A bipartisan group of senators is demanding to know what steps the military is taking to protect troops from brain injuries caused by the blasts from firing their own weapons.

The senators — Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts; Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa; and Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina — made the demand in a detailed letter sent on Thursday to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III.

It was incited by recent research by the Defense Department and reporting by The New York Times showing that repeated blast exposure from weapons like artillery and rocket launchers can cause lasting and profound brain damage, but that the military often fails to protect troops, or even recognize the risks, from the blasts.

“Our service members have been suffering the health consequences of blast overexposure for far too long, and they’re still not seeing real action to limit and track these risks,” Ms. Warren said in a statement.

Brain injuries from repeated blast exposure can lead to depression, cognitive problems, panic attacks, violent outbursts and other symptoms that may not surface until months or years afterward. Those symptoms are routinely mistaken in the military for post-traumatic stress disorder or, in some cases, for willful misconduct, The Times found.

Troops who fired large numbers of artillery rounds or rockets dealt with sleeplessness, confusion and an inability to control their moods. Some started to hallucinate. Many died by suicide. But the military often did not recognize what was happening, and either treated the troops for routine mental health problems or punished them for acting out.

The senators’ letter lists two pages of concerns about the long-term effects of blasts on brain health. It orders the Defense Department to report back by the end of February on efforts to address the problem.

A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter, saying the department would instead respond directly to the senators.

It is not the first time Congress has pushed for action on blast exposure. In 2018, Congress enacted a bill, introduced by Ms. Warren, that required the Defense Department to measure the blast intensity of its weapons and study the effect on troops’s brains. A second bill, in 2020, required the military to begin documenting service members’ blast exposure in their records.

Driven by the mandates, the Defense Department has undertaken 26 studies in recent years on blast exposure and its health effects. In 2022, the department created a sprawling effort, called the Warfighter Brain Health Initiative, to gather information on the problem and recommend solutions. For the first time, it published a recommended safety threshold for weapons blast exposure.

This year, the military will start giving cognitive tests to all new troops and will retest them every five years, to watch for signs of mental decline. Special Operations plans to start conducting the tests for its troops more frequently, every three years.

But troops say the efforts at the top have so far led to few changes for the rank and file. Weapons that deliver blasts at more than twice the recommended safety limit are still in wide use. Safety instructions from the Pentagon are merely recommendations that commanders in the field are free to disregard. And during training, some bystanders are still needlessly exposed to brain-rattling blasts.

“I want answers about what military leaders have done” in the years since Congress imposed the mandates, Ms. Warren said in her statement.

The science of blast injury is still being explored. It is not yet clear which kinds of blasts produce brain injuries, or how repeated blasts may compound the problem. So little is known that the safety threshold established by the Pentagon in 2022 was not based on any scientific evidence, and may have little relation to what is actually safe.

Kathy Lee, the department’s director of Warfighter Brain Health policy, said that during listening sessions with troops, many of them said they saw brain health as important, but did not want safety protocols to dilute training.

“That’s probably the biggest concern for commanders,” she said. “They’re very worried about brain health, but where’s the line of making sure that we are strong and lethal and can defend the homeland?”

Combat arms careers have been defined for generations by working around weapons blasts, and that changing the mind-set toward blasts will require a cultural shift, Ms. Lee said.

In the meantime, she said, the department was stepping up its efforts to track and treat brain injuries.

Tracking service members’ blast exposure, as required by Congress, is still in its planning stages, and it increasingly looks as if the system will not involve actual individual tracking of all troops.

Special Operations Command plans to fit all its operators with gauges that measure and record every blast. But the rest of the military is leaning toward a system that would assign each service member an estimated blast dose based on assumptions about their training schedule and job category.

Several researchers warned that applying broad estimates could easily miss individual exposures, and undermine the intent of the law.

Many veterans and families pushing for more protection for troops see the fleet of studies and safety recommendations coming out of the Pentagon as little more than window dressing.

“The Pentagon hasn’t treated this with the urgency it deserves,” said Frank Larkin, a retired Navy SEAL and Secret Service agent.

Mr. Larkin’s son, who also joined the SEALs, died by suicide after struggling with depression and other behavioral issues. After his death, it was revealed that his brain was riddled with a unique pattern of damage seen only in veterans exposed to weapons blasts.

“There are things they can do now to make a difference, and they are spinning their wheels,” Mr. Larkin said of the Pentagon.

He predicted that the military would conduct business as usual unless confronted with overwhelming evidence of harm.

“They will do what they have always done, until something kicks the rudder and forces change,” he said. “We need hard science. Until then, they will not want to be bothered.”

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