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Iraq: the hidden cost of the war
Andrew Stephen
Published 12 March 2007
America won't simply be paying with its dead.  The Pentagon is trying to silence economists who predict that several decades of care for the wounded will amount to an unbelievable $2.5 trillion.
They roar in every day, usually direct from the Landstuhl US air-force base in the Rhineland: giant C-17 cargo planes capable of lifting and flying the 65-tonne M1 Abrams tank to battlefields anywhere in the world.
But Landstuhl is the first staging post for transporting most of the American wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan back to the United States, and these planes act as CCATs ("critical care air transport") with their AETs — "aeromedical evacuation teams" of doctors, nurses and medical technicians, whose task is to make sure that gravely wounded US troops arrive alive and fit enough for intensive treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, just six miles up the road from me in Washington.
These days it is de rigueur for all politicians, ranging from President Bush and Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Iraq's previous "prime minister") to junior congressmen, to visit the 113-acre Walter Reed complex to pay tribute to the valour of horribly wounded soldiers.
Last Christmas, the centre was so overwhelmed by the 500,000 cards and presents it received for wounded soldiers that it announced it could accept no more.
Yet the story of the US wounded reveals yet another deception by the Bush administration, masking monumental miscalculations that will haunt generations to come.
Thanks to the work of a Harvard professor and former Clinton administration economist named Linda Bilmes, and some other hard-working academics, we have discovered that the administration has been putting out two entirely separate and conflicting sets of numbers of those wounded in the wars.
This might sound like chicanery by George W Bush and his cronies — or characteristic incompetence — but Bilmes and Professor Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist from Columbia University, have established not only that the number wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is far higher than the Pentagon has been saying, but that looking after them alone could cost present and future US taxpayers a sum they estimate to be $536bn, but which could get considerably bigger still.
Just one soldier out of the 1.4 million troops so far deployed who has returned with a debilitating brain injury, for example, may need round-the-clock care for five, six, or even seven decades.
In present-day money, according to one study, care for that soldier alone will cost a minimum of $4.3m.
Article continued here: Iraq: the hidden cost of the war
© New Statesman 1913–2007
Washington/Politics
Center for war-related brain injuries faces budget cut
Posted 8/8/2006
By Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war.
House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center — half of what the center received last fiscal year.
Proponents of increased funding say they are shocked to see cuts in the treatment of bomb blast injuries in the midst of a war.
"I find it basically unpardonable that Congress is not going to provide funds to take care of our soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line for their country," says Martin Foil, a member of the center's board of directors.   "It blows my imagination."
The Brain Injury Center, devoted to treating and understanding war-related brain injuries, has received more money each year of the war — from $6.5 million in fiscal 2001 to $14 million last year.   Spokespersons for the appropriations committees in both chambers say cuts were due to a tight budget this year.
"Honestly, they would have loved to have funded it, but there were just so many priorities," says Jenny Manley, spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee.   "They didn't have any flexibility in such a tight fiscal year."
George Zitnay, co-founder of the center, testified before a Senate subcommittee in May that body armor saves troops caught in blasts but leaves many with brain damage.   "Traumatic brain injury is the signature injury of the war on terrorism," he testified.
Zitnay asked for $19 million, and 34 Democratic and six Republican members of Congress signed a letter endorsing the budget request.
The House of Representatives approved its version of the spending bill June 20.   A vote in the Senate is pending.
Scientists at the center develop ways to diagnose and treat servicemembers who suffer brain damage.   The work is done at seven military and Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, including the center's headquarters at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, and one civilian treatment site.
The center has clashed with the Pentagon in recent months over a program to identify troops who have suffered mild to moderate brain injuries in Iraq from mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs — the most common weapons used by insurgents.
Preliminary research by the center shows that about 10% of all troops in Iraq, and up to 20% of front line infantry troops, suffer concussions during combat tours.   Many experience headaches, disturbed sleep, memory loss and behavior issues after coming home, the research shows.
The center urged the Pentagon to screen all troops returning from Iraq in order to treat symptoms and create a database of brain injury victims.   Scientists say multiple concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
The Pentagon so far has declined to do the screening and argues that more research is needed.
© Copyright 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Walter Reed Ex-Patient, Wife Speak Out on Poor Conditions at Army’s Top Medical Facility — Click Here
The Army's Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody admitted on Wednesday there has been a “breakdown in leadership” at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
His comments came three days after the Washington Post revealed that hospital rooms at Walter Reed were infested with mouse droppings, cockroaches, stained carpets, rodents and black mold.
We speak with a former Walter Reed patient; the wife of another patient, and a Salon.com reporter who documented the problems at Walter Reed two years ago.
The Iraq Effect: New Study Finds 600% Rise in Terrorism Since US Invasion of Iraq — Click Here
As the fourth anniversary of the Iraq approaches, a new study by Mother Jones magazine has found that the number of fatal terrorist attacks has increased by over 600 percent since the U.S. invasion.
We speak with the study’s co-author, Paul Cruickshank.
Is Torture on Hit Fox TV Show “24” Encouraging US Soldiers to Abuse Detainees? — Click Here
This past fall, the Dean of West Point, Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, along with experienced military and FBI interrogators and representatives of Human Rights First, met with the creative team behind the hit Fox Television show “24” and tell them to stop using torture because American soldiers were copying the show’s tactics.
We speak with two of the delegation’s members — former Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis, who served one year in Iraq and David Danzig, director of the Prime Time Torture Project for Human Rights First.
June 6, 2005
Stockpiling the Wounded from Iraq
Inside Walter Reed Hospital
By NICOLE COLSON
The flights almost always land at night — and the wounded are brought off planes in the dark.
Kept away from the news cameras, the nightly parade of the injured who arrive at Maryland's Andrews Air Force base from U.S. Army medical facilities in Germany are driven — sometimes in vans or school buses converted into ambulances — to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., the nation's top military hospitals.
These soldiers have gone from the front lines to the back door — brought back to the U.S. under the cover of darkness to keep them hidden from the media and the public.
According to the Pentagon, the soldiers arrive at night because "operational restrictions" at a runway near the military's main hospital in Germany, where the wounded from Iraq are brought first, affect the timing of flights.
But Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Operation Truth, an advocacy group for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, told Salon reporter Mark Benjamin that there is a different reason.
"They do it so nobody sees [the wounded]," Rieckhoff said. "In their mindset, this is going to demoralize the American people.  The overall cost of this war has been...continuously hidden throughout.  As the costs get higher, their efforts to conceal those costs also increase."
For the nearly 4,000 U.S. troops wounded in Iraq who have been brought through the doors of Walter Reed as of March, the personal cost of the war is staggering.
Despite the Bush administration's repeated claims of reaching a "turning point" in the occupation of Iraq, the 250 beds at Walter Reed have been filled to capacity since the invasion — and before that, since the early days of the war on Afghanistan in 2001.
In late 2003, press accounts reported that medical staff at Walter Reed staff were working 70- to 80-hour weeks to handle the influx of patients.
Cookies for vets
As Rumsfeld would say:
You go with the cookie jar you have
Overcrowding was so bad, in fact, that a number of the less seriously wounded were sent to stay in hotels near the hospital — transported during the day to Walter Reed for outpatient treatment.
The situation is no better today — though it is more hidden than ever because of the media blackout that the Pentagon has tried to throw over Walter Reed.
Among the patients, the number of seriously injured — suffering from burns, amputations, brain damage, infection and combat stress — show anything but a "turning point" in Iraq.
Ironically, the main reasons for the overflow of seriously injured are improvements in body armor and the use of better medical technology on the battlefield.
Because of this, many soldiers today are surviving with more severe injuries than in previous wars.
According to Pentagon statistics, approximately 6 percent of the more than 12,000 troops wounded by bombs or bullets in Iraq or Afghanistan have required amputation — three times the rate in Vietnam.
About 20 percent have head or neck injuries, and many more have suffered breathing and eating impairments, blindness or severe disfiguration.
Dr. Roy Aaron of Brown Medical School in Rhode Island told the Boston Globe in December that the Veterans Affairs system "literally cannot handle the load" of amputees.
A recent USA Today report found that between January 2003 and January 2005, more than 400 cases of traumatic brain injury — usually the result of a bomb or rocket attack — were diagnosed among wounded soldiers at Walter Reed alone.
Slightly more than half of those were left with some form of permanent brain damage.
* * *
IN NOVEMBER 2003, when the Bush administration was still claiming that U.S. soldiers were being greeted as "liberators" in Iraq, Ellen Barfield managed to visit Walter Reed.
A member of the national board of directors of Veterans for Peace, Barfield and three others members of the group went to the hospital to visit wounded troops, bringing them gifts and offering to talk.
She described meeting two Iraq war vets, one with a badly shattered leg and the other with a wound caused by being shot through both hips — bad enough, Barfield told Socialist Worker, that both were certain to be "fairly messed up for the rest of their lives."
As she and the others were leaving the hospital, they saw a soldier walking the halls of Walter Reed who was missing both hands.  "Different people are affected by different wounds differently, but I think that would be a really hard thing to experience," she said.  "Those are the things that kind of hit me the hardest."
Barfield said this was the last visit to Walter Reed that Veterans for Peace was allowed to make.  "We tried again, and they didn't even ever respond to our request," she said.  "They figured out who we were, and we were on the no-go list.  And it wasn't just us.  They got really touchy about everyone."
Patrick McCann, an activist with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, says that he remembers meeting one soldier during a Veterans Day vigil outside Walter Reed in 2003.  "Number one, he had both of his legs blown off mid-thigh by a rocket-propelled grenade," McCann said.  "Not mid-calf, but mid-thigh — above the knee...The guy was in complete shock, to the point that he was denying the injury, as if it was a hangnail or something."
McCann said he wonders about that soldier today.  "This guy was still very jingoistic," McCann said.  "He talked about some little Iraqi kid flipping the bird at him, and he shot at the kid.  I said, 'Well, I hope you didn't hit him.'  And he said, 'Well, I tried to.'  I wonder where that guy is, 18 months later, because I bet the reality has sunk in now."
* * *
Sometimes it takes years for betrayal to submerge, and start attacking the belief system
AmBush
 
