President Trump told reporters Wednesday that he didn’t consider the traumatic brain injuries reported by U.S. troops following an Iranian rocket attack to be serious.
On Friday, more than a week after Pentagon officials reported no injuries in a rocket attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops, reports surfaced that 11 service members had been flown out of the country to treat persistent symptoms of traumatic brain injury.
Military officials acknowledged on Tuesday that even more troops were being evaluated for injuries.
“I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things,” he told a reporter during a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “But I would say, and I can report, that it is not very serious.”
When asked if he considered “potential traumatic brain injury serious,” Trump passed the buck to another government agency.
“They told me about it numerous days later. You’d have to ask Department of Defense,” Trump said. The president could have stopped there, but he did not.
“No, I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen,” Trump told reporters. “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. I’ve seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war.”
He added: “No, I do not consider that to be bad injuries, no.”
When asked about the 11 U.S. servicemen injured in the Iran airstrikes, President Trump told @weijia he didn’t “consider them serious injuries relative to other injuries I’ve seen.” https://t.co/anmIdCHO6a pic.twitter.com/boSjvDujCS
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 22, 2020
According to the Military Times:
Concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, TBI, has been the most common serious injury to U.S. military personnel since 2000, with more than 408,000 cases diagnosed.
While most people who suffer concussion recover within seven to 10 days with appropriate treatment, severe or multiple concussions can have lingering and even lasting or progressive effects such as degeneration or brain changes that put aging veterans at risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions, according to researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.
Mild TBI also is associated with mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression: a study published last year in JAMA Psychiatry found that 21 percent of hospital patients diagnosed with a mild brain injury had PTSD or depression up to six months after an injury to their heads, compared with 12 percent of patients with an injury elsewhere on the body.
At their worst, multiple concussions have been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the slowly progressive disease associated with athletes in high contact sports such as professional football and hockey players. Persons with CTE exhibit behavioral changes, memory loss and cognitive problems as they age.