|10-15-2003, 07:44 PM||#1|
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Outside it's Amerika
Local Time: 07:55 AM
I really don't care if anyone wants to respond, but in many other threads the wounded were mentioned. Their numbers astronomically outweigh the dead, but seem off the radar.__________________
This is really a tribute to them. Agree as you like, but I'm very concerned that they seem invisible.
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
War's bloody fallout
By PATRICE O'SHAUGHNESSY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, October 12th, 2003
Late last June, almost two months after the end of "major combat" in Iraq, Army Reserve Sgt. Rafael Vasquez, a city cop and nurse from Washington Heights, arrived at base camp Anaconda southwest of Baghdad.
Other Army medics welcomed his unit to the base, inviting them to a movie in a tent converted to a minitheater, but Vasquez's unit was too tired after the long convoy from Kuwait.
"Three mortar rounds found their way into the perimeter and into the movie tent," Vasquez recounted last week by E-mail from Iraq. "When I entered the trauma tent there they were, the same guys who invited us to the movie. Lying in blood and uniforms shredded from shrapnel. Nine out of the 20-men unit were seriously injured. We treated the wounds as best as we could and medivaced out the rest of the injured.
"That night I realized how quickly a life could end out here. A simple decision could make the difference between life and death. This was the type of environment we are in."
The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq mounts incrementally each day, rising to 315 and bringing sorrow to families halfway around the world.
But in a devastation that has gone almost unnoticed, nearly 2,000 G.I.s, Marines, Navy and Air Force members have been wounded in the war.
Many have lost limbs, suffered severe head trauma and shrapnel wounds in combat, vehicle accidents and other mishaps. Additionally, more than 3,000 soldiers have left Iraq with illness or psychiatric problems.
Like a shotgun
Many soldiers wear ceramic body armor — the vests are nicknamed chicken plates — that can stop a bullet from an AK-47 rifle. But it only goes so far.
"The wounds we see here are much more severe than what I've seen at home," said Army Sgt. Albert Gasbarra, working in Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad with the 28th Combat Support Hospital out of Fort Bragg, N.C. A former paramedic for an ambulance corps in New York City, he has seen his share of gunshot wounds.
"Here, it's not unusual to see multiple gunshot wounds," Gasbarra said via E-mail. "They seem to be getting meaner and meaner. At first it was gunshot wounds, then it was RPG's [rocket-propelled grenades] and now it's IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. These things can range in size from a Coke can to a medium size box and even a watermelon. To me, the wounds from these things closely resemble a shotgun wound. Happily, the majority of these guys recover, so I guess it's a debilitating weapon rather than a killing one. Although that's happened too, unfortunately."
The route the wounded take begins in the field with Forward Surgical Teams, whose high-tech care in war zones have improved survival rates.
Vasquez is a critical care nurse in the 1st Forward Surgical Team out of Fort Totten, Queens.
"We can set up in one hour anywhere the action is and take as many patients as need be," he said. "We have an emergency room, an operating room and an intensive-care unit. All of this within two tents. We travel in six Humvees with enough supplies to last three days."
As a cop, he experienced the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on New York. Now he treats prisoner-of-war patients "who were happy the trade center collapsed," he said. Ibn Sina, a bullet-riddled, bland building, was an elite hospital during Saddam Hussein's regime. The dictator's son Uday was treated there after an assassination attempt.
1st Lt. Christopher Vanfosson, also a member of the 28th Combat Support Hospital, has been there for six months, through 130-degree heat, caring for soldiers with shrapnel injuries to the eyes, arms, face, chest and legs.
"Usually, the shrapnel is removed surgically, and the wound is cleaned out prior to [the soldier] being evacuated," he said. "If bones are broken, the unstable fractures are fixed and then evacuated as soon as possible."
He said diseases have run the gamut from pneumonia to appendicitis and viral illness.
Aside from hundreds of Americans, his unit has cared for nearly 1,000 Iraqis, both POWs and citizens.
