Friday, November 11, 2011

A COP 24/7 Salute

On this Veteran's Day we salute the men and women who have the courage to bear arms in defending and representing this nation. It is through their bravery and boldness that each of us continues to enjoy freedom and prosperity in our indivuals lives as well as communities across the nation. As we pay homage to the enlisted we can't forget that all who go to foreign soil to defend our way of life or acting as an allied partner sometimes must surrender their lives in the ultimate sacrifice.Therefore as a nation at war, we must demand that those who defend and protect must be given adequate resolve, bastions of ongoing health care and accommodations within the workplace as they return to our shores. We can not allow their service become unsignificant or common place as we move through our own daily pursuits. It's imperative that we as a collective began to share in their pain, progress and future passions while comforting those families who's love one's didn't return home. Thanks for your service and may God Bless all of you!!

COP 24/7 Special
The Price of WAR 2011

As many of you may know I'm a NPR fan, and many of the shows that run this network have so much depth and investigation that keeps me coming back for more. I've even had chance to appear on a segment produced by KUAR earlier this year and many of you got to hear me speak concerning diversity issues in the LGBTQ community and beyond. On this Veterans Day,  I heard a great production from Fresh Air which runs daily featuring WHYY's interviewer Terry Gross. Each of interviews are truly "fresh air" on their prospectives and objectives. No matter who she is interviewing, its the nuances as well as remote nuggets of information that she harvest which makes all the difference. I'd love to meet her and who knows interview her about just how she does such good work. In the following piece she interviews, David Wood, about the plight of soliders in combat. If you want to actually hear the interview you can do so at  Look for the Fresh Air tab. All content atributed to Fresh Air and NPR.

Treating Soliders With Severe Combat Wounds

Improvements in medical care and equipment mean fewer troops are dying on the battlefield. But more troops are returning home severely wounded, with injuries that require lifelong care and cost millions of dollars in medical bills.

On Thursday's Fresh Air, veteran combat reporter David Wood talks about some of the challenges that severely wounded soldiers face when they return from Afghanistan and Iraq. Wood is the author of a new 10-part series for The Huffington Post called "Beyond the Battlefield" that examines some of those challenges and setbacks.

"One of the things that we as a country are learning is that people who are wounded in war are wounded forever."

Wood tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that fewer U.S. troops die outright on the battlefield — because of protective equipment and better medical care. But more Americans are being wounded, and their injuries are more "severe and complex." The number of American soldiers who lost at least one limb doubled from 2009 to 2010, and the number of triple amputees has nearly doubled, he says. Almost all of the severely injured troops return to the U.S. with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

"It's so tragic to see these young men and women struggling not only to master prosthetic legs, for example, but to try to fight their way through the fog that descends into your brain when you have a brain injury like that," says Wood. "It's often very hard for them to think clearly, to recall words, to do small problems, to remember to take their medication and make their appointments. Surprisingly, there's been so much advancement in physical medicine during this war — but it's only been in recent years that the military has recognized TBI as a combat wound, and it's pretty clear that no one knows what the best treatment is."

A Soldier's Story

One of the soldiers Wood profiles is Lance Cpl. Tyler Southern. Southern was 19 when an improvised explosive device, or IED, blew up underneath him in Afghanistan. The blast tore up both of his legs and one arm, and mangled his remaining left arm. Southern was taken to an intermediate battlefield medical facility where he flat-lined.

"He was bleeding so heavily that they could not keep blood in him, and the blood was pouring out of him," says Wood. "As soon he came off the helicopter and they rushed him into an operating room, doctors slashed off the side of his chest and reached in and clamped off all of the veins leading to the lower part of his body in an effort to squeeze what little remaining fluid was left up to his brain to keep his brain alive."

After he had stabilized, Southern was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center's amputee center, where wounded veterans learn how to adapt to their injuries. He faces years of rehab, after having endured dozens of surgeries to clean and repair his limbs. But he manages to make light of his situation — he has handed out T-shirts to other Marines on his floor that say "I had a blast!" and spends most of his days working out to try to build muscle in his remaining limb.

"He's an extremely active, very funny, very bright, very quick person ," says Wood. "It's hard to get him to stand still to talk to him. He's constantly moving."

'People Who Are Wounded In War Are Wounded Forever'

But not all of the soldiers Wood writes about have thrived as much as Southern. Jimmy Cleveland Kinsey II, a Marine, returned from Iraq after driving over an IED. The blast tore through his leg, leaving him with shrapnel wounds, burns, post-traumatic stress disorder and TBI. When he returned home, Kinsey was in chronic pain.

"He was a good Marine, a fun-loving guy. I never knew him, but he's the kind of guy you'd like to hang around with," says Wood. "He got drugs to control the pain. His leg got worse and worse, and they had to take it off. ... That set him into a depression. His addiction to pain medication and anxiety medication got worse. Jimmy was a strong guy, but in the end his wounds and the effects of them did him in. He died in a PTSD clinic of an overdose of [the pain killer] fentanyl."

It's not clear whether Kinsey's overdose was intentional or accidental, but what is clear, says Wood, is that Kinsey didn't get the help he needed. And he's not alone. Wood writes that 18 veterans kill themselves every day. (That figure includes veterans from Vietnam and other wars.)

"When you think about it, one of the things that we as a country are learning is that people who are wounded in war are wounded forever," he says. "Even though there are many cases like Tyler Southern, people who seem to almost thrive on the challenge of their new life, even with Tyler Southern, he'll be dealing with his wounds for the rest of his life. They don't go away."

No comments: