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US Trying Hard to Provide Proper Treatment for Wounded Soldiers

The US government does not have a precise figure of those wounded in the killing fields of Iraq or Afghanistan.

The death toll is relatively easy to keep track of 3,500 in Iraq for instance. But in the case of the wounded estimates vary, between 35,000 and 53,000.

But more important the precise numbers it is the lack of proper medical treatment available for the returning soldier that has caused concerns all round.

More than 800 of them have lost an arm, a leg, fingers or toes. More than 100 are blind. Dozens need tubes and machines to keep them alive. Hundreds are disfigured by burns, and thousands have brain injuries and mangled minds.

The signature weapon of the Iraq war the improvised explosive device, or IED has left a signature wound: traumatic brain injury.

Soldiers hit in the head or knocked out by blasts "getting your bell rung" is the military euphemism sometimes have no visible wounds but a fog of war in their minds. They can be addled, irritable, depressed and unaware they are impaired.

Only an estimated 2,000 cases of brain injury have been treated, but doctors think many less obvious cases have gone undetected. One small study found that more than half of one group of wounded troops arriving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center had brain injuries. Around the nation, a new effort is under way to check every returning man and woman for this possibility.

Some of those on active duty may have subtle brain damage that was missed when they were treated for more visible wounds. Half of those wounded in action returned to duty within 72 hours before some brain injuries may have been apparent. The military just adopted new procedures to spot these cases, too.

The Walter Reed hospital scandal and problems with some VA nursing homes have led Republicans and Democrats to call for better care for this new crop of veterans.

A lucky few get Cadillac care at one of
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