Last Tuesday marked another grim milestone: the arrival of the 500th amputee. Army officials said the victim, a 24-year-old corporal, lost both legs in a roadside bomb explosion on January 12. He was treated at the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, before landing at Andrews and being taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The corporal became the newest resident of Ward 57, the hospital's renowned amputee center that has swelled with casualties since 2003. Limb-loss has occurred twice as often in Iraq as in any conflict of the past century, except for Vietnam, for which there are no good statistics. The 500 major amputations - toes and fingers aren't counted - represent 2.2% of the 22,700 U.S. troops wounded in action. But the number rises to 5% in the category of soldiers whose wounds prevent them returning to duty.
Toes and fingers don't count - apparently eyes, ears and skull fragments don't either. Unfortunately, our soldier's horrors don't end with leaving body parts in trash dumpsters in Baghdad. When they get back to the states these brave souls get the honor and pleasure of staying at Uncle Walter's Roach Motel. Just a short wheelchair ride from Capitol Hill. I swear, (and stories like this make me swear a lot) how George and the "Republics" can sleep at night is beyond me.