Sunday, May 25, 2008
Memorial Day, 2008
Memorial Day is about honoring those who have sacrificed themselves for the nation, in our armed forces. We cannot honor them properly unless we know the full extent of their sacrifice.
We have to count the victims of Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome, what we used to call being shell-shocked, as victims of the war. The number of those victims has been covered up.
Investigative reporters at CBS News found that in 2005, 6,250 veterans took their lives, nearly 18 a day. Emanuel Margolis writes,
Have 30,000 veterans died of suicide in the past 5 years? Have 60,000 tried to? Shouldn't these deeply depressed men and women be added to the casualty tolls? Is war a plague on the mind of those who fight it?
' • 120 veterans commit suicide every week.
• 1,000 veterans attempt suicide while in VA care every month.
• Nearly one in five service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (approximately 300,000) have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms or major depression.
• 19 percent of post-Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with possible traumatic brain injury, according to a Rand Corp. Study in April.
• A higher percentage of these veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than from any previous war because of "stop loss" or an involuntary extension of service in the military (58,300), multiple tours, greater prevalence of brain injuries, etc. '
19 percent of returning vets from Iraq and Afghanistan would also be nearly 300,000 persons, suffering from traumatic brain injury.
Wounded vets often face quality of life issues for the long term.
Others face profound moral dilemmas growing out of a conviction that they have been ordered to commit atrocities. The warping of the moral being may not be an inevitability of war but it is a severe risk.
We aren't told the scale of the sacrifice by our corporate media or Washington officials. Michael Munk has done a fine job of focusing in like a laser on the real numbers of casualties for the Iraq War. Here is the last dispatch I have from him, dated May 6, 2008:
'US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered at least 108 combat casualties in the week ending May 6, as the official casualty total reached at least 65,500. The total includes 33,325 dead and wounded by what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and 32,175 (since over a month ago on March 1) dead and injured from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 85,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the approximately 20,000 casualties discovered only after they returned from Iraq -mainly brain trauma from explosions.**
In addition, a rare report showed that 1,123 "US civilian contractors" has been killed since the invasion, including a record 353 in 2007. No numbers are available on the wounded and injured, nor about casualties among the "contractors" who are not US citizens. (Houston Post, Feb. 9, 2008.)
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