05 April 2006

Journalists finally do their duty for the soldiers who did the same

Almost 6,700 Britons have needed hospital treatment in Iraq since the invasion three years ago - almost as many as the total number of British troops still stationed there. About 4,000 were sufficiently injured or ill to be sent home to Britain.

The figures include soldiers and civilians injured in accidents or taken ill, or who have suffered psychological problems, as well as those injured in fighting. They were posted on the Ministry of Defence website yesterday, on the day that MPs dispersed for their Easter break, after months of criticism directed at the Government for refusing to give details about the "forgotten" British casualties.
After The Independent printed this story last week, I was once again impressed at how the U.K. outlets continue to set an example of a press that does its job instead of wringing its hands over it. In the U.S., the press--along with most everyone else--has forgotten that "casualties" refers to both the dead and the wounded. With all the stories about soldiers surviving catastrophic injuries in greater numbers than ever before, it stands to reason that the ranks of the injured were also growing appreciably. Not surprisingly, like his British lapdog counterpart, El Presidente has also managed to hide those numbers numbers from wide release.

Unlike Britain, however, if our media outlets demanded details about the "forgotten casualties" they--not the government--would be the ones facing criticism. For not reporting the so-called good news, for undermining morale...or for whatever other excuse of the week the administration and its apologists use to put the media in bed with the enemy.

In short order, however, the L.A. Times helped redeem the press on this side of the pond with this must-read series on the servicemen and women wounded in Iraq and the amazing medical personnel who treat them. Whether tragic or inspiring, every story is powerful and, most importantly, long-overdue for the telling. For each one of these 17,400+ soldiers, the sacrifice is life changing and, as such, deserves--demands--to be remembered, not quietly shuffled aside specifically to avoid doing so.

Be forewarned, the articles are accompanied by some graphic images, which, in my opinion, is only appropriate. For these troops, the "cost of the war" isn't an abstract concept, but a painful, human it should be for us all.

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