Lots of times you hear people say with relief, "they were only wounded." You can see in their faces that they are thinking that a soldiers wound in combat is something like a person shot on television, where they grab a hanky and hold it on the flesh wound in the arm or leg.
In real life and real combat people don’t grab a hanky to dab at the blood, because with so many wounds, huge chunks of flesh are ripped off the body or maybe a limb is totally gone.
Two years ago in May 1st, President Bush gave his now famous Mission Accomplished speech. Since that day, on average, every day, two Americans have been killed and sixteen have "only" been wounded.
Thousands of those who have only been wounded have lost an arm or maybe a leg or it could be their eyes or their nose or heck, maybe they only lost their testicles. Think about getting shot right in the face and losing your nose and an eye socket and then think about how lucky you were… only wounded.
The American public has no idea of what the sound of screaming is like when it comes from wounded men and women. Those that have to lend aid to them can never forget it. With some wounds, blood pumps right out into the air with every beat of the heart and that is why you first try to stop the bleeding. Sometimes your buddy has to take off his shirt and hold it over the wound, and it is a real relief when the Corpsman or Medic gets there to take over.
The sights and sounds and obvious pain Soldiers and Marines witness every time some one in their unit is wounded, adds to the fear and stress the whole unit suffers from. Seeing wounded children with their high pitched screams is even harder to take, but the American public gives a sigh of relief when they hear "three Marines wounded."
In Iraq the numbers of dead and wounded would be much higher, but we only count those Americans who serve in the Military. We have literally thousands of paid mercenaries who work for private contractors who are paid with our tax dollars. These people make the big money in this war when you compare what they get, to what our Soldiers and Marines are paid. They make these high wages because this is very dangerous work. We will never know how many of these "troops" have been killed or wounded, because like the Iraqi civilians who are killed or wounded, we don’t keep a public count.
We know that 176 coalition troops have been killed so far in Bush’s war in Iraq, but we have no number for the wounded. If the ratio is the same as ours, then over 1,400 coalition troops have been wounded.
Every Soldier or Marine that suffers a debilitating wound will be paid compensation for the rest of their lives and many will be calling a VA Hospital home for months if not years. We still have troops in our government hospitals from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. They are some of the troops that were "lucky" enough to be only wounded.
Jim Glaser [send him mail], a Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran and Commander of VFW Post 3869, works to educate the American public on the consequences of war. His personal website is James-Glaser.com.