On Dec. 10, the USO, one of our oldest and most respected military support organizations, sent out a mass fundraising email with a shocking statistic. Total American military casualties from our Afghan and Iraq wars are 405,522 wounded, disabled or dead.
This is probably the first time these horrible numbers have been compiled and announced all at once. In 2007, the Rand Corp. had estimated overlapping figures of 350,000 traumatic brain injuries and 300,000 cases of PTSD.
Ads for the Wounded Warrior Project state that more than 50,000 troops have been seriously wounded. Syracuse Universitys institute for veterans and military families says that unlike previous wars, when most were single men, most of our military today have spouses and children.
And households with disabled vets disproportionately fall below the poverty line. Have these families suffered enough for you? Our new bipartisan budget plan aims to cut the cost-of-living raises for disabled veterans pensions.
Several JCC students have told me of their PTSD-afflicted husbands waking up, unintentionally choking their wives. Local police have described trying to stop a PTSD victim driving wildly, dodging imaginary improvised explosive devices on the highway.
Nationally, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and we lose more active duty military to suicide than to combat. Despite some casualty statistics above reminiscent of World War II and the Civil War, powerful figures in Washington want to keep thousands of our troops in Afghanistan way beyond 2014.
A number of Senate Democrats have called for new sanctions on Iran even before we complete talks that could stop Irans developing a nuclear weapon.
This could sink these negotiations and put us on a path toward another war before we end our current one.
What forces drive us toward endless war? With no draft and our military only 1 percent of our population, they and their families horrific sacrifice doesnt touch most Americans.
Not a lot of votes involved. The above six-figure casualty number has been below the national radar until now.
The Watertown Daily Times once reported how out-of-state defense contractors bankrolled nonveteran John McHughs re-election runs until his promotion from the House to secretary of the Army. But all the military contractors in the United States would need help to keep us in perpetual war.
Their friends in Congress are likely a major factor, but it seems this mighty stool would need a third leg. The U.S. probably has more officers of general or admiral rank and above than any other nation.
While their six-figure salaries help, their resumes for retirement careers with defense contractors, or as cable news talking heads, would suffer if we lost a war on their watch. The best way to avoid this is to keep wars going beyond their personal retirement dates.
So no peace for the United States has broken out during this century and is unlikely to do so until enough people take a stand.
Endless war makes it impossible to address our problems at home.
Roland Van Deusen