Jan. 24 (UPI) — A total of 34 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following Iran’s missile attack on U.S. positions in Iraq last month, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said Friday.
On Jan. 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases where U.S. forces were stationed.
Initially, President Donald Trump said there had been no injuries in the attack, and the Pentagon has been criticized for a lack of information released about Americans who were hurt.
“The DoD is committed to delivering programs and services intended to deliver the best possible outcomes for service members who suffer any injury,” Hoffman said at a press conference at the Pentagon.
“Over the last two weeks we have seen a persistent and dedicated effort by our medical professionals on the ground in Iraq, Kuwait and Germany to diagnose and treat any and all members who needed assistance. We wish all these members well and we are dedicated to ensuring that they have the support and treatment they need for full recovery.”
Of those injured, eight service members who had previously been transported to Germany for medical care have been transported to the United States, where they will receive treatment either at Walter Reed Military Medical Center or at their home bases. None of the members remain in Germany receiving treatment, while one who received treatment in Kuwait has been returned to duty in Iraq and 16 others who remained in Iraq have been returned to duty.
Hoffman said it was not immediately clear whether the soldiers would be eligible for Purple Hearts.
Friday’s announcement updates the number of people injured from 11, reported earlier this month.
At a Wednesday press conference, Trump appeared to downplay the seriousness of reports of brain injuries and brain injury-like symptoms among troops in Iraq, saying, “I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things,” he said at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “But I would say and I can report it is not very serious.”
His remarks prompted criticism from Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., co-chair and founder of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, who sent a letter to Matthew Donovan, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Thomas McCaffery, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, expressing concern that “the comments of the Commander-in-Chief are concerning and show a clear lack of understanding of the devastating impacts of brain injury.”