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Third place
Rick Loomis The Los Angeles Times
"The Lifeline: A Journey Through Trauma"

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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.'


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