Tuesday, December 26, 2006
The War Rages On
It hasn't been a "Merry Christmas" for everyone. I was just in contact with a friend who is TDY (temporary duty) deployed to Landstuhl, Germany. He is a ICU doc doing the same painful duty my husband was doing this past July/August, working to save the blown-up soldiers coming from Iraq and Afghanistan. Every rotation there has a sameness; the horrific carnage of young men with debilitating injuries trying to hold on to life with only the individual difference being ultimate outcome.
Our friend, Doc D., has been at the largest military hospital in Europe for 12 days. Landstuhl is the first stop for critical care patients. Doctor D's first days were somewhat "quiet", he had few patients and none on the way from the battle zone. A few days ago the action began to pick-up. The previous lull in patient traffic on its face seems a good thing but when viewed in the context of what have been called "ingenious tactics", "changing conditions on the ground which foment sectarian violence" by the military talking heads and the administration, then add to that the increase of ferocity and frequency of attacks on virtually everybody in Iraq, and the paucity of injured coming to Landstuhl really means one thing--they didn't make it to Germany, they died in Iraq. Every day that goes by fewer are making it out alive.
The incoming our friend sees bare all the same injuries that this illegal war has been churning out from day one: multiple amputations, severe internal injuries, massive head trauma, paralysis, and a multitude of other injuries no young person should ever have inflicted upon them. What changed for Doc D. on Christmas day
was his next three patients. He lost a young soldier with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, a double leg amputee and a young man with most of his internal organs turned into hash. Suicide rates among active duty military are up 200%* and are not included as part of the 'official' casualty count. How many more have to die before people stand up and say "Enough!"?
So while we enjoyed our big dinners, present-opening, wine and song, Our friend was unsuccessfully battling to save wasted young lives, while 140,000 other American soldiers and virtually all Iraqis continue to be at risk. A risk that according to reports, increases daily. Meanwhile, according to the commander-in-chief, we should all go shopping. It makes me wonder what the fuck has to happen in order for the American people to demand action and end the war in Iraq.
Even more heartbreaking, our soldiers no longer want to be in Iraq 'defending' who know which side in a civil war for their 3rd, 4th and 5th deployments under increasingly dangerous conditions. And that doesn't include the proposed "surge" for which there are no new troops , only re-re-re-deployments. To read the perspective of a soldier-on-the-ground, check out former CIA agent Larry Johnson's blog "No Quarter". He has a post up from a someone constantly in harm's way.
A young soldier prepares for his third tour in Iraq
* According to the Department of Defense MSMR (Medical Surviellence Monthly Report) October, 2006