...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, October 23, 2003
      ( 4:44 PM )
What? You Mean People Are Getting Hurt In Iraq?

This news popped up on the wire today - "Press Underreports Wounded in Iraq." Until now, the press has been almost completely silent on the subject of the thousands of soldiers wounded in Iraq. Interestingly, at the end of the second week of the White House's push for "GOOD NEWS!!" instead of casualty figures, this story is broaching a subject that should have had a clear airing long ago.

Few newspapers routinely report injuries in
Iraq, beyond references to specific incidents.
Since the war began in March, 1,927 soldiers
have been wounded in Iraq, many quite
severely. (The tally is current as of Oct. 20.)
Of this number, 1,590 were wounded in hostile
action, and 337 from other causes. About 20%
of the injured in Iraq have suffered severe
brain injuries, and as many as 70% "had the
potential for resulting in brain injury," according
to an Oct. 16 article in The Boston Globe.

And to add to that horrifying statistic:

A United Press International investigation,
published Oct. 20, revealed that many
wounded veterans from Iraq, under care at
places such as the Fort Stewart military
base in Georgia, must wait "weeks and
months for proper medical help" and are
being kept in living conditions that are
"unacceptable for sick and injured soldiers."
One officer was quoted as saying, "They're
being treated like dogs." The Army has said
it is attempting to remedy the situation.

This is despicable. The fact that there are thousands of men and women being medically evacuated from Iraq is important, even if just from the mere point that we have so few troops really left. The reality is sobering:

According to an Oct. 3 report by UPI,
nearly 4,000 soldiers had been medically
evacuated from Iraq for non-combat reasons.

That's on top of the 2,000 wounded in combat since March. That's 6,000 people.

I don't think the White House PR program is working so far. If I'm correct, it seems to have had the opposite effect it was intending: News outlets are now looking for and investigating news stories about the realities of the war. This must keep up. The press never should have so easily bowed to the propaganda machine of this administration. And it will only be public pressure and outcry that will bring this government either to its senses or kick it out the door. We cannot continue to laud the "good news that's not being reported" in Iraq when we're not hearing about the truth in the first place.

The truth is, it does matter how many are dying and how many are being evacuated, even if not for combat reasons. Sure, combat deaths and injuries are a way to keep tallies. But really, are we still that dependent on casualty numbers to prove our point? I thought we got over that 30 years ago. Then again...this administration seems mired in the past. More of the truth:

As for the tally of total deaths in Iraq, most
of the media continues to only cite those killed
in hostile action. On Oct. 20, for example, The
New York Times reported: "Since President
Bush declared an end to major hostilities in
Iraq on May 1, 106 American soldiers
have been killed." But this number represents
only those killed in combat by hostile fire. A
total of 200 American troops have been killed in
this time period from all causes, such as vehicle
accidents, drowning, and suicides, a figure that
is rarely mentioned in the press.

The number doubles when we see the truth. The fact is, these soldiers were in a combat arena, they were on combat duty. Whether they died by the bullet of an enemy or because their jeep flipped over and killed them or they drowned or they simply could not bear it any longer and took their own lives - they still died serving our country. Aren't they good enough to recognize too? I think so. It's time we started demanding the true figures about what is happening in Iraq, and it's time we started determining truthfully whether it's worth the cost our men and women and their families are paying.

If you didn't already know, Lunaville has the best sources for these figures.

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