drowned in mud, no more tears
surely a war no one can win
killing time about to begin
--Paschendale, Iron Maiden
Last week Ranger viewed a special on Public Television featuring two fine young American soldiers suffering Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) resulting from IED attacks suffered while serving in Afghanistan. The piece focused on the collateral damage to the families of these once-vibrant young men.
The documentary opened with a voice-over regarding one soldier who had become paralyzed after his IED attack. The viewer is then told that following extensive rehabilitation, the soldier is now capable of movement, giving a feeling of hope. The camera now flashes to that young man in a wheelchair, being spoken to, vacantly staring ahead, trying to make meaning from the words being spoken to him by his father. He is not o.k.
The ramifications were heartbreaking, but that is a quality that can't be quantified; however, the financial cost can be evaluated. Private facilities charge $80,000/month to attempt to rehabilitate these men.
The cost to the Department of Veterans Affairs is $40,000 per month. Neither figures calculate the additional cost of benefits being paid to these men, who deserve nothing but the best.
The U.S. citizenry must ask: What in Afghanistan was worth the cost that is being borne by these injured young people, who number in the thousands? As a society, we fail to consider the future costs of caring for these injured shells of once proud soldiers.
Both men had Ranger and Marine flags and wore Ranger and USMC hats, which strikes Ranger in a contradictory manner. Here we are, viewing the the sad result that service ultimately entails, and this is the juxtaposed against showy pride in that sacrifice. This is fine and good, but Ranger wonders how many Rangers or Marines will ever visit these men once they return home from our far-flung, endless wars.
One would expect not often, since warriors are not known for their empathy.
We as a society are lost when we willingly accept -- and in fact, cheer on -- the slaughter and diminution of our young in wars that are questionable at best; criminal at worst. Which is worse: Having seen this on t.v., or having seen it in the wards of the 24th Evac Hospital in Long Binh, RVN?
It was just business as usual back then for a young Ranger. But to an old Ranger, the sorrow is devastating.