Sometimes it takes years for betrayal to submerge, and start attacking the belief system.

We fight it off with denial and anger that is usually directed at others.

The anger builds and builds, until one day something hits a vulnerable pocket of pain.

Suddenly, a door opens, and all of that suppressed grief comes pouring out.

Like a huge red flash, 'Looking For A Few Good Men,' goes down the drain.

You can't stop crying.

You can't stop shaking.

In all of that frightening bereavement, the Truth is born.

You suddenly realize you were brutally betrayed by your government, and abandoned to die.

I felt like I walked into an ambush.

It was like having a lifelong mentor turn on me, and become my worst enemy.

All I wanted to do was run.

The only thing that stopped me, was I couldn't see from all of the crying.

The only glory in war is in the imagination of those who were never there.

These lies have been passed down from generation to generation.

My grief quickly turned into rage, as I saw how War Profiteering was behind all of that betrayal.

Door after door kept opening.

The War was staged from the very beginning.

Being USED for consumption, was the ultimate wound.

I was duped.

And, The War destroyed the lives of millions of people.

Empire is so clever.

I never knew what hit me.

Photograph:
 
This is a picture of a very close Vietnam veteran friend, who is on a brick walkway that is part of the 11 acres of the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Portland.

He was severely wounded in Vietnam, when he found out that the radio transmits he was giving B-52 bomber pilots, were flight directions over civilian targets.

On the day that he finally saw the truth, he walked into his unit orderly room, and told his commanding officer that his tour in Vietnam was over.

He was sent back to the United States, where he received a psychiatric discharge.

He spent the next twenty years recovering from his guilt and betrayal.

He is now a very active member in the anti-war movement.

When it comes to the lies about the Vietnam War, he is relentless.