The wounded soldiers are then medivaced to Kuwait, then to military hospitals in Germany or Spain. From there, Army and Air Force personnel go to the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, and sailors and Marines go to the Bethesda, Md., Naval Medical Center.
Walter Reed has treated more than 1,400 patients. Ward 57 at the hospital has become a popular stop for celebrities and veterans' advocates. Its most famous patient was Pvt. Jessica Lynch but scores of young soldiers have had arms or legs amputated and replaced by prosthetic limbs there.
Vanfosson said the soldiers' spirits seem high but many are frustrated.
"They know that we have entered Iraq to bring freedom to this country and its people," he said. "It's hard for soldiers to understand why someone would want to shoot at or bomb the very people who are setting them free. But they love their buddies and they have a job to do, so those very soldiers injured and bound for the states anxiously try to return to their units to complete their mission."
I've read many other stories since the war started. I just wanted to bring them into your prayers and into consideration.
|10-15-2003, 08:39 PM||#2|
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Join Date: Oct 2001
Local Time: 11:55 AM
"Their numbers astronomically outweigh the dead, but seem off the radar."__________________
Historically on average since World War II, numbers of wounded outnumber deaths by a ratio of more than 5 to 1 in wars.
|10-22-2003, 09:03 AM||#3|
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Outside it's Amerika
Local Time: 07:55 AM
The Pentagon's Achilles Heel
By Steven Rosenfeld, TomPaine.com
October 22, 2003
This past weekend, United Press International's Mark Benjamin – assisted by Steven Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center, a veteran's advocacy group – broke the story that hundreds of injured Iraq War veterans were stranded in dismal barracks at Ft. Stewart, Ga., while they were awaiting medical care.
"They're being treated like dogs," is how one officer who didn't want his name used put it, speaking to TomPaine.com before the UPI story broke. "There is not a smile on this sector of the post. I have never seen as many sad people in one place in all my life."
The situation described by this officer and by UPI was one where injured National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers were languishing while waiting for military doctors to fully diagnose their injuries and do the paperwork for future medical benefits. The veterans – some with injuries that will become lifelong disabilities – were living in large barracks with double bunk beds and no indoor plumbing. Soldiers who paid $10 day could get a smaller, shared room with air conditioning and a bathroom.
"I've been in [the military] for 30 ? years and never thought the Army would turn on its own like this," said First Sgt. Gerry Mosley, of the National Guard's 296th Transportation Company from Brookhaven, Miss. "I am not in a case by myself. They are telling you it's going to be four to six months if you're going through a medical evaluation."
The account given by Mosley and other soldiers at Ft. Stewart is at odds with the support-the-troops rhetoric from top Pentagon and White House officials. Yet it's part of a pattern of lapses in military health policies that have occurred during the course of the Iraq War.
In recent weeks, two separate congressional investigations by the General Accounting Office (GAO-04-158T and GAO-03-1171T) concluded the Army and Air Force largely ignored a 1997 law requiring all soldiers sent to war zones be given extensive pre- and post-deployment medical exams – to avoid the unexplained medical problems that arose after the 1991 Persian Gulf War that became known as "Gulf War Syndrome."
Moreover, the months-long delays in getting medical care faced by the soldiers at Ft. Stewart are nearly identical to the delays faced by veterans of other wars as they seek care in the Veterans Administration health system. Fully funding the VA is a top priority of veterans' groups, who say the 2004 VA budget pending before Congress is under-funded by $1.8 billion.
"This is about what the administration says versus what they do," said Robinson, who is executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center.
But following the publication of UPI's story on Friday, Oct. 17, Mosley said the senior officers at Ft. Stewart met with the soldiers quoted in the news account and then started making basic improvements to the living conditions. Over the weekend, partitions were put between toilets and bunk beds, he said. Mosley also was told more doctors will be brought in.
Robinson, who repeated the story on CNN on Monday, Oct. 20, is bringing congressional investigators to Ft. Stewart on Tuesday, Oct. 21.
