How many U.S. soldiers were wounded in Iraq? Guess again

Dan Froomkin writes: Reports about the end of the war in Iraq routinely describe the toll on the U.S. military the way the Pentagon does [PDF]: 4,487 dead, and 32,226 wounded.

The death count is accurate. But the wounded figure wildly understates the number of American servicemembers who have come back from Iraq less than whole.

The true number of military personnel injured over the course of our nine-year-long fiasco in Iraq is in the hundreds of thousands — maybe even more than half a million — if you take into account all the men and women who returned from their deployments with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, depression, hearing loss, breathing disorders, diseases, and other long-term health problems.

We don’t have anything close to an exact number, however, because nobody’s been keeping track.

The much-cited Defense Department figure comes from its tally of “wounded in action” [PDF] — a narrowly-tailored category that only includes casualties during combat operations who have “incurred an injury due to an external agent or cause.” That generally means they needed immediate medical treatment after having been shot or blown up. Explicitly excluded from that category are “injuries or death due to the elements, self-inflicted wounds, combat fatigue” — along with cumulative psychological and physiological strain or many of the other wounds, maladies and losses that are most common among Iraq veterans.

The “wounded in action” category is relatively consistent, historically, so it’s still useful as a point of comparison to previous wars. But there is no central repository of data regarding these other, sometimes grievous, harms. We just have a few data points here and there that indicate the magnitude. [Continue reading...]

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Comments

  1. It would seem that comparing these types of analyses to the disputed casualty figures of Iraqi civilians one could suppose the figures given in the Lancet article (the British Medical journal) are far more realistic than any reported American figure. The figures are quoted here—
    “To be sure, the researchers of the Lancet study says possible errors leave a range between a low of 392,979 additional deaths and a high of 942,636. The 601,000 figure is the median.”
    If the comparison of quoted US servicemen deaths to actual wounded (given above) are considered, the probable numbers for underreported Iraqi civilian wounding and mental traumas would reach a figure of about 16 million from the Lancet base figure of 400,000 killed. Half the Iraq population have been wounded in some way by George Bush’s war.
    This article vividly reveals the reason why the Washington warmongers are rapidly converting their assault forces to autonomous and remote controlled drones. It also shows that the potential for mass murder among the civilian population of the world is so high that no avenue should be left unexplored as a means of bringing this despicable plan to a halt.