trump downplayed the brain injuries service members sustained last month, saying he “heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things.”

“I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen,” Trump said. “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.”

The types of brain injuries the Pentagon reported came from “blast exposure,” which can result in minor effects including concussions or more severe long-term neurological problems.

“TBIs are a significant health issue that can have serious long- and short-term effects,” the members of Congress wrote. “While the symptoms may be minor, if left untreated, a TBI can have significant effects on one’s cognitive ability or leave one with permanent physical disability.”