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US Trying Hard to Provide Proper Treatment for Wounded Soldiers

the VA's four polytrauma centers, where the most complex wounds are treated with state-of-the-art techniques and whiz-bang devices like "power knee" or "smart ankle" prosthetics. Others battle bureaucracy to see doctors or get basic benefits in less ideal settings.

Mental health problems loom large. More than a third of troops received psychological counseling shortly after returning from Iraq, and a third of those were diagnosed with a problem, a recent Pentagon study found. The government plans to add 200 psychologists and social workers to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues.

No one knows what the ultimate cost will be. Harvard University economist Linda Bilmes estimates the lifetime health-care tab for these troops will be $250 billion to $650 billion a wide range but a huge sum no matter how you slice it.

Who are the wounded?

Lee Jones, 24, of Lumberton, N.C., was severely burned on the face, hands, feet and legs when his Humvee was hit with an IED two years ago. A partial amputee with speech and other problems from a severe brain injury, he now does work therapy delivering mail at a VA hospital and tries to re-establish life in a nearby apartment with a wife and baby daughter.

Marine Cpl. Joshua Pitcher, 22, from upstate New York, is a Purple Heart recipient who returned to Iraq after he was shot in 2005. Half of his skull was removed to allow his brain to swell as he now recovers from a brain injury and shrapnel wounds from a grenade blast in February.

Maj. Thomas Deierlein, 39, is a New York City marketing executive who served five years after graduating from West Point. Twelve years later, called up as a reservist, he nearly died of bullet wounds that shattered his pelvis, leaving him with a colostomy and learning to walk again.

Joseph "Jay" Briseno, 24, of Manassas Park, Va., was shot in the back of the neck by an Iraqi in the early months of the war. One o
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