The Bigger Picture
Whether the situation at Ft. Stewart is the norm or an anomaly at military bases housing soldiers injured in Iraq is not known. The Pentagon has not commented. Ft. Stewart is only one base where injured troops from Iraq have been sent, according to soldiers and veterans' activists contacted.
It's also hard to determine how many soldiers have been injured in Iraq because, again, the Pentagon has not fully disclosed those numbers. Another UPI report, on Oct. 3, said nearly 4,000 soldiers had been medically evacuated from Iraq for non-combat reasons, quoting the Army Surgeon General's office. Those numbers have not been updated.
Some soldiers say the military has been downplaying these statistics. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of Miami, who was back in the states during the recent two-week furlough, said the military was short of manpower in Iraq and wasn't always sending injured troops to Kuwait or back to the states for medical care.
That was one factor contributing to low morale of troops in Iraq, he said, a trend that was confirmed in a mid-October poll conducted by Stars and Stripes, a government-published military newspaper.
Meanwhile, soldiers like Sgt. Mosley have been languishing at Ft. Stewart since last spring. Mosley, 48, served in the Army for three years and has been in the reserves for 27 years. He said he was injured when he jumped off a truck that came under Iraqi attack in the first hours of the war. He kept going and was further hurt after diving into a foxhole to avoid more Iraqi fire.
Before the war, Mosley said he could run two miles in 17 minutes. Today, he said he can barely walk or sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time. He got to Ft. Stewart on May 26 and was put in what's called "medical hold."
At first, he lived in a large cement barracks with no air conditioning, where he and 50 other injured soldiers slept in bunk beds. He said he's been paying $10 a day for an air-conditioned room he shares with two other men.
Mosley said his medical issues were still unresolved. He said he has waited for weeks to see specialists and doctors, but their diagnoses and resulting treatments have not helped. Mosley also said he's been pressured to sign papers to confirm those diagnoses, which could limit his future veteran's benefits. Mosley said he refused to do so.
Worse yet, Mosley said soldiers like him – from the National Guard and Army Reserves – weren't getting the same attention or treatment as soldiers from the fulltime active-duty military. He finds that double standard galling.
"When the Iraqis started coming in on us, when the bullets started flying, they didn't say I didn't mean to fire on you – you're a reservist," he said. "We're being treated so differently from the active duty troops, it's not funny."
Mosley's story isn't unique. Sgt. Willie Buckles, with 28 years of service, was injured in the same Iraqi mortar attack as Mosley. "I came back on the fifth of May. I still don't know what my pain is," he said.
But Buckles has a good idea why he hasn't gotten the care he needs. "I don't believe they planned for it," he said. "They don't have enough doctors and facilities to take care of them." Buckles believes the Pentagon didn't plan for extensive casualties in Iraq. On the other hand, the Pentagon ignored the one law Congress passed after the military's mishandling of Gulf War Syndrome: a 1997 order (PL105-85) requiring detailed medical records for every soldier sent to war.
Two recent reports by Congress' General Accounting Office concluded the Army and Air Force didn't do that before the Iraq war. Several congressional staffers who work on the issue said they still don't know if the Pentagon was complying with medical records law, even as tens of thousands of new National Guard troops are being sent to Iraq.
Last spring, after coming under congressional criticism for not following the 1997 law, the Pentagon's point man on the issue, Under-Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs William Winkenwerder, announced the Pentagon would expand the questionnaire used by the military for post-deployment screening.
What's also notable about the lengthy delays faced by soldiers at Ft. Stewart is that they are approximately the same length as those faced by veterans of other wars in the VA health system. While the injured soldiers at Ft. Stewart are not yet in the VA system, veteran advocates note that the VA has been under-funded for years by the current administration, including its 2004 budget now before Congress.
"You used us. Now don't abuse us," was how Woody Powell of Veterans for Peace put it, summing up the attitude of veterans seeking better government health care.
Steven Rosenfeld is a senior editor for TomPaine.com.
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