The Pentagon deliberately excludes hundreds of thousands of wounded American soldiers, or 95 percent of the total, from its official US casualty rates.
The reason for the cover up of numbers of wounded soldiers appears to be to keep the lid on public reaction. The paradox is that official promotion of the heroic "walking wounded" is compromised by discounting their injuries as not combat-related.
Consider these facts:
- Pentagon official figure for wounded Americans from Iraq and Afghanistan: 38,000;
- Other American casualties [sources: US Veterans Affairs, New England Journal of Medicine]:
-170,000+ hearing damage cases;
-130,000+ mild traumatic brain injuries;
- 200,000+ serious mental health problems;
- 30,000+ serious disease cases;
- hundreds of accident injuries.
This research is compiled by Matthew Nasuti, a whistleblower whose background includes work in the LA District Attorneys office, as a Judge Advocate General [JAG] in the Air Force special operations wing, a manager at Bechtel, and currently in practicing law in Massachusetts. He publishes in the Kabul Press.
"Everybody I talk to says the 500,000 number for casualties is extremely conservative," Nasuti said in an interview with the Bulletin. "I haven't seen any sign of a congressional inquiry into this," he added. President Obama's policies deal with veterans' medical issues "on the back end", Nasuti said, but understate the numbers on the battlefield itself.
The pertinent Pentagon instructions are available at DoD Instruction 1300.18, January 8, 2008, a cumbersome and bewildering 62-page document. The current section E2.56 appears to separate the category of Wounded in Action [WIA], defined as "all kinds of wounds and other injuries incurred in action," as opposed to the catch-all categories of "non-hostile wounded."
By these Pentagon definitions, non-WIA cases would include: roadside accidents outside of combat, the parasitic disease leishmaniasis from sand fly bites, spinal injuries from heavy body armor, hearing loss from high-decibel battlefield noise, traumatic head injuries such as concussions, and mental traumas [according to RAND, 20% of veterans of the two wars suffer from PTSD], which totals 200,000 cases.
Nasuti is pushing for greater media scrutiny and congressional hearings on accuracy in reporting Iraq-Afghanistan war casualties. He also lobbies for safer helmet technology and better protective equipment overall.