Thursday, December 23, 2010

Broken Bodies - Broken Lives

Covering the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, I learned that most of the land mines that the Soviets laid were designed to maim, not kill. The Soviets knew that a dead body causes no tactical inconvenience. It only removes the one dead person from the field. But a wounded person requires the assistance of people all the way down the line who could otherwise be fighting. Likewise with the home front in a war. The dead leave an awful vacancy in the lives of loved ones, but those who are seriously wounded or psychologically traumatized can disrupt families and society more. Families of the dead can move on, as difficult as it may be, and as awful as it may be to say; the families of the seriously maimed, physically or psychologically, never can.
The long tail of suffering that extends from the war front to the home front, and from dead and wounded soldiers and marines, sailors and airmen, to their wives and children, and to their children’s children, is statistically numbing and heartrending. Of the 2.2 million American troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, several hundred thousand have sustained physical and psychological wounds. The figures of 4,417 dead from Iraq and 1,368 from Afghanistan (as of November 10, 2010) are well-known and oft-quoted. But the physically wounded from both wars number more than 40,000, a staggering number, and roughly three-quarters of them have been wounded in a serious life- and family-affecting way. According to the Army Office of the Surgeon General, between 2001 and 2009 doctors performed 1,286 amputations, three-quarters of which were of major limbs.

Wounded Warrior Mission:
  • To raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members.
  • To help injured service members aid and assist each other.
  • To provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members.
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