Photo and words: Mike Hastie
U.S. Army Medic
Vietnam 1970-71
March 9, 2007
AmBush
Sometimes it takes years for betrayal to submerge, and start attacking the belief system.
We fight it off with denial and anger that is usually directed at others.
The anger builds and builds, until one day something hits a vulnerable pocket of pain.
Suddenly, a door opens, and all of that suppressed grief comes pouring out.
Like a huge red flash, 'Looking For A Few Good Men,' goes down the drain.
You can't stop crying.
You can't stop shaking.
In all of that frightening bereavement, the Truth is born.
You suddenly realize you were brutally betrayed by your government, and abandoned to die.
I felt like I walked into an ambush.
It was like having a lifelong mentor turn on me, and become my worst enemy.
All I wanted to do was run.
The only thing that stopped me, was I couldn't see from all of the crying.
The only glory in war is in the imagination of those who were never there.
These lies have been passed down from generation to generation.
My grief quickly turned into rage, as I saw how War Profiteering was behind all of that betrayal.
Door after door kept opening.
The War was staged from the very beginning.
Being USED for consumption, was the ultimate wound.
I was duped.
And, The War destroyed the lives of millions of people.
Empire is so clever.
I never knew what hit me.
Photograph:
This is a picture of a very close Vietnam veteran friend, who is on a brick walkway that is part of the 11 acres of the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Portland.
He was severely wounded in Vietnam, when he found out that the radio transmits he was giving B-52 bomber pilots, were flight directions over civilian targets.
On the day that he finally saw the truth, he walked into his unit orderly room, and told his commanding officer that his tour in Vietnam was over.
He was sent back to the United States, where he received a psychiatric discharge.
He spent the next twenty years recovering from his guilt and betrayal.
He is now a very active member in the anti-war movement.
When it comes to the lies about the Vietnam War, he is relentless.
Photo: Photo and words: Mike Hastie
U.S. Army Medic
Vietnam 1970-71
March 9, 2007
Image inserted by TheWE.cc
FOR J.D. (a pseudonym), the reality of Walter Reed has sunk in — only too well.
A patient at the facility last year, J.D. joined the Army in 2002 — after being assured that there were no plans for deployment overseas.
"But once I get there, and we're in basic training, that's when we find out about they're going to send people to Iraq," J.D. told Socialist Worker.  "I thought, 'Okay, what have I put myself into?'  But it was too late already."
After serving in Iraq for 11 months, J.D. was taken to a hospital in Iraq after suffering mysterious symptoms.
J.D. was sent back to the U.S. to Walter Reed, where doctors diagnosed cancer.
Since then, J.D. has undergone surgery at Walter Reed — although doctors have not been forthcoming about the exact procedures.
J.D. says that there is no history of cancer among family members and is convinced the illness was caused by exposure to depleted uranium — possibly during a night when the camp in Iraq came under fire for two hours.
The next day, the platoon sergeant said the attack was friendly fire.
"He explained to us that the unit in charge of the camp was testing some new equipment, and they were testing it on the Iraqi side," J.D. says.
"Our camp is divided from the Iraqi side only with a fence...They test everything on the Iraqi side.  They don't care who they kill, what kind of damage they do, because they're Iraqis.  So they don't care."
For months, J.D. asked doctors to perform a test to measure for depleted uranium — but they haven't responded.
"The other day," J.D. said, "I had an argument with one of my doctors because he said, 'Oh, that's nothing, uranium doesn't really cause cancer like you think.'"
J.D. says that "there are a couple more soldiers in this hospital who are young people who have no history of cancer, and they have leukemia or lymphoma or other types of cancer.
And the only one thing we all have in common is that we all were in Iraq.
There is another person who is trying to get that test done, and they keep on — not refusing, but they avoid the subject."
* * *
OTHER PATIENTS at Walter Reed have reported similar treatment.  Often, they say, the situation is even worse when dealing with injuries that can't be seen — the post-traumatic stress and other psychological problems resulting from witnessing and participating in the horrors of war.
Reporter Mark Benjamin interviewed 14 soldiers receiving psychiatric treatment at Walter Reed over the course of a year.  His conclusion: "[T]he Army's top hospital is failing to properly care for many soldiers traumatized by the Iraq war."
According to Benjamin, therapy is mostly administered by "a rotating cast of medical students and residents, not full-fledged doctors or veterans," with a heavy reliance on medication.
Even more troubling, however, is that the Army seems bent on denying that the stress of war caused the soldiers' mental trauma.
"When you get [to Walter Reed], they analyze you, break you down and try to find anything wrong with you before you got in [the Army]," Spc. Josh Sanders told Benjamin.
"They started asking me questions about my mom and my dad getting divorced.
That was the last thing on my mind when I'm thinking about people getting fragged and burned bodies being pulled out of vehicles.
They asked me if I missed my wife.
Well shit, yeah, I missed my wife.
That is not the fucking problem here.
Did you ever put your foot through a 5-year-old's skull?"
Then there's the case of Spc. Alexis Soto-Ramirez, who served with a unit of the Puerto Rico National Guard.  Suffering from chronic back pain that became excruciating during the war, Soto-Ramirez was diagnosed with "psychiatric symptoms" that were "combat-related."
He was sent to Walter Reed's "Ward 54" — the in-patient psychiatric unit — where he was supposed to get the best care the military had to offer.  Instead, less than a month later, he was dead — having hanged himself with the sash from his bathrobe.
René Negron told Benjamin that he visited Soto-Ramirez at Walter Reed shortly before his death and that "he was real upset with the treatment he was getting.  He said: 'These people are giving me the runaround...I'm getting more crazy being up here.'"
Soto-Ramirez's medical records illustrate the military's "bottom-line" thinking.  "Adequate care and treatment may prevent a claim against the government for PTSD," wrote a psychologist in Puerto Rico before sending him to Walter Reed.
"The Army doesn't want to get into the mental-health game in a real way to really help people," said Col. Travis Beeson, who was flown to Walter Reed for psychiatric help during his second tour with one of the Army's special operations units in Iraq.  They want to Band-Aid it.  They want you out of there as fast as possible, and they don't want to pay for it."
As of March, of the 244,054 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan discharged from service, more than 12,000 had been in VA counseling centers for readjustment problems and symptoms associated with PTSD.
According to a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "will produce a new generation of veterans at risk for the chronic mental health problems that result, in part, from exposure to the stress, adversity and trauma of war-zone experiences."
But if the experience of soldiers at Walter Reed is any indication, the U.S. government will turn its back on this newest generation of battle-scarred veterans — just as it did with soldiers returning from Vietnam.
Patrick McCann says this disregard for the health and welfare of veterans is part of a familiar cycle.  "They say that one in four Iraqi war vets — I'm not talking about Gulf War vets, I'm talking about this one — one in four Iraqi war vets who have returned have already been in for medical treatment," he said.
"VVAW used to have this slogan:  Used once and thrown away.  You're beginning to see that now, and it's going to balloon in geometric progression."
Josh Brand and Laura Lising contributed to this report.
Nicole Colson writes for the Socialist Worker.
SATURDAY
November 15, 2003
Walter Reed staff on hurt GIs: 'They just keep coming'


PFC. TRISTAN WYATT, 21, tries on his computerized titanium and graphite prosthetic leg at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., under the supervision of his prosthetist, Joe Miller. Wyatt lost his right leg in a rocket explosion in Iraq in August.



