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Fort Snelling's VA Medical Center is rehabilitating brain-damaged soldiers. But that's only half the story.
Sunday's PiPress featured a lengthy story about Army Staff Sgt. Eric Cagle, a soldier so severely brain damaged in Iraq he spends four hours a day in intensive therapy at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis. It's a horrific tale on it's own, but while the writer was cheerleading the "better armor" and improved survival rate of the war, he failed to stress that Cagle is one of approximately 2,400 soldiers of the Iraq war suffering from a traumatic brain injury.
On top of that, more than half of the brain-damaged soldiers brought to Fort Snelling were injured by IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and there's no mention of the fact that the Defense Department was ill-prepared for guerilla warfare and street-to-street combat. It's been more than two years since the war began, and the trucks and Humvees still aren't properly equipped with enough armor to protect the soldiers from IED attacks. While some soldiers might survive certain attacks because of improved body armor (improved since Vietnam, that is), there are plenty of soldiers injured because vehicles are not properly armored. And when attempting to ascertain why there's a high percentage of brain injuries with this war (as compared to the mass casualties of Vietman), better body armor shouldn't even be taken into consideration since it's only designed to protect a person's torso and not their head.
A few other facts about the increase in brain injuries caused by IEDs and the Army's lack of preparation:
1. Of the 79 soldiers who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom in May, 35 were killed in an IED attack.
2. IEDs injure more soldiers in Iraq than any other form of warfare, including blasts, shrapnel, and gunshot wounds.
3. From March 2003 to March 31st 2005, 3,985 injured troops were brought to Walter Reed. ( Two-thirds of them suffered a severe brain injury.)
4. Poorly armored Humvees and trucks have resulted in one-fifth to one-half of the troop deaths and injuries in Iraq.
Click here to read soldiers' stories about being forced to create "Hillbilly Armor."
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