Members on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate are pressing the Department of Defense (DoD) for an update on their efforts to better prevent and protect servicemembers from traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Don Bacon (R-NE), co-Chairs of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) bipartisan letter to the DoD comes after 109 American servicemembers suffered TBIs following an Iranian missile strike on Al Asad Airbase housing U.S. troops in Iraq Jan. 8.
“Given the potential 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,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
The Pentagon confirmed the number of injured U.S. troops, revised up for the sixth time on Feb. 10 diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, adding 76 of them had returned to duty.
The U.S. military in the past said an increase in numbers in the weeks after the attack are expected because symptoms can take time to manifest and troops can sometimes take longer to report them.
Pascrell and Bacon penned a letter on Feb. 4 to the Inspector General of the DoD continuing to seek answers on the extent of U.S. troop injuries. In it, Pascrell questioned the credibility of the President Donald Trump’s administration of the subject, declaring it is “shot. This smells more and more like a massive cover-up.”
“It is time for the Trump Pentagon to come clean,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Despite Trump’s denigrating insult to our troops, traumatic brain injury is not a mere ‘headache.’ It is a potentially life-altering condition for sufferers and their families. We need to know the state of our troops and we need to know now.”
Effects of traumatic brain injury can be short-term or long-term, and include impaired thinking or memory, movement, vision or hearing, or emotional functioning, such as personality changes or depression. Currently, between 3.2 million and 5.3 million people, including civilians, veterans, and servicemembers, live with a TBI-related disability in the U.S.