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The shame of Bush's America, part 2: soldiers survive, but are maimed for life



Typical pattern of injury among soldiers wearing Kevlar vests to protect the chest and abdomen.

UPDATE: I posted on this on 12/9, but I’m moving it back up the food chain because the New England Journal of Medicine has published the photos now. The article is entitled “Caring for the Wounded in Iraq — A Photo Essay,” by George E. Peoples, M.D., James R. Jezior, M.D., and Craig D. Shriver, M.D.

Warning — some of these pictures are extemely graphic. This is what the Pentagon doesn’t want the public to see. After all, they don’t even want you to see flag-draped coffins, let alone pictures like this.

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Remember, this administration is not taking care of its veterans. Medical needs are not being met in times of budget cuts, and tens of thousands are returning home from Iraq after surviving hellish wounds. How are they going to pick up the rest of their lives? More U.S. Soldiers Survive War Wounds (AP):

For every American soldier killed in Iraq (news – web sites), nine others have been wounded and survived — the highest rate of any war in U.S. history. It isn’t that their injuries were less serious, a new report says. In fact, some young soldiers and Marines have had faces, arms and legs blown off and are now returning home badly maimed.

“This is unprecedented. People who lose not just one but two or three extremities are people who just have not survived in the past,” said Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who researched military medicine and wrote about it in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

The journal also published a five-page spread of 21 military photographs that graphically depict the horrific injuries and conditions under which these modern-day MASH surgeons operate.

…In one traumatic case, Gawande tells of an airman who lost both legs, his right hand and part of his face. “How he and others like him will be able to live and function remains an open question,” Gawande writes.

“The critical core, your chest and your abdomen, are protected,” said Dr. George Peoples, a Walter Reed Army Medical Center surgeon who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Parodixically, what we’ve seen is devastating extremity injuries because people are surviving wounds they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

By mid-November, 10,369 American troops had been wounded in battle in Afghanistan or Iraq, and 1,004 had died — a survival rate of roughly 90 percent. In the Vietnam War, one in four wounded died, virtually all of them before they could reach MASH units some distance from the fighting.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding