Bill Sykes' - In Retrospect
Sykes looks back in retrospect at material which has
been published in previous editions of "View from
America", in an attempt to determine whether the
subject matter written then is still applicable in
Introduction to Article VI
I have criticized the American Government/Administration
for many things in the past but I never ever thought
that I would have to criticize the American Government
for some of the most disgusting and callous neglect of
wounded American soldiers who have returned to this country
with shattered bodies and minds from the war zones of
Afghanistan and Iraq.
This Government can spend billions
of dollars in fighting wars that should never have been
fought for the reasons given in the first place, whilst
at same time scrimping and saving on the provision of
decent accommodation and monetary services for their
So even though this is supposed to be a "look back in retrospect" article I thought
that the time has come for me to try to shed some light upon the reported plight
of many young American soldiers, and other members of the Coalition forces, who
are suffering not only the extreme pain of the severe wounds inflicted upon their
bodies but also the indignity of the treatment, or lack of it in many cases,
upon their return home, (the doctors and nurses who have, and who still are,
performing miracles beyond the call of duty to keep the wounded soldiers alive
are no way included in this criticism).
It has been reported that in many
cases the post trauma treatment such as reasonable
accommodations and monetary assistance that they should
be receiving as returning heroes has been found to
my horror to be in many cases lacking and sub-standard. I
will try to describe some of the reported situations
that a number of the returning American wounded are
experiencing. As with past wars this has not
been a homecoming which would fill them with any degree
of belief in the old slogan of returning to, "a
land fit for heroes to live in".
I have searched past editions of, "View from America"
for any items that I may have written about the plight
of war wounded veterans so that I could include them
in this edition, but so far to no avail - so I have
decided to include a couple of poems. (published in
previous newsletters), which were extracted from a
book of poems written by Lawrence Vaincourt, of Toronto,
Canada, and even though they may be descriptive of
aging veterans of World War Two, I’m
sure that they will become relevant to veterans of
current day skirmishes.
The current "official" count of American military casualties
that have occurred in Iraq since the war began on the
19th of March 2003 is 3,242 killed and 24,042 wounded.
The number of other Coalition casualties has been reported
to be 257 which appears to me as being understated.
As a calculated guess I would say that the number of
Iraqi civilians killed and wounded, (which I do not
have any figures for), during the same timeframe would
easily exceed 100,000, many at the hands of their
own people who are involved in this sectarian civil
The number of United States military deaths in Afghanistan
has been reported as 371.
For comparison purposes only - to show the futility and sacrifice made
during a World War situation:
Not to detract from the sacrifices made by the American
and Coalition forces in the forgotten war in Afghanistan
and the war in Iraq, I have researched
the records to see for comparison purposes only if
the number of people who perished in World War Two
could be accurately estimated and have come up with
the following approximate figures
- this of course depends upon the accuracy of the source
of the information available, (which is enormous and
variable), therefore there is no degree of certainty
that the figures provided are completely accurate.
Please forgive me for not including all the countries
that participated in World War Two (*)
as that would be a major undertaking and so before
going into the estimated total for the world as a whole
I will take a look at the major combatants, Great Britain,
France, United States, Germany, Soviet Union, and Japan.
Great Britain: 264,000 military deaths - 60,000 civilians
France: 200,000 military deaths - 400,000 civilian
United States: 292,000 military deaths.
Germany: 4,000,000 military deaths - 2,000,000 civilian
Soviet Union: It is very difficult to provide exact
figures but 25,000,000 deaths appears to be an accepted
figure with approximately one third of the deaths being
Japan: 1.2,000,000 military dead in combat, plus another
1.4,000,000 missing in action, plus the deaths of over
countries who participated in World War Two
It must be noted that amongst the nineteen other countries
involved in World War Two an estimated total of over
60,000,000 people died and unfortunately there were
more civilians killed than military personnel in that
As I mentioned when I started this investigation, I
was overwhelmed with the amount of information available
and therefore I chose what I considered to be the most
realistic figures available and used a consensus of
opinion as a means of coming up with the figures that
I have provided,
Note: The above figures do not include the 6,000,000
people who perished in German concentration camps,
an unknown number of people who perished in the Russian
Gulags, and an unknown number of people who also perished
in Asia at the hands of the Japanese during that period.
