A summary from the publisher:
Ann Jones shines a much-needed light on the dead, wounded, mutilated, brain-damaged, drug-addicted, suicidal, homicidal casualties of our distant wars, taking us on a stunning journey from the devastating moment an American soldier is first wounded in rural Afghanistan to the return home. Beautifully written by an empathetic and critical reporter who knows the price of war.
Read a short, but powerful excerpt about a surgeon's first surgery on a soldier who had stepped on an IED in Afghanistan:
His first surgical patient, three days after he arrived at Bagram, was a young soldier who had stepped on an IED, triggering an upward blast that destroyed his legs and left his pelvic cavity “hollowed out.” His urinary system was in shreds. His testicles were destroyed. His penis was attached to his body by only “a little thread of skin.” That first surgery, the doctor said, was “emotional” for everyone on the surgical team. “The others hadn’t seen anything like these injuries for a while,” he said, “and I had never seen anything like it. To have to amputate that boy’s penis and watch it go into the surgical waste container—it was emotional.”
In two months at Bagram, the urological surgeon had done 20 similar surgeries, though that was the worst. Injuries confined mainly to the testicles are “easier,” he says, but for the soldiers they are brutally serious. Most soldiers who survive blasts that require high-level amputations of their legs also suffer severe injury to the scrotum and ruptured testicles. Surgeons can debride and clean the scrotum, and in many cases salvage at least part of one testicle and put it back. Keeping even part of his genitals is a psychological break for the soldier, but since the testicles produce testosterone, he still faces the inevitable ill effects of a deficient supply—a long and imperfectly understood list headed by osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems including coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis, erectile dysfunction with its attendant psychological difficulties, low sperm count impairing fertility, obesity, depression, and a lifetime seesaw of hormonal treatment.The full excerpt as published in the Alternet article, provides a fascinating and detailed look into what the experience is actually like. If you read my earlier post from this morning, THESE men and women reach the threshold for hero in my book.