Eight service members who had been removed from Iraq for additional treatment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany returned to the United States on Thursday for more medical care, while nine other service members remain in Germany, Hoffman said. The remaining 17 who were diagnosed with concussions, a mild form of TBI, have been returned to duty, he said.
All of those still receiving care are doing so with outpatient status, Hoffman said. Some of those receiving treatment in the United States will get care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre outside Washington, while others will return to their home bases.
The Defence Department is “committed to delivering programs and services intended to lead to the best possible outcomes for our service members who suffer any injury,” Hoffman said. “Over the last two weeks, we have seen a persistent and dedicated effort by our medical professionals in Iraq, Kuwait and Germany to diagnose any and all members who need assistance.”
The care was needed after 11 ballistic missiles left wreckage and deep craters at al-Asad air base, where more than 1,000 US service members were based along with Iraqi forces. Another missile landed outside Irbil, but without the same destruction.
At least one of the missiles at al-Asad struck just yards from a bunker with a service member in it, said Major General Alex Grynkewich, a senior US commander for the US mission in Iraq and Syria, during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday.
As far back as January 13, US military officials told reporters visiting al-Asad that “dozens” of service members were suffering from concussion-like symptoms. But defence officials had been vague in providing updates, declining to answer questions until Thursday about whether anyone needed to return to the United States for additional treatment or if anyone had returned to duty.
Esper, asked for the latest information on Wednesday, said he did not have it. He said “we can track that if you’re really interested in it,” though requests for the information already had been made for several days.
Hoffman, speaking at the Pentagon, said Esper directed a new review on Thursday morning of the processes for tracking who is wounded or injured in action. The goal, Hoffman said, is to be accurate and transparent with the American people.