General Mark A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. (Photo: Gabriella Demczuk/ New America)
Now 64 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on U.S. bases in Iraq, a defense official confirmed on Thursday.
CNN’s Barbara Starr was first to report the latest increase in cases of brain injuries. This is the fourth time that defense officials have revised the number of troops being treated for Traumatic Brain Injury due to the attack. As of Monday, 50 U.S. troops bad been diagnosed with brain injuries.
So far, all of troops have been diagnosed with mild Traumatic Brain Injury, but that could change because brain injury symptoms develop over time, said Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Each new announcement of additional injuries should remind us how serious this attack was and how fortunate it was that there was no loss of life from these missiles. Because the symptoms of these injuries may take some time to become apparent, we can’t know yet if this is the full extent of the injuries suffered in the attack. Three weeks ago, it seemed as if no one was hurt, and with each passing week the number of injuries has increased. We need to take these injuries seriously and understand that they can have long-lasting, debilitating effects on the health of these Americans:
The effects of Traumatic Brain Injury can be crippling and can also mimic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. A 2018 study by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that troops with multiple brain injuries are twice as likely to die by suicide.
Bryan Box has written an important article about how this injury has affected his health and life:
What I know is that if you show most people an invisible wound, you’ll get invisible compassion. Wear earplugs all the time, and even your close friends will just blow it off. Go blind from an eye migraine for a few hours and see how much sympathy that gets. If people can’t see your injury, they can’t really see you. Empathy requires stimulus, and in the average person’s perspective, anybody can just “fake” post-traumatic stress or a TBI. This, of course, presumes the average person is capable of empathy.
We also need to remember that the injuries suffered three weeks ago were caused by a retaliatory strike that had been provoked by the president’s illegal attack earlier this month. More than five dozen Americans were hurt because of a reckless and illegal decision that the president made, and the full cost of that decision won’t be known for quite some time.