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US Trying Hard to Provide Proper Treatment for Wounded Soldiers

f the most severely wounded, he is now a quadriplegic, on a breathing machine, blind and unable to speak, but aware of what has happened to him.

"The mistake in Vietnam was, we hid the injured away from folks so they didn't get to tell their stories. Now it's important that we let them tell their stories to the public," said Dr. Steven Scott, director of the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center at the Tampa VA Medical Center in Florida.

Counting the wounded can be contentious. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense changed how it tallies war-related injuries and illness, dropping those not needing air transport to a military hospital from the bottom-line total.

As of June 2, 25,830 troops had been wounded in action. Of these, 7,675 needed airlifts to military hospitals and the rest were treated and remained in Iraq.

There were another 27,103 non-battle-related air transports. Of those, 7,188 had injuries. Most occurred from vehicle accidents, training or work-related accidents. Ten percent were sports injuries, said Dr. Michael Kilpatrick, who tracks this information for the Defense Department.

Nearly 20,000 of these "non-hostile" airlifts were for illnesses or medical issues: general symptoms like fever or pain needing tests or evaluation; back problems; psychological problems adjusting to being in a war zone; "affective psychoses" (not able to function or care for themselves); neuroses; respiratory or chest symptoms; depression; head and neck problems (including traumatic brain injury); epilepsy; infections, and muscle pulls and strains.

"I don't want to try to say these are not war-related. Being in the military is a very physically demanding job," Kilpatrick said.

For stress-related problems, the military tries "three hots and a cot" warm meals and a chance to sleep. Most of the time it works and troops return to their unit, Kilpatrick said.

Of the troops air evacuated to
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