The obscene human costs will continue to add up as the war machine rolls on:
Pentagon bean counters see an extra $40 billion in annual costs if President Obama sends 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, but Michael Blecker sees mainly this:
More than 13,000 new cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. An additional 8,000 or so traumatic brain injuries. More suffering and need coming home in the form of wounded vets than the country can easily handle.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have produced more diagnosed cases of PTSD and debilitating injuries per capita than any other war in the nation's history, health care experts say. And veterans who encounter homecoming trouble are becoming homeless more quickly than ever, street counselors say.
It's something most people don't consider when they think of sending more soldiers overseas, said Blecker, head of San Francisco's Swords to Plowshares veterans aid agency. But they should, he said - especially now, as Obama prepares to make a speech to the nation Tuesday.
In his address, the president will announce plans for Afghanistan that are almost sure to involve dispatching tens of thousands of new troops there in the cause of defeating al Qaeda and its terrorist allies.
"We have this theme in this country that we will support our troops, all work as a team, but there are so many cases when they are just released from service and left on their own," Blecker said. "We treat them as second-class citizens, but they are the ones who pay the price."
There are proportionately more vets than ever suffering from PTSD and disability upon coming home because military armor and rescue capabilities are better than ever, experts say. That means fewer soldiers die of serious wounds, and more survive with lost limbs, injured brains and the damaging memories of horror.