- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2020

The commander of the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State fighters has approved 29 Purple Heart awards for troops who were injured during a Jan. 8 Iranian missile attack on the al-Asad air base in Iraq.

The first six were presented over the weekend to U.S. Army soldiers currently in Iraq and Kuwait, officials with U.S. Central Command said Monday.

Army Lt. Gen. Pat White, commander of Combined Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, signed off on the awards following a formal review in accordance with Army and Air Force regulations, officials said.

“Individual units were responsible for submitting award packages to (Operation Inherent Resolve) for service members who had been injured and may be eligible for the Purple Heart as a result of the ballistic missile attack,” Navy Commander Zachary Harrell, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, said in a statement.

Pentagon officials said 110 U.S. military personnel were eventually diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury following the missile barrage.

“It is important to note that a traumatic brain injury diagnosis does not automatically qualify a service member for Purple Heart eligibility or awarding,” Cmdr. Harrell said. The “process was designed to be a fair and impartial proceeding that evaluated each case in accordance with applicable regulations.”

The remaining Purple Hearts are expected to be presented this week, officials said.

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