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Pascrell Calls on Pentagon to Come Clean on Troop Injuries

Trump government repeatedly changes number of troops harmed in attack

Washington, D.C., February 10, 2020

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, reacted furiously to a report that the Pentagon would revise up to 100 the number of U.S. troops injured in a January 8 Iranian attack on Al-Asad airbase in Iraq, marking at least the sixth time the Defense Department has raised the figure since Donald Trump said no servicemembers had been injured in the attack.

“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. The lives of our sons, our daughters, and our neighbors are at stake here and we are not getting a straight answer. This would mark at least the sixth time the government has changed the number of troops hurt and after Trump himself said no soldiers were harmed by Iran. Their credibility is shot. This smells more and more like a massive cover-up. We need to know the state of our troops and we need to know now.”

On January 23, Pascrell wrote to the Department of Defense Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness and the Assistant Secretary of Defense Health Affairs asking for information on the extent of U.S. servicemember injuries in Iraq. On February 4, Pascrell and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE-02) penned a bipartisan letter to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Defense continuing to seek answers on the extent of U.S. troop injuries.

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 United States.

For two decades, Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in advancing brain injury policy on Capitol Hill. He co-founded the Congressional Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force in 2001 and has served as task force co-chair since its inception. The Task Force works to increase awareness of brain injury in the United States, supports research initiatives for rehabilitation and potential cures, and strives to address the effects these injuries have on all Americans, including children, the elderly, members of the Armed Forces, and athletes. Rep. Pascrell also champions funding for programs at the Department of Defense that go towards TBI research and treatment, such as the Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and the National Intrepid Center of Excellence.

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