National Security

Published — April 11, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Report alleges problems in military’s brain injury study in Iraq

A U.S. Army Bradley armored vehicle burns after hitting an improvised explosive device. IEDs are responsible for a high number of brain injuries to servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hadi Mizban/Associated Press


A medical trial conducted on service members in Iraq with traumatic brain injury had serious oversight issues and subjected troops to “sub-standard patient care,” according to an inspector general report.

The military study involved testing anti-oxidants to help with longer-term problems associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI), which often occurs after a bomb blast. The study was conducted at Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, between December 2008 and March 2009,and involved 80 service members, Pentagon IG spokesman Gary Comerford said.

About 60,000 service members have been diagnosed with at least a mild case of TBI since 2007.

David Autry, spokesman for Disabled Veterans Association, criticized military investigators for taking so long to raise questions about the study.

“The most troubling part is that it’s taken three years since the concerns were first raised for the inspector general’s office to get involved,” Autry said. “It shouldn’t take three years to see what’s going on.”

He said the Pentagon is finally paying attention to traumatic brain injury. The old mindset, Autry said, was “’Shake it off, it’ll go away, you’ll be just fine.’”

The two-page summary of the inspector general’s findings will be followed by release of the full report later this week. The report criticizes the management of the trial and contains a series of recommendations for military units involved, including making sure that the military patients haven’t suffered any side effects and the investigation of possible misconduct by a Navy doctor.

The summary commends Army General Dr. Eric B. Schoomaker for beginning to implement the report’s recommendations and for looking into the “allegations of potential research misconduct.”

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