While much attention is paid to the 3,000-plus
U.S. service members killed in Iraq since the invasion, the number
of wounded now stands at over 25,000 people. Many of the most seriously
wounded would have died in previous wars. In a war with no fixed front,
military hospitals in Iraq are closer than ever to the places where
American troops are felled — most often by roadside bombs, but
also by rockets, mortars and gunshots. The amputation rate in Iraq
is double that of previous wars. Many soldiers face the rest of their
lives without arms or legs, or with severe brain damage. Even for
the wounded who will walk again, and perhaps return to battle, the
physical damage, and the psychological scars, last forever.
SSgt. Vincent Worrell, fresh into the Balad, Iraq surgical
hospital for care after an IED attack, had earned his second purple
heart in one year while battling Iraqi insurgents. 'My wife's going
to be pissed,' he told the doctor. 'She specifically gave me instructions
not to get perforated over here.'