Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Horror

Der Spiegel reports from Landstuhl Military Hospital. Read the entire article. This is what Cheney and Bush are doing to our service personnel:
Eight thousand soldiers and military personnel have been treated for "combat injuries" at this hospital in Landstuhl's Kirchberg section since the Iraq war began in March 2003. This is the official number. But the real figure is probably higher, partly because the statistic does not reflect patients who have suffered emotional trauma or heart attacks in the war zone -- not even when the victims are young men. But numbers are the tools of politicians. Whether the number of the war wounded comes to 8,000 or 10,000 makes little difference to the day-to-day operations of this hospital not far from Germany's border with France. The staff members at Landstuhl are satisfied if they can survive a single day's work more or less intact....

Married couples are admitted who were wounded together. Brothers have been admitted, one to die and the other to become so despondent that he loses his will to live. In one case, a woman was flown in to say goodbye to her dying husband, only to learn of the death of her own mother at his bedside. Landstuhl says a lot about war and little about peace.
And this, from Lieutenant Colonel Gary Southwell, one of the hospital's psychiatrists, who recently returned after a year in Iraq:
"Thoughts of suicide in an environment where everyone carries a gun are serious right from the start," he points out. According to the research, says Southwell, 18 to 20 percent of all soldiers develop post-traumatic symptoms while deployed in war zones. Once they are back home, they withdraw from the civilian war because they are unable to get the war out of their heads. To them, the popping of champagne corks can sound like gunshots and the slamming of doors can seem life-threatening. A package on the side of road can cause them to react by turning their cars around at full speed. All suffer from "combat stress," but it's part of being a soldier. "But the good thing," says Southwell, "is that we know these things now. In Vietnam and in earlier wars, no one even asked these questions." He says that he too found it difficult to return from war. "My wife and I spent a year living like single people. Now we have to find our way back into our marriage. It's difficult. It takes work."

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