Monday, February 28, 2005

Us Casulties in Iraq: the REAL number is over 50,000

Its a figure you won't hear on the evening news or the Sunday talk shows. Its a figure the pentagon doesn't want you to know. You may think you know the war's human costs but the almost 1,500 soldiers killed in Action is only the smallest tip of the iceberg. Even WIA reports don't begin to tell the story because the Military only counts those directly wounded by hostile fire

In a classic case of burying the lead USA Today stumbles across the REAL number, and its a hell of a lot higher than anyone imagined :
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Of more than 5 million veterans treated at VA facilities last year, from counseling centers like this one to big hospitals, 48,733 were from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan
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and its going to get worse:
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Many of the most common wounds aren't seen until soldiers return home. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is an often-debilitating mental condition that can produce a range of unwanted emotional responses to the trauma of combat. It can emerge weeks, months or years later

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And PTSD is only the beginning of it. Modern medicine and armor have saved the lives of many who would have otherwise died even 10 years ago. But it means the injuries of the survivors have been that much more severe. There have been twice as many amputations in this was than any war since the Civil war and severe complex neurological traumas are also way up:
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in addition to amputations, many soldiers making this journey have head and neck injuries, frequently injured by improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, essentially remote-controlled bombs planted in the ground.

"The angle of the force of these IEDs is right for the neck and face. That's been devastating to folks over there," said Holt, explaining that Kevlar helmets do not protect the underside of heads and necks, where crucial nerves and blood vessels lie.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael S. Xydakis, a military surgeon, released a little-noticed study in September at a medical conference of head and neck surgeons. He found that over a 14-month period, about 1 in 5 US soldiers treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, which handles most Iraq casualties, had head or neck injuries.

These injuries, surgeons said, have long-term implications, with many involving irreversible brain damage, breathing and eating impairments, blindness, or severe disfiguration. The study prompted the military to add a full-time head and neck surgeon to a Baghdad field hospital.

"These folks are just starting to come back, and they may require care for a long, long time," said Holt.

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So now we know that we not only have a huge human tragedy on our hands but that an incredible stain is looming on our ability to care for veterans. So what has the Administration's response been? Essentially like all bad News In BushWorld; they are refusing to acknowledge the existence of the crisis. Instead, almost unbelievably, Bush has proposed we cut Funding to the VA . Meanwhile on Capitol Hill his leadership cronies Whacked the republican Veteran's Affairs Committee chairman for the unpardonable crime of sticking up for wounded and homeless vets.: His replacement?:
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A Republican leadership aide, who asked not to be identified, said the GOP leaders wanted someone like Buyer who could "tell the veterans groups, 'Enough is enough.'"

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It’s a number the Pentagon never wanted you to know, and has played incredible shell games to avoid revealing. It’s a number the Bush administration is simply pretending doesn’t exist. It’s a number that bodes crisis for our health care system, and it’s a number that will have a profound impact on our crime and poverty statistics, as well as heavily tax our social security system. It’s a sad and tragic number representing an incredible waste of human potential. Now you know what the number is. What are you going to do about it?

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