At Walter Reed Army hospital, Pfc. Tristan Wyatt, 21, tries on his titanium and graphite leg for the first time. A rocket severed his limb and those of the two soldiers next to him in Fallujah on Aug. 25. (Alex Quesada/Reuters News Service)
By Esthar Schrader
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The physical therapists on the fifth floor of Walter Reed Army Medical Center have a bulletin board they call their Wall of Heroes.   It is crammed with photos of young soldiers in their care — soldiers wounded in the war in Iraq.
The images of the amputees and burn victims stand out, a tragic irony of an important advance in military protective gear.
The new armored vests that soldiers are wearing in this war protect the human torso and have saved countless lives, but often at a terrible price.   One day last week, all but 20 of the 250 beds at the center were taken up with casualties of the war.   Fifty of them have lost limbs, often more than one.   Dozens more suffer burns and shrapnel wounds that begin where their armored vests ended.   On average, they are 23 years old.
Many would have died except for their Kevlar vests, which stopped rounds from a Kalashnikov rifle, a 9-millimeter handgun or fragments from a grenade.   There have been more wounded — and over a longer period — than the hospital expected.
"We didn't start [the bulletin board] when the war began because we didn't have any idea," said Maj. Mary Hannah, a physical therapist.   "Even the most experienced people here — it is beyond their imagining.   These are our babies.   And they just keep coming, coming, coming."
As the U.S.-led coalition forces battle an increasingly fierce insurgency in Iraq, the military's medical system is waging its own war — and Walter Reed, its premier medical center, is in the thick of it.
The world-renowned teaching and research hospital, which opened in 1909, has treated presidents and senators.   Last week, more than a dozen survivors of the Chinook helicopter shot down by insurgents in Iraq Nov. 2 were carried in on stretchers.   They entered a hospital transformed over the past seven months by the first big wave of combat casualties since the Vietnam War.
Since April, when the first casualties began arriving, more than 1,875 have been treated at Walter Reed, an average of about 10 a day, 300 a month.
"The number is big to me now, bigger than anything I've seen since Vietnam," said Jim Mayer, 57, who lost both legs in that war and now volunteers at the hospital helping amputees.   "When we see each other here, me and the other volunteers, our line to each other is, 'They just keep coming and coming.' "
The grounds at Walter Reed are crammed with recuperating soldiers and their families.   There are so many spouses, parents and children that the more than 600 rooms in guest houses on the hospital grounds are not enough to hold them.   Some are doubling up in single rooms.   Hundreds are staying, at Pentagon expense, in hotels nearby.
At least one mother has finagled a bed down the hall from her son's hospital room.
"I have to," says Joyce Gray, mother of Roy, an Army corporal whose leg was torn open by a mortar round.   "My son has nightmares."
"I don't think this is going to go away," said Army Maj. Gen. Kevin Kiley, an obstetrician and gynecologist by training who is commander of the hospital.   "Our people are pedaling as hard and fast as they can.   We can do this for a long time.   But at some point, if there's no letup, the casualty demand will have to start affecting what Walter Reed is."
In 2002, after the United States went to war in Afghanistan, Congress allocated $13 million to Walter Reed to establish what the hospital calls the Amputee Center of Excellence.   The unit was up and running just in time.   These days, its prosthetics lab is busy scanning stumps of limbs using digital laser technology, then using computerized machines to fashion sockets to fit over them.
Pfc. Tristan Wyatt, 21, tried on his titanium and graphite leg for the first time.   A rocket had severed his limb and those of the two soldiers standing next to him in Fallujah on Aug. 25.
"The rocket went through my leg like a knife through butter," Wyatt said.   "There was just blood and muscle everywhere."
But Wyatt said the sheer numbers of patients like him at Walter Reed, many of them already learning to walk proficiently on their new prostheses, is heartening.
"It's hard to see your comrades hurt, but there are a lot of people here farther down the line with the same injuries," Wyatt said.   "It definitely gives you hope."
© Copyright 2003, The Salt Lake Tribune.
Site of My Lai massacre
The U.S. Government went into the village of My Lai and murdered 504 innocent Vietnamese civilians.
It was a U.S. military operation.
Lt. William Calley was the fall guy.
Another Anniversary of The My Lai Massacre
 
On March 16, 1968, the U.S. Government went into the village of My Lai and murdered 504 innocent Vietnamese civilians.

It was a U.S. military operation.

Lt. William Calley was the fall guy.

Fast forward 39 years and nothing has changed.

Fall guys keep coming out of the woodwork.

Photograph:
 
The monument at My Lai, taken in 1994.

After taking pictures for an hour at the massacre site, especially at the War Crimes Museum, I finally broke down.

Lying Is The Most Powerful Weapon In War.
Mike Hastie 
 
Photo and words: Mike Hastie
Vietnam Veteran
March 16, 2007     

Another Anniversary of The My Lai Massacre
On March 16, 1968, the U.S. Government went into the village of My Lai and murdered 504 innocent Vietnamese civilians.
It was a U.S. military operation.
Lt. William Calley was the fall guy.
Fast forward and nothing has changed.
Fall guys keep coming out of the woodwork.
Photograph:
The monument at My Lai, taken in 1994.
After taking pictures for an hour at the massacre site, especially at the War Crimes Museum, I finally broke down.
Lying Is The Most Powerful Weapon In War.
Mike Hastie
Photo and words: Mike Hastie
Vietnam Veteran
March 16, 2007
The hidden cost of Bush's war
Concern about fatalities among Western forces in Iraq tends to overlook another ghastly statistic: the spectacularly mounting toll of the severely wounded.   Andrew Buncombe reports on America's invisible army of maimed and crippled servicemen
14 November 2003
It has been three months since Sergeant Mike Meinen lost his right leg in Iraq and just two weeks since he received a new one.   He is still getting used to the prosthetic, still adjusting to its feel, the way it looks, the way in which his injury has changed his life for ever.   Remarkably, he refuses to be bitter ­ either about the Iraqi guerrillas who maimed him or about the people in Washington who sent him to war.
"I can't be upset for what has happened.   We went to Iraq for a reason, there were obviously going to be casualties," said 24-year-old Sgt Meinen, father of a five-month-old daughter, Abigail, who was born when he was in Iraq.   "I can't be upset that I was among them... I am proud of what I have done."
Sgt Meinen, of the 43rd Combat Engineer Company, 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, is among thousands of wounded soldiers who have returned from Iraq to uncertain futures, months of difficult and often painful treatment and an American public largely unaware that so many troops are being injured every day.   The reality is that, just as Iraqi hospitals struggled to deal with the number of wounded civilians during the invasion of the country, so military hospitals in the US are now overflowing with wounded Americans.
Advances in body armour and battlefield medicine mean that an increasing number of soldiers such as Sgt Meinen are surviving injuries that even just a decade ago would have killed them.   As a result, while the Bush administration is able to point to a relatively modest number of US fatalities in Iraq ­ yesterday the total stood at 396 ­ there is a huge number of severely wounded soldiers whose injuries and fate go largely unreported.   Mr Bush has ordered that the media should not be allowed to photograph coffins containing the bodies of those killed in Iraq, and the return of injured US troops also goes largely unpublicised.   This is no coincidence.   Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont told the Senate last month: "The wounded are brought back after midnight, making sure the press does not see the planes coming in with the wounded."
But for visitors to the Walter Reed Medical Centre in Washington ­ where Sgt Meinen and two comrades who were injured in the same rocket-propelled grenade attack were treated ­ the wounded are very much on display.   Indeed, at this hospital, which deals with injured soldiers (as opposed to sailors or marines), there is barely room for non-war casualty patients.
Last week all but 20 of the hospital's 250 beds were reportedly taken up with soldiers injured in Iraq, where there are now some 35 attacks on US forces every day.   Fifty soldiers had lost limbs ­ often more than one ­ while dozens of others were being treated for burns or shrapnel wounds.   Others require psychiatric help.   Officials say that 20 per cent of the wounded have suffered "severe brain injuries" while 70 per cent had wounds with the "potential for resulting in brain injury".   About 600 have been dispatched to a specialist burns unit in San Antonio, Texas.
On the fifth floor of Walter Reed, where soldiers such as Sgt Meinen and his comrades Pte Trystan Wyatt and Sgt Erick Castro receive physical therapy, staff have reportedly put up a bulletin board with their patients' photographs.   It is crammed full of pictures of young men.   "We didn't start the board when the war began," Mary Hannah, a therapist, told the Los Angeles Times.   "Even the most experienced people here ­ it's beyond their imagining.   These are our babies and they just keep coming, coming, coming."
The facilities at Walter Reed, the army's main hospital in the US, are so crowded that the 600 or so rooms set aside for families of the injured are apparently insufficient and people are doubling up.   The Pentagon is paying to put up hundreds more at local hotels.
"I don't think this is going to go away," said the hospital's director, Major-General Kevin Kiley.   "Our people are pedalling as hard and fast as they can.   We can do this for a long time but at some point ­ if there is no let-up ­ the casualty demand will have to start affecting what Walter Reed is.   The whole hospital is on a war footing and emotionally involved.   The broader challenge is how do you keep up the battle tempo for a long period of time?"
The first stopping-off point for almost all injured soldiers evacuated from Iraq is the US Regional Medical Centre in Landstuhl, Germany, about 100 miles south-west of Frankfurt.   To date they have treated a total of 7,714 ill and injured troops.   Of these, the Pentagon says 937 had suffered so-called combat injuries, as opposed to non-hostile injuries, though these numbers are disputed by independent experts.   "One is going to get you a Purple Heart [a medal for troops injured in battle] and one is not," said a Pentagon spokesman, explaining the difference.   "One's for wounds inflicted by the enemy.   It could be any type of injury inflicted by someone who wishes to cause you harm."
There are no comparable figures for British combatants.   We know that 52 British servicemen have died in Iraq, 19 of them since "major operations" officially ended on 1 May.   But the Ministry of Defence says that it cannot give any figure for the number of wounded, and none of the defence think-tanks feels able to venture an estimate.   One reason is believed to be the extensive involvement in the war of British special forces ­ the MoD is extremely secretive about the SAS and SBS.
The sick and wounded from Iraq arrive at Ramstein Air Base near Landstuhl on huge transport planes.   Around 30 new patients arrive every day, straining the resources of the hospital, which has had to request additional doctors to boost the medical staff of 1,800.   Apparently the hospital had not been expecting the number of less seriously wounded soldiers it has had to treat ­ for road traffic injuries and ailments such as kidney stones (which were commonplace during a summer in which many troops became dehydrated).
In a recent interview with The New York Times, the hospital's senior officer, Colonel Rhonda Cornum, said the situation in Iraq meant that the demands being placed on the staff and resources at Landstuhl would not go away any time soon.   "You can't work people 60 hours a week for ever," she said.   "People have to take leaves.   They've got to go to school.   You can't run it as a contingency when it has obviously become a steady state."
She added: "This is never going to be a quiet medical centre again.   Our people are proud and privileged to be doing it.   But we don't have any illusion that it's going away."
In addition to the advances in medical treatment, more soldiers are surviving as a result of better equipment.   Most troops in Iraq are equipped with $1,600 (£950) Kevlar vests and $325 helmets.   The vests, the thickly woven material of which is designed to "catch" projectiles, are fitted with ceramic plates that cover the most vulnerable areas.   As a result, most injuries ­ two out of three ­ involve the arms or legs.   Around 100 troops have lost arms, legs, hands or feet in the operation to oust Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq.
While the body armour cannot stop all injuries, the result is that many more troops are surviving than in previous conflicts.   Estimates suggest that during the current war in Iraq the ratio of wounded to dead stands at eight to one.   In the Second World War the ratio was three to one, while even in the 1991 Gulf War the ratio was four to one.   Most deaths occur within half an hour of a soldier being injured, usually as a result of massive blood loss.   Survival rates soar if he or she can be airlifted to a medical centre within an hour of being wounded.
Most of those seriously hurt receive excellent treatment.   Sgt Meinen and his comrades have been fitted with titanium and graphite prosthetics.   Speaking by telephone from his home in Colorado, close to his base at Fort Carson, Sgt Meinen was upbeat.   "It's really nice," he said of the false limb.   "It's better than I thought.   I am doing physical therapy now ­ I say I am on vacation."
Mr Wyatt, who also lost a leg in the same incident in the city of Fallujah on 25 August, has been fitted with a $100,000 prosthetic that attaches to the stump of what was his upper thigh.   The so-called C-leg "understands" when to bend as a result of built-in microprocessors that detect stresses 50 times per second.
"When we first got here I felt I was screwed and thought I would never walk again," said the 21-year-old.   "The rocket went through my leg like a knife through butter.   It was a terrible scene with the three of us... there was just blood and muscle everywhere.   It's hard to see your comrades hurt, but there are a lot of people here farther down the line with the same injuries.   It definitely gives you hope."
Many of the wounded appear optimistic, hopeful that with retraining and treatment they may be able to return to the armed forces and continue their careers in some sort of capacity.   They hope their sacrifice has not been entirely in vain.   But there are increasing numbers of veterans from former wars and relatives of soldiers who fought in Iraq speaking out against the ongoing operation and demanding that the troops be brought home.   They say it suits the Bush administration not to draw attention to the number of wounded and to ignore the effect on the recruitment and retention of troops as well as public opinion.
"The general sense is that it's politically damaging to the Bush administration.   It makes it more difficult for them to continue their policies in Iraq,"said Wilson Powell, director of Veterans for Peace.   "It may be that those policies are changing.   There is a sense that they are trying to accelerate their withdrawal of troops."
Mr Wilson, 71, a veteran of the Korean War, said that for a family, the effect of a relative being wounded could be worse than that of them being killed.   "Post-traumatic stress disorder goes on for decades.   It can affect marriages, relationships with children," he said.   "With a death people can move on, people get on with things.   If they are wounded, you might have someone who is 50 per cent disabled, who has a sense of shame, who is angry or bitter."
Sgt Meinen is not in that position, at least not yet.   For the time being he is focusing on getting better, on learning to use his new limb and enjoying his daughter.   "I love being a father.   She learns so much every day," he said.
Of what happened in Iraq he says he is glad that he and his comrades came home alive.   "I always told them I would take them to the worst places in the world, but that I would always bring them out," he said.   "They believed in me.   All three of us wanted to be there."

