Thursday, November 8, 2012

True Cost of War: Death, Wounded and Mamed

Iraq: Faces of War

1st Lt. Dustin D. Vincent could be one of the last soldiers to die in the Iraq War. He was killed by small arms fire in Kirkuk Province. Vincent was on his first deployment and you can only imagine the relief his family felt when President Obama announced that all troops would be home from Iraq by the holidays. The Mesquite, Texas 25 year old young soldier leaves behind a wife. Vincent is casualty 4484 in the Iraq War.

From DAVIDMIXNER.COM ~ February 9, 2011

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In the Huffington Post today David Wood has an article on U.S. wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and the grim milestone that on October 25, 2012 the number of American battle wounded passed the 50,000 mark. This figures doesn't include the over 253,330 servicemen and women who have suffered traumatic brain injury or the 5,225 American personnel killed in action in Afghanistan or Iraq, like 1st Lt. Dustin D. Vincent so many in their mid-twenties.

Anyone who watches the nightly news broadcast on Public Television will see the scroll of names and ages of military personnel who have recently died and I am always taken aback at the young ages of these men and women. It is a small final tribute to pay our men and women who serve and often wonder why each newscast on every network is not ended this way.

Four years ago Harvard economist Linda Bilmes estimated the lifetime cost of caring for the war wounded to be between $600 billion and $900 billion, recent data indicates that figure will rise.

The United States is a relatively young country with a long history associated with war. Going back to its founding with the American Revolutionary War that spanned a period from 1775-1783 and tallied up 25,000 casualties, almost topping that was the War of 1812 which really ended in 1815 and sustained 20,000 casualties.

So far the war the United States had with itself holds the record for casualties at 625,000 during the Civil War lasting from 1861-1865. Even adding the casualties from World War I (116,516) and World War II (405,399) both together doesn't top the Civil War statistics.

The longest period the United States went between being involved in a war was from the end of the Great Sioux War in 1877 and the beginning of the Spanish-American War in 1898. On average it seems America is most comfortable being involved is conflict somewhere in the world.

So you see just a little glance back at our history and it is easy to see why we are so obsessed with war. I put forth the argument that is has more to do with money than it has to do with principles or ideals. I wonder just how long it will take for us to evolve from this mindset to one that will truly be concerned with the betterment of mankind and creating a healthy global environment.

Source Material:

Huffingtonpost article by David Wood 11/7/2012

Congressional Research Service:American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics February 26, 2010

American War Deaths Through History


  1. Americans shudder and look the other way when it comes to injuries caused by war. The number of traumatic brain injuries alone is wildly unacceptable. And for what? That's the key question. For what? But Americans also refuse to consider this issue. Thank dog Romney wasn't elected or Iran would be nuked. And who knows where that would lead?

  2. Thank you for your comment Keith. We are indeed an odd society.