I was out and about yesterday, but my belated Memorial Day memorial is to say, as I did last year, “On this day when we remember our war dead, it’s worth looking back at the when and the how of the … US military fatalities in Iraq.” Then it was 3455 dead, now we’re up to 4083 American soldiers dead, with a total of 4394 fallen coalition soldiers.
The count at icasualties.org has us on the verge of 30,000 wounded US soldiers, a sum which does not include subtle psychological errors, or wounds too minor to require evacuation. This is a shocking and devastating sum. As has been noted before, improvements in armor and tactics have allowed more soldiers to survive attacks which previously would have been fatal in past wars. This is marvelous, but our system for supporting veterans – the hospitals, counseling, etc. – have not kept pace. Passing a 21st century GI Bill is a good first step toward modernizing the way we treat veterans, but hardly the last step. More soldiers survive battle these days, and it falls to those of us on whose behalf they fight to ensure that the soldiers are able to heal in body, mind and soul.