A prominent veterans organization is calling on Donald Trump to apologize for a Wednesday press conference in which he downplayed injuries sustained by troops during a recent attack on an Iraqi military base where they were housed.
In a statement posted Friday on the Veterans of Foreign Wars website, the VFW’s national commander said the organization “cannot stand idle” in response to Trump’s comments.
“The VFW expects an apology from the president to our service men and women for his misguided remarks,” the commander, William “Doc” Schmitz, said in the statement.
After Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in early January, Iranian officials authorized a Jan. 8 retaliatory missile attack against Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq, which is known to house U.S. troops. Eight U.S. soldiers suffered concussion-like symptoms during the attack and three others sought behavioral health treatment, according to the Pentagon.
But in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the air base, Trump told the American people in prepared remarks that no U.S. troops were injured. When CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang pressed Trump on Wednesday to explain the discrepancy between his initial statements and the Pentagon’s report about troops who sustained injuries, Trump said he did not consider their injuries “serious.”
“I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things,” Trump said, adding, “But I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious.”
Concussions are defined as traumatic brain injuries by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. In most cases, they are non-fatal, but in many cases concussions can cause lasting conditions like memory loss, nausea, anxiety, and ― yes ― severe headaches.
“I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen,” Trump said on Wednesday, adding he believed other troops have been left in far worse condition resulting from previous attacks by Iran.
“I’ve seen people with no legs and no arms. ... I can consider them to be really bad injuries,” he said.
But he continued to suggest the injuries sustained by the 11 U.S. troops were minor.
“I do not consider that to be bad injuries,” Trump said.