Another Under-Told Iraq Story

We are still waiting for a verdict in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby perjury and obstruction trial so in the meantime I want to bring your attention to a series of issues to which I was drawn over the weekend. Thanks to the good folks at Discover magazine, especially Patti Adcroft and Michael Mason, we now know much, much more about how our government is letting down our soldiers when it comes to treating the brain injuries they have suffered in Iraq. In a piece entitled, "Dead Men Walking," Mason tells us that as many as 7,500 soldiers may have undiagnosed "traumatic brain injury" as a result of those Improvised Explosive Devices which are the weapon of choice for Iraqi insurgents.

Here is more from Mason: "The lifetime cost of care for brain-injured troops could reach 35 billion, according to a Nobel prize-winning economist." He notes that while the military initially does a fine job of rescuing troops and treating their head injuries, the level of care drops off dramatically just a little later down the road. "Many states do not have a single brain-injury rehabilitation center," Mason writes, "and of the states that do offer some level of TBI treatment few actually provide enough assistance to acquire even the most basic level of specialized care." And that's just for U.S. troops. Adcroft tells me that friendly Iraqi soldiers also are suffering greatly from TBI--and of course those poor people will have absolutely no chance of getting decent health care for the rest of their lives.

Adcroft also tells me, and it has been reported elsewhere, that there is a great discrepancy between the casualty figures offered by our military and the ones offered by our veteran affairs bureaucrats. And, finally, looming over all of this is the concern--also expressed to me by people who should know-- that our military is zooming mortally wounded troops out of Iraq so quickly not just because it can (and should) but also to ensure that fatality figures out of Iraq are kept as low as possible. In other words, soldiers who in past wars would have died in combat, on battlefields, now are dying from their wounds hours or days later, thousands of miles away, and thus are being classified in a different way. Any way you slice it, and from any and all of these angles, this is an awful and awfully sad story.

By Andrew Cohen |  March 5, 2007; 10:39 AM ET
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Another way of winning the hearts and minds of people according to the Bush modus operandi.

Another way is to bring home the suffering of a senseless and illegal war perpetrated by those politicians and their neocon partners who made sure that they never got close to the battlefield.

Posted by: Salamon | March 5, 2007 04:06 PM

Unfortunatly, it is also typical of the way this Administration has operated. Despite the tremendous sacrifices these brave people have made, the Administration has no plan in place to provide for the care of the injured troops or their families. They are being used and abused, and it is sad--and disgusting.

Posted by: Michael Canny | March 5, 2007 04:39 PM

This is an old story. VA hospitals have had a bad history, even before the 'evil' Bush Administration.

Clean it up now - or privatize.

Moral: Government does not run things like health care very well.

Posted by: Louis Kiernan | March 5, 2007 04:46 PM

Based on this untold story, it would be interesting to know the number of battle related deaths of soldiers from Iraq that occur within the first week or two of arrival at Walter Reed or the hospital in Germany where they are evacuated from the battle field. Are these deaths reported as battlefield deaths or as unrelated?

Posted by: Sagrid E. Edman | March 5, 2007 04:52 PM

As the mother of a soldier who was housed in Minneapolis, at one of the four VA Polytrauma Units which claim to be experts in Traumatic Brain Injury, I give thanks daily that we won our battle with the VA and the Army, with Congressional intervention, and got him into private rehab after five months in that place. They knew no more about TBI than they did about catching mice, which they were obviously very bad at from the hundreds of visible mouse traps. The VA felt that the best option for him was nursing home care. After four weeks in private rehab, he began speaking, eating, standing, and can now walk by himself. Of course, the VA says he would have reached those levels there as well. The hopeful part of this whole Walter Reed and soldier treatment debacle is that people are at least admitting that what is happening is not good enough, and in fact, that it's wrong, instead of just continually saying there aren't any problems. Hopefully it will continue and progress will be made!

Posted by: Diane Briest | March 5, 2007 04:55 PM

The Bush Administration seems to bring out the worst of the worst in this country in just about everything! Those who continue to make excuses for his war, foreign policy, emergency response capability, and very poor domestic policies need a serious reality check.

I'm nonpartisan in my politics but I think that it's long past the time that "conservatives" and their born-again advocates need to just shut up and let other people clean up their mess. What hypocrits!!

Posted by: Andy | March 5, 2007 05:03 PM

No, Louis Kiernan, with the Bush administration you have a group whose sole purpose coming into office was to diminish government, to denigrate both its reputation and efficacy. You need to look no further than both FEMA and the Veterans Administration that worked quite well under Bill Clinton. But, the Busheviks, in their rush to put loyal political cronies in positions that used to require expertise, were successful in making government seem not only inept but also uncaring. In their rush to privatize everything, so their corporate benefactors could increase their war profiteering capabilities, they betrayed the very soldiers they professed to so respect. They employed military contractors to torture and run black ops, damaging the reputation of the entire US military. They turned the iconic US image from the Statue of Liberty into a hooded prisoner standing on a fruit crate with electrodes attached. It will take two generations to undo the damage this government has done. If you enabled it by your vote, we feel your pain. The Bush's plan to destroy respect for government worked spectacularly. We've now borrowed nearly a trillion dollars from the Chinese to pay for their imbecilic fiascos, yet they have the nerve to talk to us about "national security"! That's how incompetent fools ended up getting Medals of Freedom, and the US taxpayer ends up losing $8 billion of its hard-earned money in Iraq that simply disappeared, walked away, because accounting practices really didn't fit into the equation. Oh yes, let's have MORE privatization!

