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Five COMPELLING Stars! This is an exceptional, meticulously-researched book which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for author David Wood, who has reported from the 'front lines' of many wars and 'hot spots' for 35 years. Seeing his share of deaths and wounded troops who were "med-evaced" from their units, headed to military trauma facilities, he usually never saw them again. The Huffington Post internet newspaper gave him the chance to followup on severely-wounded military as they returned home for recovery. He discovered that the same attributes of courage and heroism displayed on the battlefield, follow them into their recovery phase in receiving medical treatment and into their re-integration into their families and society in general, sometimes very much changed from the person who went off to war. Many returned missing one or more appendages and/or suffering other forms of body & mind trauma. Thanks to the advances in medical treatment and swift evacuation of the wounded, more military personnel are surviving wounds that would have been fatal in previous wars. The more than 53,000 casualties of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars represent an extremely high survivability rate, exceeding any other US war. But the result is a military and VA medical system that is overwhelmed with survivors, many of whom will be in recovery the rest of their lives.Read more ›
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A lot's been made of this series winning a Pulitzer for the Huffington Post, as if it somehow legitimized "blogs" as a conventional news/information source.
Just because David Wood's series appeared on the internet in a non-print style doesn't make it some sort of niche product. This is the result of painstaking reporting, carefully-crafted writing, and decades of experience and skill - which typically is what will earn a Pulitzer, regardless of the venue.
I've embedded as a journalist in Iraq a few times, and was a soldier in Desert Storm. I was never injured, nor saw an injured US soldier; but I did see an Iraqi after he suffered a 'mild' gunshot wound to the foot. The bullet had gone through-and-through, pushing small bones out the exit wound. A second shot had grazed his back, opening a ragged furrow of skin - lucky, though, because it missed the spine.
Those were minor injuries, but even still, I imagine he was going to be walking with some pain for quite some time. But it reminded me how serious and life-altering a 'minor' injury can be.
Wood explores the far more grave and serious injuries suffered by so many US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Multiple amputations, burns, brain damage - it's ghastly, and hidden behind meaningless terms like "seriously wounded."
It affects family members whose lives are upended - forever. Spouses who go from a partnership to lifelong care providers. And it's just begun - we're only in the first few years of care that thousands of veterans will require for decades to come. We are able to provide revolutionary medical care to soldiers who probably had no business surviving their injuries (and would not have in previous conflicts), but that carries a steep price.Read more ›
I read this book a few months ago, and I still have vivid memories of this book. In this book, the author describes the kinds of wounds that our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, and the medical care that has been provided them since then, from the first moments after their injuries to the present day. Several things stuck out for me in this book:
1. The state-of-the-art medical care that is available today. The War on Terror has led to truly stupendous advances in medical technology that holds the promise of revolutionizing medical care in the civilian world in the coming decades. The techniques and technology that is now available is truly Buck Rogers stuff, but oh, at what a horrendous cost in terms of young men whose lives have literally been shattered by enemy IEDs...
2. Because of the cutting-edge technology being used, and because of very highly-trained and incredibly dedicated medical personnel, including soldiers in combat units who have been specially trained to provide first-responder care in the heat of battle, the survival ratio of wounded soldiers has climbed to all-time highs of over 90%. This is truly miraculous. But the flip side of this progress is that many of our wounded heroes are coming home with the loss of multiple limbs.
3. Due to the nature of their injuries, many of these men will require lifelong medical care, at an enormous cost to themselves and their families. In this sense, many of their family members have now become lifelong soldiers who serve our nation by providing care for their loved ones.Read more ›
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