Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The Washington Post has a good article about female amputees from the Iraq war. They are the first American women to suffer the iconic combat wound. Nothing new for a nation accustomed to maimed men returning from war; America seems to be taking female casualties pretty much in stride.

...[T]he fact of female casualties has produced little public reaction. Before Iraq, many assumed that the sight of women in body bags or with missing limbs would provoke a wave of public revulsion.

"On the whole, the country has not been concerned about female casualties," said Charles Moskos of Northwestern University, a leading military sociologist. Politically, Moskos said, it is a no-win issue. Conservatives fear they will undermine support for the war if they speak out about wounded women, and liberals worry they will jeopardize support for women serving in combat roles by raising the subject, he said....

Women have now achieved the same anonymity in war as men. Faceless casuaties, occasionally seen, disturbing. The women will get some attention for their novelty but like legions of veterans before them they will fade into the war's history. But while they have our attention, we should recognize their sacrifice and ask our leaders what these sacrifices have achieved for this nation.

Best quote from the article:

The advent of female combat amputees has left an enduring impression on many hospital staff members. "We have learned not to underestimate or be overly skeptical about how these women will do," said Amanda Magee, a physician's assistant in the amputee care program. "Sometimes they arrive in really bad shape, and people are really worried. . . . But we've learned they can move on from a devastating injury as well as any man."

Be sure to check out the photo link in the story. The little girl brushing her mother's hair made me want to cry.

Iraq veteran and amputee, BD, is the focus of this week's Doonesbury. BD's life after losing his leg is some of Gary Trudeau's best work ever. His wit and humor make visible a very difficult journey. For the complete story, read his collection, The Long Road Home.


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