©2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.  All rights reserved

Rebuilding Bodies, and Lives, Maimed by War

By NEELA BANERJEE

Published: November 16, 2003

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly was hurt near Baghdad.


Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Specialist Edward Platt was hit by a grenade.



Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Specialist Robert Acosta, who lost his forearm to a grenade, at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.



WASHINGTON,Nov. 10 — Every hour of every day for the last four months, Robert Acosta has thought of the moment when the grenade slipped from his fingers.

In the early evening of July 13, Specialist Acosta, of the Army's First Armored Division, was riding in the passenger seat of a Humvee toward the gates of the Baghdad airport.   Something entered through his window, flew by his face trailing a ribbon of smoke, hit the windshield and landed next to the driver.

Specialist Acosta grabbed the grenade with his right hand, but as he turned to throw it out the window, he dropped it between his legs.   He picked it up again.   Somewhere between his ankles and knees, the grenade exploded in his hand.

"It was gone, it just disintegrated," he said of his hand.   "It was just a mist of blood."

The driver of the Humvee was unhurt.   Not only did the blast destroy Specialist Acosta's hand, it also shattered his legs, the left one nowmended with a steel plate and skin grafts and the hole in his heel almost closed.   In place of his right hand and part of his forearm, he wears a prosthesis that ends in a two-pronged claw.

"I think I should be dead right now," the 20-year-old Specialist Acosta said one recent afternoon, resting from doing pull-ups in physical therapy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.   "But I feel likeI failed myself.   If I hadn't dropped it, I would still have my hand."

Reminded that he had saved his friend's life, Specialist Acosta stared straight ahead and kept silent.  

More than 6,800 have been evacuated from Iraq for medical reasons, including disease and "nonbattle injuries," the Army said.

[By Friday, the Defense Department said, 1,994 had been wounded inaction, with 342 more injured.   The dead totaled 399, with 272 fromhostile action.   At least 18 more soldiers were killed and five wounded in Iraq yesterday.]

Some of the most seriously wounded come through Walter Reed.

Thanks to advances in everything from flak jackets to battlefield medical attention, many soldiers survive attacks that would have killed them a generation ago.   But as more survive, more inevitably return from Iraq with grievous injuries, including amputations.   Already, 58 amputees have been treated at Walter Reed, 47 with major single-limb removals and 11 with multiple-limb amputations.

For all the numbing similarity of the ambushes with rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs that wounded the soldiers now at WalterReed, each has begun to piece his life back together in a different way, into a shape he never expected.

There is Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, a reservist from Abilene, Tex., who is determined to become a firefighter as he had planned.   There is Specialist Edward Platt of Harrisburg, Pa., who focuses his hope and unremitting anger on the use of a prosthetic leg he has just received.   And there is Specialist Acosta of Santa Ana, Calif., who plays practical jokes on hospital staff members yet remains haunted by regret.

When soldiers are ambushed in Iraq, they are rapidly evacuated, their vehicles quickly towed and their plight boiled down into the day's tally of dead and wounded.

"When we get injured, all it says is `one soldier wounded,' " Specialist Acosta said, echoing others at Walter Reed.   "Not that a soldier has lost an arm or a leg, or how hard that is."

The wounded stay at first in the main hospital building at Walter Reed,its Greek revival campus about eight miles north of downtown Washington.   Once the threat of infection and the need for serious surgeries have passed, they go home for several weeks before returning to a hotel on the Walter Reed campus called Mologne House, while continuing rehabilitative therapy at the hospital.