Posted by: filmex | March 5, 2007 05:15 PM

this is good too, it was on PBS when I saw it..

ABC News: The Journey Back From Brain Injury ...Bob Woodruff sustained a traumatic brain injury when an IED exploded near the vehicle he was traveling in while covering the war in Iraq. ...

I saw it about 8 days ago... very well done , and according to the Veterans Association , there are more like 200,000 wounded coming back , some of them with internal injuries besides head injuries...soft tissue damage , kidneys , livers , etc.

the Veterans Administration has had its funding cut 3 times since the Iraq occupation for OIL started...

as Cheneys/Halliburton , Rumsfelds/Bechtel Group and the Bushes and James Baker III's Carlyle Group posts record profits...

Cheney has also started a mercenary company that should reap a good profit if it doesnt kill the presidential hopefulls "accidently" on purpose... Would you have a group guarding Pelosi , Clintons and Obama that Cheney formed?

Poppy AKA George H.W. Bush has been involved in more than one head of states assassination... he propped up Noriega and Saddam so he could topple them...

Posted by: actually | March 5, 2007 06:44 PM

the name of the Mercenary Company is Blackwater... they have over 20,000 men in the field... they are not tracked but currently they are responsible for guarding 48 different Ambassadours , Pelosi when she went to Iraq , the Clintons and others ....

If you were Pelosi or of the Clintons would you want Cheneys people guarding you?

and how about that Alberto Gonzales , he's a keeper isn't he?

Posted by: ps. | March 5, 2007 06:47 PM

The pre-planned attack on Afghanistan, as we have seen, was meant to nullify the contract between the Taliban and the Bridas Corporation, to assure access to the Caspian Basin riches for American oil companies. It was a pure play of international energy policy. It had nothing to do, as designed, with apprehending Osama bin Laden--a pure play of security policy.[...]On October 7, 2001 the carpet of bombs is unleashed over Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, the former Unocal consultant, is installed as head of an interim government. Subsequently he is elected President of Afghanistan, and welcomes the first U.S. envoy--Mr. John J. Maresca, Vice President for International Relations of the Unocal Corporation, who had implored Congress three years previously to have the Taliban overthrown. Mr. Maresca was succeeded by Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad--also a former Unocal consultant. (Mr. Khalilzad has since become Ambassador to Iraq.)

With the Taliban banished and the Bridas contract moot, Presidents Karzai of Afghanistan and Musharraf of Pakistan meet on February 8, 2002, sign an agreement for a new pipeline, and the way forward is open for Unocal once more.

( Mr. Khalilzad has since become Ambassador to the United Nations.)

replacing Bolton...

search on PNAC JINSA Douglas Feith Perle and see who else is backing bush...

Posted by: hello to | March 5, 2007 06:50 PM

It a pity that US gets sucked into wars and sometimes the soldiers have NOT even heard of places they going to fight 1000's miles away in alien cultures. For the same reason nobody will come into US to fight a ground war. They will loose.

Bush is peddling a lie. He says lets fight the terrorist over there so that they don't come to fight in Badlands - Its an unfortunate name. Very unlikely they will get there.

Bush sold you some baloney on Iraq. Now its a quagmire. How is he going extricate himself of this?

The Dems will get will get deeper into quagmire Just like Lyndon Johnson. Whether its Dems or the Republican war has never been their strong point. Its initial bravado with aerial bombing but on a ground war the US forces perform poorly. So its cut & run what else can they do - fight indefinitely. Its a no brainer

Posted by: Anil (UK) | March 5, 2007 06:59 PM

raum für notizen

Cheney's Halliburton stock options rose 3,281% last year

Posted by Lars February 12, 2007

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) asserts that Cheney's options -- worth $241,498 a year ago -- are now valued at more than $8 million.
Cheney told "Meet the Press" in 2003 that he didn't have any financial ties to the firm.

"Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest," the Vice President said. "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years."

Posted by: allo babies... | March 5, 2007 07:21 PM

A soldier friend of mine experienced 3 different IED explosions in Iraq, for which he was awarded 3 Purple Hearts. Unfortunately, the docs in theater did not diagnose his brain injury and it wasn't until after he came back when his deployment was over that his TBI was finally diagnosed. He knew he wasn't right (poor short-term memory, migraines, many other symptoms), but he had to be persistent to get the problems recognized (not to mention to get a 50% disability rating!). If it was this difficult for him to get his brain injury diagnosed, I can only begin to imagine what difficulty others might have whose injuries are less severe, but who are also experiencing significant cognitive deficits. Every troop who goes through these kinds of explosions should be automatically evaluated for brain injury. It would not surprise me at all if the 7,500 figure cited in the article greatly underestimates reality...

