Monday, February 2, 2009

...So They Can Get Back in the Game

It is not enough that we send them into battle to be killed, maimed, turned into the walking dead emotionally or worse into a walking time bomb of emotionality.

It is not enough that the Army suicide rate has now reached a 27-year high.
  • According to preliminary military data released by the Associated Press, at least 128 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2008, compared to 115 in 2007. These numbers do not include suicides among veterans, for whom suicide is a growing problem. According to the VA records from 2002 to 2006, at least 254 Iraq and Afghanistan-era veterans have killed themselves.

It now turns out we are destroying their bodies even if they are never wounded.
  • Carrying heavy combat loads is taking a quiet but serious toll on troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • "You can't hump a rucksack at 8,000 to 11,000 feet for 15 months, even at a young age, and not have that have an impact on your body..." (Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army''s vice chief of staff)
  • Individual Marine combat loads -- including protective gear, weapons, ammunition, water, food and communications gear -- range from 97 to 135 pounds.
  • In Afghanistan, soldiers routinely carry loads of 130 to 150 pounds for three-day missions.
  • Carroll W. McInroe, a former VA primary-care case manager in Washington state, said he has seen such injuries in hundreds of veterans from today's wars. "Our infantry should not be going into battle carrying 90 to 100 pounds on their backs," he said. "The human muscular-skeletal system is simply not designed for that much weight, and it will break down over time."
And as you read clear to the very last line: "We refer to soldiers as tactical athletes. You want to help take care of them early so they can get back in the game." (Lt. Col Nikki Butler, a senior Army rehabilitation specialist)

Now, I realize that the armed forces look on life in a different way from the rest of us. BUT we had better worry when they start to refer to war as a "game."

Am I the only one appalled here?

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