BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELD: The Endless Struggle For America's Severely Wounded Warriors
HUFFINGTONPOST.COM - July 4, 2010, was a bad day for Tyler Southern. He dreamed he was
with his older brothers, playing sandlot football, running and laughing,
horsing around just like they used to when they were together as kids
in Jacksonville, Fla.
In his dream, he was whole again.
Then he awoke in his hospital bed at the Walter Reed National
Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and reality came flooding
back. Both of his legs and his right arm were gone, blown off in
Afghanistan two months earlier by an improvised explosive device so
powerful that only bits of his legs and boots were ever found. The
explosion left one remaining limb, his left arm, broken and mangled.
Southern began to hyperventilate. His mother Patti, at his bedside,
reached out to calm him. Mom, something's coming on, he cried. Breathe
with me, she murmured. Breathe with me. She gathered him in her arms and
held his head tight against her chest as sweat beaded over his body and
his heart pounded wildly. He gulped lungfuls of air, his mother rocking
him in her arms.
Breathe with me.
Suddenly Southern vomited. Patti rocked him gently in her arms until he was calm.
"My last big, bad day," he recalled recently. "Everybody has 'em," he
added, speaking of the other patients he knows who are struggling with
A 22-year-old Marine Corps corporal, Southern is just one of a
growing number of young Americans -- 16,000 or more, so far, out of 2.3
million American troops sent overseas -- who volunteered for Iraq or
Afghanistan and came back alive but catastrophically wounded.
Those numbers are small but significant, because they indicate an
alarming new trend in warfare. Despite untold billions of dollars spent
over the past 10 years to defeat Afghan insurgents, the enemy's ability
to severely wound Americans in battle is growing, according to U.S.
military data and analysis.
Proportionately fewer American troops are being killed outright on
the battlefield, thanks in part to better protective equipment and
improved medical care. "We are stealing some people from death," Army
Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho, a senior Army medical officer, told me at
Still, more Americans are being wounded in combat. And their wounds
are more severe and complex, raising difficult issues for military
medicine and for the nation on which disabled soldiers will depend for a
lifetime of care.
The Defense Department uses a measure called the Military Injury
Severity Score to categorize wounds. In Afghanistan, the severity scores
have increased steadily since 2006, the Army reported in June.
The number of American soldiers who lost at least one limb in combat
doubled from 86 in 2009 to 187 last year, while the number with multiple
limb loss tripled, from 23 in 2009 to 72 last year. Those in need of
blood transfusions of 10 units of blood or more (the human body holds a
total of 10 units of blood) rose during that 12-month period from 91 to
And triple amputees like Tyler Southern are becoming more common.
Their ranks have nearly doubled this year from the total of all triple
amputees seen over the past eight years of war, the Army said in its
report, "Dismounted Complex Blast Injury."
"These complex blast injuries are not only complex for the person to
live with for the rest of their life, but they're also difficult for the
entire medical health care system because of the resources they take,"
said Army Col. James Ficke, chief orthopedic surgeon at the Brooke Army
Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Click here to read more
Friday, April 18 2014 11:34 PM EDT2014-04-19 03:34:48 GMT
YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania high school student is in hot water for asking Miss America to prom during a question and answer session at school. Eighteen-year-old Patrick Farves said he received three days of in-school suspension Thursday because he asked Nina Davuluri to prom. >>
YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania high school student is in hot water for asking Miss America to prom during a question and answer session at school. Eighteen-year-old Patrick Farves said he received three days of in-school suspension Thursday because he asked Nina Davuluri to prom.
Saturday, April 19 2014 11:46 PM EDT2014-04-20 03:46:42 GMT
SPOKANE, Wash.- An investigation is underway into shots fired in two separate places early Saturday morning. Police say the first shooting happened on the 1600 block of East Mission. Two armed men forced their way into an apartment and the victim tried to disarm them.>>
SPOKANE, Wash.- An investigation is underway into shots fired in two separate places early Saturday morning. Police say the first shooting happened on the 1600 block of East Mission. Two armed men forced their way into an apartment and the victim tried to disarm them. >>