Posted by: AZS | March 5, 2007 07:42 PM

This is only my opinion and might be based on incorrect knowledge and belief. If you agree, fine. If you don't agree and can share new info with me, my thanks in advance.

I am a veteran who has never seen hostile fire, thank God, and I am eternally grateful to the woman or man who had sustained the injury that I might have had instead.

"To Care for Him Who Shall Have Borne the Battle, His Widow, and His Orphan."

This is the mission of the Veteran's Administration and now the Department of Veteran's Affairs. It was spoken by Abraham Lincoln.

The history of this nation is filled with the screwing-over of both active duty military and disabled *enlisted* personnel. I have never heard of an officer denied timely, correct, competent medical care nor have I ever heard of an officer supplementing his/her base pay and allowances with food stamps.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

If a service member's pay can be effectively cut with each budget year by providing pay increases that don't feed the kids and pay for the car, and keep the house out of foreclosure *while person in the uniform is serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Sudan,* what else are can enlisted personnel expect?

Doesn't the body armor paid for by families show anything about how those at the top feel about "les miserables?"

Add contaminated water, lack of sanitary facilities, "50/50 laundry service" courtesy of Halliburton (a Texas corporation with a global reach), what is an enlisted person to think of how their nation sees them?

The budget decisions, the National Guard call-ups (is New Orleans in the purview of the National Guard?), and the lack of armored vehicles and shortages of ammunition plague the boots on the ground. And these decisions are made in the comfy confines of the Pentagon and the White House.

The only thing that this nation's troops don't lack is the inability to distinguish a killer, suicide bomber, or other hazardous person from the innocent populace.

Lest I forget, the Army and Marine Corps seem to lack accountability on the part of their officers. How many officers have been brought into a court-martial to account for torture and murder? According to my count, it is just one: former Brigadier General Janice Karpinski in the matter of Abu Ghraib.

I don't know where or when the VA and the military medical system lost sight of this mission statement but it has been a long time since they really did what they were responsible for doing.

It is unconscionable that Bushco sees any mission besides screwing the service members and disrespecting their lives as accomplished.

Given the foregoing, why are so many of us behaving as "sheeple?"

Please contact your representative in the House and your senators to begin impeachment proceedings tonight.

Thank you for hearing me out.

Posted by: paula_hw | March 5, 2007 08:26 PM

Re: casualty incidence discrepancies

The VA may be counting total number of patients as the low number, where the higher figures include all diagnoses. Most patients have more than one diagnosis. Ex: TBI, PTSD, multiple fractures, amputation, open wound, burns, etc.

Undercounting seems to be the norm with the Bush administration.

TBI standard of care includes comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation with professional nursing around the clock.

The military's policy of holding on to patients after their hospital discharge and making them outpatients is contraindicated - they should all be made inpatient rehabilitation levels of care, and traditionally, this was accomplished via medical military discharge and transfer to the VA or cilvilian healthcare system. Trauma rehab is a specialty, and it can't be put into play overnight. The military needs to look at sending their solider patients to civilian rehab facilities that specialize in this care. The same goes for PTSD and acute mental illness. What these patients are missing most of all if receiving adequate professional nursing care. I blog about it at Universal Health.

Posted by: N=1 | March 5, 2007 08:31 PM

When will people finally wake up and realize that the so called war on terror is a sham manufactured by the Bush Administration in order to line the pockets of the most powerful members of American society and keep the Middle East safe for Big Oil while enhancing their prospects for staying in power through at least two election cycles and possibly a third by thier incessant fear mongering and the obscuring of facts. You want proof? Which jail is obl in again? The US government has become a hyperpower accountable to no one, and apparently, not even the majority of the American people who want a different course than the one currently been pursued by the Bush Administration. Everything these people have touched in the past six years has turned to lead. Can anyone seriouly think of one positive impact this administration has had on society at large? (If it pleases the wingnuts on the extreme right it doesn't count). If you can think of something do you think that it's been worth the trillion dollar (and counting) debt that your grandchildren will be saddled with?

Posted by: Steve from Canuckistan | March 5, 2007 08:50 PM

Louis Kiernan, the government IS capable of running health care systems. Just not the AMERICAN government. I'm an American registered nurse who emigrated to Australia to escape the fascism of the Bush Crime Family. The government runs the hospitals here, as governments do in all of Western Europe. In these countries, ALL CITIZENS get health care without having to fight insurance companies for it. That's because the governments in those countries have decided that it's their job to do what's best for THE PEOPLE. In the U.S., the government has decided its job is to do what's best for THE CORPORATIONS.

And you mention privatising medical services at Walter Reed. That's one of the reasons it was in such a mess. President Cheney steered the contract to administer the screening part of the operations to a man who had been a big shot at Halliburton. Where they once had 300 people handling the bureaucratic affairs of wounded soldiers' benefits, this ex-Halliburton hack cut it back to 50. So everyone had to wait forever for anything to get done. That's what privatisation means -- giving sweetheart deals to powerful insiders who steal the money and do a crummy job.

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