The GI casualty figure is the latest lie uncovered about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon reports the number of wounded somewhere in the teens (including nearly 4,000 dead in Iraq). But Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) says the Defense Department only releases one category of battlefield casualty, those “wounded in action” by a bullet, shrapnel or knife.
“A GI who cracks his head on the windshield of his Humvee in a crash, though he may have suffered brain damage and had to be evacuated…is considered ‘injured,’ not ‘wounded,’” says VCS head Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War I vet. Government figures released to the media don’t include such casualties. Sullivan’s Freedom of Information Act request revealed that through January 5, 2008, U.S. battlefield casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan totaled 72,000.
A GI suffering a heart attack or severe emotional collapse is considered “ill,” not “wounded,” never entering the official casualty count.
Sullivan, a former Veterans Administration (VA) project manager, blew the whistle on inadequate vets’ health care long before the Washington Post “broke” the story. The VCS reports that “VA hospitals and clinics have already treated 263,909 ‘unplanned’ patients” and 245,034 “unanticipated” disability claims from veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Sullivan expects an eventual 700,000 patient claims.
Meanwhile, a leading British polling group, the Opinion Research Business, recently reported 1.03 million Iraqi deaths. (Reuters, 1/30/08) That figure omits three of Iraq’s 18 provinces, two of which are among the country’s most volatile, Kerbala and Anbar. But U.S. rulers completely ignore Iraqi deaths.
Such is the destruction of human lives wrought by U.S. imperialism in its drive to control oil supplies and other resources and maintain profits, battling its capitalist rivals.