- A minor traumatic brain injury was diagnosed in more than 100 U.S. soldiers following an Iranian missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq.
- President Donald Trump has repeatedly downplayed these injuries, insisting that they are "not very serious".
- "There's nothing mild about a brain injury," Michael Kaplen, a brain injury lawyer, said recently to Insider.
- "I wake up with a headache every morning," said Ryan Britch, a former National Guard sergeant, insider Thursday, 10 years after suffering from a mild TBI in Afghanistan.
- Frank Larkin, father of a Navy SEAL who died of suicide after struggling with an undiagnosed brain injury, described Trump's comments as "hard hit" in a January letter.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
More than 100 U.S. soldiers were diagnosed with minor traumatic brain injuries following an Iranian attack on U.S. forces in Iraq. Injuries that President Donald Trump has repeatedly downplayed as "not very serious".
"A brain injury has nothing mild," Michael Kaplen, brain injury lawyer and lecturer at George Washington University Law School, said recently to insiders, explaining that the term "trivializes a very serious and significant injury".
The word "mild" has been "used to describe what a brain injury is in terms of its consequences," he added.
"I wake up with a headache every morning."
In 2009, as an infantryman in the Vermont Army National Guard, Ryan Britch sent to Paktia, an area in Afghanistan on the border with Pakistan, where he suffered a light TBI in combat.
"I had a few close calls, I would say three in particular that I would either land (rocket-propelled grenade) or mortar within five to 10 meters of me," Britch, who left the National Guard as a sergeant, told Insider on Thursday , "I think the last one was probably the one who did it."
"I never passed out," said Britch, "but after the adrenaline went away I had a massive headache. I was dizzy. I was having trouble concentrating. I was irritable. I returned to the US and I didn't." I really think something was wrong until one day I went shopping and became incredibly dizzy and fell. "
When he noticed that something was wrong, he had it checked out. It took him more than a year to finally be diagnosed with a mild TBI.
"It was actually quite a frustrating experience," said Britch to Insider, explaining that "many (care) providers told me that I had invented the symptoms or that they did not appear or that I was just hungover. You can imagine the frustration of having legitimate symptoms and being dismissed, being rejected and experiencing that I am inventing the symptoms. "
"It was definitely a long way to find someone who was receptive and who understood and diagnosed my symptoms."
During this time, Britch was a student who had difficulty reaching college with the injury he sustained in Afghanistan. "My first four semesters at college were just a complete disaster," he said. "I couldn't concentrate on my work."
It's been 10 years since Britch was injured in combat.
"I wake up with a headache every morning. It feels like I'm hungover," said Britch, adding that he wakes up "incredibly stupid" with "terrible headache" and "difficulty concentrating." He said that he still had dizziness from time to time.
TBIs are a kind of ordinary war injury, but this type of invisible injury is not yet well understood.
Brain injuries can be chronic diseases that require long-term support for the data subject who may experience more severe control, language, concentration, memory and behavior problems over time, especially if the injury is not treated.
Depression is not an uncommon side effect of brain injury, and as Kaplen Insider said, "people who suffer from the long-term consequences of brain injury have much higher suicide rates," which is already a problem for veterans.
Navy SEAL Ryan Larkin died in 2017 of suicide after four combat tours in which he suffered a brain injury that remained undiagnosed and untreated. He died surrounded by his service medals.
"Ryan died of combat injuries, but not immediately," said his father Frank. the Capital Gazette said recently,
Larkin, an operator and explosive device operator, suffered severe brain damage as a result of the explosion, health workers found after his death.
"This will discourage many people"
In response to a U.S. drone attack that killed a top Iranian general, Tehran launched more than a dozen £ 1,000-2,000 ballistic missile launchers on January 8th with U.S. forces in Iraq.
Immediately afterwards, Trump announced that "no Americans were injured," but about a week later, the US military revealed that there were indeed injuries.
Shortly after the Pentagon began to report that troops in Iraq were diagnosed with TBIs after the Iranian missile attack, Trump downplayed their severity.
"I heard they had a headache and a few other things, but I would say and I can report that it is not very serious," he told reporters late last month. "I don't consider them to be very serious injuries compared to other injuries I've seen."
"It is difficult to express the impact of your testimony on me and my family today," said Frank Larkin wrote in a letter to the President on January 22nd.
"It was a hard blow to the gut," he wrote, calling Trump's words "an undeserved blow that anyone with a TBI, his shattered families, and the support of communities that face the consequences of insidious brain injuries every day have felt. "
In an interview earlier this week when the number of injured American service members rose to 109, the president told Fox Business that he had "heard from people dealing with trauma, head trauma".
"There is," Trump continued, "but I saw it a little differently than most of the others, and I won't change my mind about it."
"I definitely think we need to improve public understanding of traumatic brain injuries and promote treatment for people with traumatic brain injuries," said Britch on Thursday.
"The commander-in-chief is very important," he added. "If someone in this high office refuses to do so and says that it is not a serious injury and that they will not change their minds, I think that will prevent many people from getting treatment."
Britch is an Associate with the Veterans of America (IAVA) in Iraq and Afghanistan, a large non-partisan veteran association with more than 425,000 members dedicated to supporting veteran issues, including traumatic brain injuries.
Another group of veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in a statement in January that "it expects the President to apologize to our servants for his misguided remarks".