The wounded from Iraq tend to gravitate toward each other and to memorize each other's stories.   They are comforted to find others who knew towns like Hilla, Ramadi and Tikrit and who lost a part of themselves on some identical, stunningly hot Iraqi day.

"I hate this place so much, but all these guys, we form a bond,"Specialist Acosta said.   "Talking to Vietnam vets, that's cool.   But it's not like talking to someone who's been through Iraq."



Copyright 2003   The New York Times Company
Third of Iraqi children now malnourished four years after US invasion
16 March 2007
www.caritas.org
Vatican City — Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Iraq say that malnutrition rates have risen in Iraq from 19 percent before the US-led invasion to a national average of 28 percent four years later.
Caritas says that rising hunger has been caused by high levels of insecurity, collapsed healthcare and other infrastructure, increased polarisation between different sects and tribes, and rising poverty.
Over 11 percent of newborn babies are born underweight in Iraq today, compared with a figure of 4 percent in 2003.
Before March 2003, Iraq already had significant infant mortality due to malnutrition because of the international sanctions regime.
Caritas Iraq has been running a series of Well Baby Clinics throughout the country.
Currently it provides supplementary food for 8000 children up to 8 years and new mothers.
The Caritas clinics help the most vulnerable, and the health crisis they face is much worse than the national average.
Caritas works in an environment of high risk insecurity.
Claudette Habesch, President of Caritas Middle East North Africa works closely with Caritas Iraq:
“Caritas Iraq is working against this difficult background providing vital food to the most vulnerable children and newborn mothers.
Staff face great risks but still managing to provide medical care in a country where the national healthcare system has collapsed in some areas.
“Iraq has the second largest oil supplies in the world, but it has levels of poverty, hunger and underdevelopment comparable to sub-Saharan Africa. “The last four years, but in particular 2006, we have seen life get worse rather than better for the ordinary Iraqi.
“And people are voting with their feet.
“Everyday 5000 people leave Iraq.
“In 2007, one in ten Iraqis is expected to leave the country.
“We are seeing minority groups such as Christians completely disappear from the country or leave their homes for safer areas.
“I have hope for Iraq that things will improve but that is because things can surely get no worse.”
US Police Attack
Person seeking to stop the US war
attacked by police
Washington
Saturday, March, 17 2006

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005
The Invisible Wounded: Injured U.S. Soldiers Arrive Home Under Cover of Darkness

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We speak with journalist Mark Benjamin about the hidden casualties of the Iraq war: wounded U.S. soldiers.  We look at how injured soldiers evacuated to the U.S. never arrive in the light of day as well as how veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome receive inadequate and ineffective psychiatric care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Among the stories that are rarely heard in the corporate media's coverage of Iraq are what some are calling the hidden casualties of war: wounded U.S. soldiers.

We are joined in our DC studio by Mark Benjamin.  As the UPI investigations editor — Mark Benjamin closely covered the stories of wounded American soldiers.

He was awarded the 2004 American Legion's top journalism award for his reporting last Fall on the plight of hundreds of sick and injured soldiers at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Mark Benjamin is now a national correspondent for Salon.Com — where he continues to write about the war wounded.

His latest article is an investigation that reveals government efforts to limit pictures of wounded soldiers returning from Iraq.

The article details how planes carrying the wounded — fly into the U.S only at night.

Mark Benjamin reports that the Pentagon has refused to go on record with an explanation of these nighttime arrivals — even though they deny that there is policy in place.

His other recent article reports on what he says is the inadequate — and ineffective — psychiatric care, provided to soldiers at the Army's top hospital — Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

This report was the result of spending one year following and interviewing wounded soldiers at Walter Reed.




AMY GOODMAN:    Mark Benjamin joins us now from Washington.  Welcome, Mark Benjamin.

MARK BENJAMIN:    Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN:    It’s good to have you with us.  Let's start on this issue of the nighttime flights into the U.S. of wounded soldiers.  How does it work?

MARK BENJAMIN:    Well, the way it works is soldiers are flown out of Iraq on giant gray jet planes called C-141 Starlifters.

They land at the – a large air base in Germany, Ramstein Air Base.  From there, they're taken by bus to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the military's biggest hospital outside of the United States.

From there, they're stabilized for a few days and then they’re flown from Germany into the United States.

Now, all of the wounded that are coming from the war land at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, just out of Washington.

Some of the most severely wounded from there are taken by bus or ambulance from Andrews to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which is in Washington, D.C., or Bethesda Naval Medical Center (that’s for the Marines) that’s just outside of Washington

What is interesting about this whole process is that all of the flights of wounded into the United States are scheduled to land at night.

The wounded are arriving under the cover of darkness.

Also, at least at the two hospitals, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center, photographers and the press are barred from seeing, watching, or taking photos of the wounded arriving.

So, if you take those two facts, the fact that the wounded are only arriving at night at Andrews Air Force Base, and you take the fact that we in the press are not allowed to see them when they go to the two main hospitals here, we have a situation where we're several years into the war now, and we've seen essentially no reporting or no images of these wounded arriving; and to give you just a idea of the scope of this situation, if you take the wounded soldiers and then you add in the number of hurt soldiers that the Pentagon doesn't generally report (in other words, soldiers that are hurt in vehicle accidents and so on) we have 25,000 soldiers who have been flown out of the battlefields, mostly from Iraq, some from Afghanistan.

Most of those come back to the United States — 25,000 — and images or reporting on them arriving in the United States is almost unheard of.

AMY GOODMAN:    Yet you were able to see one of these shipments of wounded soldiers.  Can you describe your experience and how you went about it?

MARK BENJAMIN:    I saw several shipments of these soldiers, actually, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center coming in.  This was without the army's consent.

The army said I was not allowed to see the arrival of soldiers to protect their privacy.  However, I didn't know who these soldiers were, and I even obtained some images of the soldiers arriving, and I just made sure that their identities were not clear in the photos that I obtained.

It's a pretty shocking process, to give you an idea of what it looks like.

One night I was very close to the delivery of wounded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and two soldiers, just as an example — the soldiers arrive, as you can imagine, on stretchers.

They’re unloaded out of these buses.

They’re white buses that stack the wounded in the back on stretchers.

