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- Iranian senior military officer
The army will be awarding Purple Hearts to 39 soldiers who were injured in January of 2020 when Iran struck their airbase in Iraq.
This decision came after a CBS News investigation published last month found that the injured soldiers had been denied the Purple Heart and its accompanying medical benefits despite qualifying for the award. The attacks were carried out in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
No deaths were reported from the attacks and U.S. officials initially said there had been no injuries stemming from the attack, but it was later confirmed that at least 110 soldiers had suffered traumatic brain injuries.
In May of last year, Centcom spokesman Cmdr. Zachary Harrell said, "It is important to note that a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) diagnosis does not automatically qualify a service member for Purple Heart eligibility or awarding."
After CBS's investigation, the Army's Human Resources Command said it would review the Purple Heart submissions for the soldiers.
The injured soldiers were notified of their qualification for the award on Wednesday, the Army told CBS.
Injured soldiers told CBS that they were pressured to downplay the extent of their injuries as to not undercut public comments that former President Trump had made about the incident. Trump had described the injuries as "not very serious."
"The messaging I was getting was just the political situation wasn't going to support more approvals," Captain Geoffrey Hansen, who helped lead a task force at the airbase, told CBS.
The Purple Heart comes with numerous lifetime benefits, including priority medical care at Veterans Affairs hospitals and preferences for federal hiring.