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.
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