Friday, October 22, 2004

War on Iraq: The Unknown Soldiers: "The soft-spoken 62-year-old civilian speaks not of politics but of humanity – the terrible toll imposed by all wars, unjust or otherwise, on all involved, soldier or civilian.... At a time when the reality of the suffering in Iraq has been rendered invisible by media hype and partisan battle, Gene Bolles remains a steadfast advocate for the scarred, the maimed, and the tormented – whose numbers are far, far greater than what the Bush administration would like to admit."

"And they were 18, 19, maybe 21. They all seemed very young. Certainly younger than my children. As a neurosurgeon I mostly dealt with injuries to the brain, the spinal cord, or the spine itself. The injuries were all fairly horrific, anywhere from loss of extremities, multiple extremities, to severe burns. It just goes on, and on, and on. There were just a lot of serious injuries. As a doctor myself who has seen trauma throughout his career, I've never seen it to this degree. The numbers, the degree of injuries. It really kinda caught me off-guard."

"Many would break down talking about seeing their buddy get hurt or killed. They would even talk about the Iraqi soldiers – how awful it was, all that carnage. One guy hadn't slept for a long time because of nightmares because of what he saw early in the war, when we were killing high numbers of Iraqis. And he saw some of them got run over by tanks. He just couldn't get those images out of his mind. They talk about hearing screams of comrades or enemies or civilians, or children. To see it and be there creates a lot of reaction.... It's just starting and it's only going to get worse. Those numbers are going to do nothing but increase. You have the physical injuries which speak for themselves.... These are people in a lot of chronic pain.... There's a lot of people suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome – that number is going to go up, and up, and up as time goes on."

"I think about it a lot when I go to bed at night. I can't get it out of my head. It haunted me then and it haunts me now – the horrific, horrific injuries that these young people will now have to deal with for their rest of their lives. And I don't know if I'll ever stop thinking about them. I just feel a tremendous sadness – and that's just the way it is."

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