United States soldiers are coming back with horrific brain and mental injuries
|Bush cuts funds for treating brain damage on soldiers|
Brain injury therapy being underfunded
..the Bush administration has recently completely zeroed out funding for the Federal TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury] Act, which provides exactly this kind of help
March 24 2005: Some troops still waiting for Body armor, armored vehicles
Brain injury top wound in Iraq
From the military's own site:
Among 105 casualties assessed between June and October, doctors discovered about two-thirds, or 67 percent, to have brain injuries
Sent home from Iraq with a terminal brain disease in mid- 2003, Sgt. Alford, 25, was expected to die before Christmas of last year. But monthly injections in his brain of an experimental drug are keeping him alive, without improving his condition.
The decorated Green Beret soldier is in a vegetative state because of the ravages of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, a degenerative brain disorder similar to mad cow disease. But now that he has outlived his prognosis, his wife and parents are battling the latest of several bureaucratic disputes with the Army, which wants to retire him.
"He is entitled to die as a soldier," said John Alford, the soldier's father. "Why can't they leave the boy alone and let him have his dignity?"
Army officials say it is simply a matter of regulation – Sgt. Alford is not medically capable of returning to active duty, and regulations say he should be granted a medical discharge... Mr. Alford said this is not a financial dispute. "My son would actually be better off financially with retirement," he said. "But this is not about money. He should be allowed to die a soldier...
"It's like he's not dying fast enough to suit them," said the Alfords' attorney, Mike C. Miller of Marshall. U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin, D-Marshall, has intervened The Alfords believe their son's illness was caused by eating sheep's brains while he was serving in Oman. Medical experts say they don't know the cause
It's a type of injury some military doctors say has become the signature wound of the Iraq war. Known as traumatic brain injury, or TBI, the wound is of the sort that many soldiers in previous wars never lived long enough to suffer. The explosions often cause brain damage similar to "shaken-baby syndrome," says Warren Lux, a neurologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
The injury is often hard to recognize -- for doctors, for families and for the troops themselves. Months after being hurt, many soldiers may look fully recovered, but their brain functions remain labored. "They struggle much more than you think just from talking to them, so there is that sort of hidden quality to it," Lux says.
To identify cases of TBI, doctors at Walter Reed screened every arriving servicemember wounded in an explosion, along with those hurt in Iraq or Afghanistan in a vehicle accident or fall, or by a gunshot wound to the face, neck or head. They found TBI in about 60% of the cases. The largest group was 21-year-olds
USATODAY.com - Iraq war's legacy: Brain trauma
TWO YEARS AGO Brain injury already topped the charts In 2003 the Washington Post reported, 62 percent of soldiers examined at Walter Reed between August and December suffered brain injuries in combat. Yet Bush and his brother never noticed..
10/2003 - More than nine months [after his head wound], his visible scars have healed but Rich suffers the enduring effects of brain trauma: His vision has only half returned, and he experiences mood swings and bouts of depression.
Rich's experience is not uncommon for US troops. According to military officials, roughly 20 percent of the wounds suffered by the troops in Iraq have been severe brain injuries. And Major General Kevin C. Kiley, commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, said that figure does not even take into account milder neural injuries. He estimated that as many as 70 percent of the wounds suffered by US forces in Iraq had the potential for resulting in brain injury.
By 2003 the Arny already knew
Same for 2004 Online NewsHour: U.S. Soldiers Return from Iraq With Serious Brain Injuries -- July 16, 2004
TWO YEARS later, troops still short on armor
March 24, 2005 - Four soldiers injured in the line of duty are the first from Nebraska to come under attack by insurgents in Iraq, and it has raised questions about the protections soldiers have.
One Nebraska National Guard soldier is recovering after an ambush Sunday south of Baghdad. Three others are back with their unit after being treated for minor injuries.
The unit is the Columbus-based 1075th Transportation Company. The wife of one of those soldiers believes they need better protection.
"There were injuries, but God was with them. He kept them safe," said Faye Rullo, whose husband, Paul, was part of the convoy that was attacked.
She said the soldiers need more than prayers. Rullo said her husband tells her the quarter-inch armor they use now doesn't protect the entire truck. Since they travel a road near the infamous "Sunni Triangle," they need the whole cab of their vehicles surrounded by armor.
"The government has said they have the armor -- they don't have," Rullo said. "And I know they are not the only company that doesn't have it."
3/24/2005 -(AP) Sen. Susan Collins said Thursday that she is largely satisfied with the Army's effort to provide armor for Humvees in Iraq, but that more needs to be done to ensure that trucks and other vehicles have protection as well.
Collins said in an interview with The Associated Press that she was frustrated by what she saw as the Defense Department's lack of planning and slow response to concerns about the lack of protective armor for vehicles and soldiers in Iraq.
Collins said she is encouraged by Army Gen. George Casey's order that soldiers in Iraq not leave their compounds unless they are in a Humvee with armor plates. But there are still heavy trucks and equipment that lack the same protection, she said.
''We need to up-armor not only Humvees, but also trucks and other vehicles,'' she said. ''And I believe it's still lacking.''
Collins, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has made armor protection in Iraq a top priority for more than a year. She said military officials repeatedly told her they had the situation under control, but that she would continue to hear from soldiers on the front lines or from their families back home that protective armor was lacking for vehicles and soldiers.
Maine's 133rd Engineer Battalion took it upon itself to weld armor onto trucks and bulldozers in Iraq after Spec. Christopher Gelineau of Portland was killed by a roadside bomb in April 2004.
Battalion members created armor plates from scrap metal to transform Army trucks never intended for combat into rolling shields against rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs and assault rifle rounds.
Billion dollar Gizmos take precedence over armor ?
In a time of large weapons systems, [Llewellyn King, publisher of the daily newsletter Defense Today], said that the issue was whether the men and women carrying on the urban war are getting the same attention and the research dollars.
[A] general, according to King, said that there was a tendency for contractors to lobby for the big systems while forgetting the little things that can save a life or a leg
'Are there better helmets, better flak jackets, better robots coming to market outside of the formal procurement system? Does the Pentagon have a fast track to examine, validate and procure this equipment if it is superior to what the troops now use and if it will save lives ? We need procedures for the Pentagon procurement system to embrace unorthodox solutions,' King said.