Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Wounded Warriors Return from Afghanistan

A sobering article in the Post today about returning wounded soldiers from Afghanistan. It says in part:

Still, military health-care experts say those wounded in battle are coming home more severely injured than at any time since 2006, a sobering sign of the strength of the insurgency at the twilight of the war. Many of the injured arrive on the medical evacuation flights that land twice a week at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland physically intact but mentally wrecked, struggling with the demons of multiple deployments over the past decade.

Their caretakers, part of a massive wartime medical evacuation system that is being wound down, have a rare and often grim vantage on the final chapter of the Afghan war — a conflict that is increasingly being endured, rather than fought, largely out of sight.

I’ve been saying this for a long time. Outside of the military you would never know that we’ve been involved in two major wars in the past decade. There are the tributes from time to time honoring military service. What comes to mind is the tributes at sporting events. At ever Nationals game there is a moment when returning veterans and their families are honored. Everyone stands up and applauds. And by the time people sit down, the veterans are more or less forgotten.

More from the article:

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a former Air Force pilot who flew intelligence and medevac missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think there is a sense in the military that Americans are not paying attention anymore,” he had told a reporter a few weeks earlier, shortly after returning from a visit to Kabul. “I think they’re right, to be honest. There is a sense that it’s over, but it’s not.”

That’s the problem that I see too. Out of sight out of mind. People didn’t like either war. But the wars impacted very few people outside of the military. Once they began winding down and the coverage dropped out of the news, people just forgot about them. I think people are surprised that people are still being killed and wounded over there.

Returning soldiers are having a tough time transitioning to civil life (there was an article in the Post about soldiers coming home from the wars and having to struggle to get a job). For those who have been wounded it is even more difficult. They deserve more from us than a round of applause at a baseball game.

1 comment:

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