WarDefense Department claims that ‘only’ 30,000 U.S. servicemen have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that number is a gross underestimate:
On Veterans Day, politicians will praise the 30,000 troops “officially wounded” in action in Iraq and Afghanistan as if this “statistic” were some kind of “fact.” In doing so, they’ll harm the men and women who carry the burden of our nation’s defense in today’s very dangerous world.
That 30,000 number is a fantasy.
Here’s the truth about the human cost borne by the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as shown by data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Of the 1.5 million troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 720,000 (48%) are now veterans in the civilian population.
Of these, 202,000 have filed claims for VA disability benefits. The VA granted benefits in more than 90% of the cases processed so far, and will grant more upon appeal or presentation of additional evidence.
In other words, real statistics show that one out of four veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is disabled in military service. This should shock no one as troops return to the war zones for their third, fourth, and now fifth tours of combat duty.
And maha reminds us some of the domestic consequences of these perpetual wars in the name of peace:
It’s also worth thinking about how warfare itself has changed. In 1918, several warring nations agreed that the war would stop on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. But it’s unlikely our current military actions will end with an armistice. Wars will just go on, and on, until changing circumstances cause people to lose interest.
For that reason, war can no longer be thought of as an extraordinary event of limited duration that will end on some day future generations will have to memorize for history tests. From now on, we must understand that when we choose to engage in a large military action there may not be an end to it for many years. Certainly, there can be exceptions to this. If a war has a narrow and sharply defined mission — running Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, for example — then a war might still be of limited duration. When the mission is more grandiose and less specific — ending evil, spreading democracy, making the world safe from terrorism — then don’t expect to live long enough to see the end of it. Unless, of course, we just stop fighting it.
And for that reason, “we’re at war” can no longer be an excuse for playing fast and loose with the Constitution. It was controversial enough when Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt assumed extraordinary “war powers” that would be relinquished when the wars ended. When President Bush expands the powers of the presidency, he is in effect changing the way powers are balanced and separated from now on. Because our wars will have no armistice, no formal conclusion dignified with treaties and ceremonies, war powers will not be relinquished unless some future President chooses to do so. Or, unless Congress and the Courts force the President to relinquish them.
Is this what we asked them to fight and die for?