They also arrive in ambulances, sometimes even in unmarked black vans, which is a very strange twist.

One night, for example, I saw two soldiers unloaded from these vans that were apparently intubated, meaning they could not breathe on their own.

They were sort of swollen looking, very young.

I mean, to me they looked like kids, of course, and they — in other words, there's a large machine strapped over the top of their bed and a tube into their mouth.

They looked like they were totally unconscious.

One of them looked like there might have been — could have been blood in a urine bag on the side of the bed.

I mean, these soldiers were in very, very bad shape.

I didn't even know that they could transport people overseas that couldn't even breath on their own.

So we’re talking about very, very seriously wounded people coming into the United States, and we just — we don't see them.

AMY GOODMAN:    You work for U.P.I., which is a newswire and people will see the reports if they actually get published in the newspapers or the networks that subscribe to U.P.I.  How often did your stories get published?

MARK BENJAMIN:    Well, they — I mean, relatively frequently.  It would depend on the story.  Of course, now I'm working at Salon, so anybody can go to Salon and read my stories there.  They're getting a lot more exposure.

If what you’re getting at is: Has there been a lot of coverage of these issues, or has there been a lot of pickup on these stories?

Not as much as I would have liked.

AMY GOODMAN:    We're talking to Mark Benjamin, who has written a series of pieces on wounded soldiers, one called "Behind the Walls of Ward 54."

It begins, “Before he hanged himself with his bathrobe sash in the psychiatric ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  Specialist Alexis Soto-Ramirez complained to friends about his medical treatment.

He had been flown out of Iraq five months before.”

Can you tell us about Alexis and also about Ward 54?

MARK BENJAMIN:    Well, Soto-Ramirez was a soldier who had served in Iraq and, like a really unknown number of thousands of soldiers, appeared to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD is what they call it, that were what the doctors call it.

And it’s an incredibly – it can be an incredibly debilitating mental trauma from the war.

They used to call it shell shock after World War I, for example.

And Soto-Ramirez was in what they call Ward 54, which is the lockdown psychiatric ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, so this is the army's top medical facility.

And I'd found two soldiers who were visiting him in Ward 54.

(I've been in there myself, by the way.

It's a pretty stunning experience.)

And these two soldiers, who I interviewed separately, both had the same account, which was that Alexis Soto-Ramirez was extremely concerned about what he said was a lack of care for his body and for his mind; and what eventually happened after about three weeks of staying in Ward 54, which is again a very secure psychiatric ward at the army's top medical facility, where essentially you’re on 24-hour suicide watch, he still was able to hang himself.

Apparently with his bathrobe and — with the sash on his bathrobe.

And what was most stunning to me about Soto-Ramirez's death is that his experience, not necessarily the suicide, but his concern about his treatment seems to be very widespread at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

And so what I found over a year — I tracked 14 soldiers, not all of them for a year, but some of them — what I found was that at Walter Reed there’s an interesting thing going on, and this seems to be the case at other military facilities.

Soldiers from this war who suffer acute wounds, amputees, head injuries, bullet wounds, you know, people that are blown up by roadside bombs, get excellent, excellent medical care, or that's what they report to me.

They get off those battlefields very, very quickly.

They’re bought back to Walter Reed.

You’ll see them — you will see their good news stories on TV where reporters are allowed to see them rehabilitating there at Walter Reed.

What is interesting about that is that soldiers who are hurt in their mind, soldiers who have debilitating, really scary post-traumatic stress disorder — we’re talking about people that are acutely homicidal, acutely suicidal after what they've seen or had to do in Iraq — their treatment, the way they describe their treatment at Walter Reed is extremely substandard.

They don't get the kind of therapy they deserve.

They don't get one-on-one therapy.

They don't – they’re treated by not even doctors, they're medical students, and the entire time that they are at Walter Reed, the army seems to be more bent on trying to determine that their problems were not, in fact, caused by the war and that, in fact, these soldiers were just crazy of their own accord.

The reason why, the soldiers say, is because if the army can make a determination that a soldier's problems are not caused by combat, then the army or the Pentagon does not have to pay, in other words have to pay medical care for those people or money to those people, remuneration to those people for the rest of their lives.

In other words, it looks like it could be a money saving maneuver, sadly.

AMY GOODMAN:    And you write about Soto-Ramirez saying that when he came back with his unit of the Puerto Rico National Guard and he was assessed by a doctor, the doctor said, “Clearly the psychiatric symptoms are combat-related and he just needs good care,” when he sent him up to Walter Reed.

MARK BENJAMIN:    That's correct.  And, unfortunately, of course, he ended up killing himself.

There was — of the 14 soldiers that I tracked over one year, two of them I know or said reported suicide attempts over that year.

Of the 14 soldiers that I tracked, all of them rated — after being at Walter Reed for usually at the very least months — said they were either the same or worse off psychologically after getting what Walter Reed calls treatment there, which I do not think was an encouraging trend.

And of the soldiers that were put out of the army and handed off to the veterans’ — Department of Veterans' Affairs, which is, of course, separate from the Pentagon, those soldiers were found – the army found that their problems were not related to combat.

In other words, the army found that they had other problems, preexisting conditions, in most cases, anyway, which is a disturbing trend because these are people that the army found fit for service.

The army seemed to think they were psychologically in good enough shape to go to war and later on seemed to find out that their problems were their own.

AMY GOODMAN:    Mark Benjamin, I want to thank you very much for joining us.

Mark Benjamin's pieces can be found at Salon.com.

He won the top awards from the American Legion for his reporting on U.S. soldiers wounded and sick and how they're treated in this country.



Unspeakable grief and horror
                        ...and the circus of deception continues...
Most recent 'Circus'    click here
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Circus of Torture   2003 — now
He says, "You are quite mad, Kewe"
And of course I am.
Why, I don't believe any of it — not the bloody body, not the bloody mind, not even the bloody Universe, or is it bloody multiverse.
"It's all illusion," I say.   "Don't you know, my lad, my lassie.   The game!   The game, me girl, me boy!   Takes on interest, don't you know.   T'is me sport, till doest find a better!"
Pssssst — but all this stuff is happening down here
Let's change it!
 
 
       Afghanistan — Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy       
       Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO     

 
 
 
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