02 August, 2005

Numbers Game

I'm sure many of you remember hearing that Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (the military hospital that handles nearly all the sick and wounded soldiers coming from Afghanistan and Iraq) recently treated it's 25,000th patient from the battles of the GWOT. I had never seen the breakdown of those numbers: how many were injuries vs. illnesses, etc. But Greyhawk has the details, and they are rather surprising.

Before you click that link, stop and think about what you would guess the distribution of those 25,000 patients is... how many combat injuries, non-combat injuires and how many general illnesses you think are contained in that staggering number.

Now, I almost hesitate to post the following because I don't want to diminish either the number or breadth of life-changing injuires to those wounded in combat. However, be sure to notice the statistics for amputations. Of course, these numbers don't include those who may keep a limb with severe nerve damage, those with severe head trauma, or those who suffer other limb injuries from which they will never completely recover. But the numbers are still quite surprising when one considers the vague impressions we receive from news coverage on the subject. (Now you can go read the link. Come back when you're done, if you would).

Keep those amputation numbers in mind as you read the following:

As Greyhawk points out, the media brings the cases of the most gruesome injuries to the forefront, and so we often read about soldiers who are challenged with these kinds of injuries. Usually they are quite heroic in their courage, determination, and sheer perseverence, which is inspiring to those of us who doubt we have what it takes to deal with what they face. But that seems rarely to be the point of the newspaper and TV profiles. As is often the case, we've been shown a rather distorted picture when it comes to discussions of injuries to those serving in Iraq and (less so) Afghanistan. I hesitate to throw rocks at the diverse and amorphous entity we call "the media," so I'll leave you the opportunity to decide why and to what (if any) end...