As I have mentioned numerous times in my newsletters
"War is Hell", and it’s not the politicians
who fight wars, but it is the politicians who start
wars, and in general it is they the politicians, and
the manufacturers of weapons of war, that are the ones
who profit from the deaths of the many people who perish
during those wars that they the politicians instigated.
If you think the mass killings of people killed in
World War Two to be a terrible indictment of the violence
of human race - just try to imagine the carnage of
any future World War - and there are ominous signs
that a Third World War is getting more imminent by
George Orwell - the famous author, whom I have quoted
many times previously, said that the economy of many
of the nations of this world are dependent upon a war,
or a threat of war, (location not being a major consideration),
being conducted in order to keep their economies stable.
The current war in Iraq was created by the President
of the United States, his administration, and other
warmongering cohorts who conspired to provide all the
wrong reasons for going to war in Iraq, and the final
consequences could be that if this President has his
way and manages to provoke the President of Iran, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, into to reacting to the bait (**)
being provided we may certainly be bordering upon a
complete Middle East War of enormous proportions which
could expand into a Third World War, which neither
Great Britain or the United States can currently afford
to enter into financially or manpower wise.
Maybe it’s too late and the Iranian President
has jumped the gun by the capture of 15 British sailors/marines
in the Persian Gulf but there again what can one do
when faced with the threat of two American aircraft
carriers with enormous firepower plus numerous British
warships and British naval personnel lying off the
shores of the Iranian mainland.
If that’s not intimidation what is.
A land fit for heroes to live in:
Now we come to the real reason for my entering
into this discussion - the treatment of American and
British soldiers on their return home after receiving
horrendous and debilitating wounds in the war which should never have been
fought for the reasons given.
Before I get into the discussion please let me
state that the medical personnel who have been patching up these wounded warriors
have excelled in their treatment of the terrible injuries which have been sustained
and which in many past wars would have meant immediate or a long drawn out
death and are certainly not to be included in this criticism.
One thing that I foresee, (and please let me be wrong),
is that the loss of limbs and other horrific injuries
when looking to the future maybe acceptable to a youthful
body which may lead to a superficial recovery, but
I’m sorely afraid that with the current health
insurance cutbacks and daily increasing costs of health
care, many employers may think twice before employing
even a partial disabled person in say the forty plus
years of age bracket.
I really do hope that this does
not happen, and this is not meant in any way to be
a doom and gloom forecast but I’m trying to be
realistic in a world where the objective of many companies
is to achieve ever increasing profits by reducing expenditures
and lowering the number of employees whilst transferring
ever greater responsibilities upon smaller workforces
that are left. So I see many potential problems occurring
which should never be placed upon the shoulders of
any disabled person, especially military personnel
who have been wounded in action.
An intolerable national disgrace:
A slightly modified and condensed version
of an article which was produced by two staff writers,
Anne Hull and Dana Priest of the Washington Post, dated
the 5th of March 2007, entitled "It’s not
just Walter Reed", is outlined below.
Apparently there has been an outpouring of accounts
filled with emotion and anger at the alleged mistreatment
of wounded outpatients at the Walter Reed Army Medical
Center, a major hospital complex in Washington D.C.
Stories of neglect and sub-standard care have flooded
in from soldiers, their family members, veterans, and
doctors and nurses working within the system. It is
not only at the Walter Reed facilities but also other
military quarters for wounded outpatients who are said
to be in bad shape and where soldiers and veterans
have reported bureaucracy in disarray, similar to the
Walter Reed facility, with indifferent untrained staff,
lost paperwork, and medical appointments dropped from
computer lists resulting in long waits for consultations
They also describe depressing living conditions for
outpatients at other military bases around the country
where mold, mildew, and rot similar to that evidenced
at the Walter Reed Building 18 has been reported. They
tell their version of stories, (which have not been
verified), of callous response to combat stress and
a system ill-equipped to handle another generation
of psychologically scarred veterans. (***)
It must be noted that the official reaction to the
revelations at Walter Reed has been swift and in just
two weeks the Army Secretary has been fired, a Two
Star General has been relieved of his command, and
two special commissions have been appointed to look
into the matter.
A quick response to this particular problem has created
mixed feelings - there has been some cause for gratification
but also some degree of regret and anger that such
rapid attention was not given before, especially to
the wounded veterans of the Vietnam War.
A wounded Captain, who was sent to Fort Knox from Iraq
for treatment in 2004, said "The living conditions
were the worst that he’d ever seen for soldiers
- paint peeling, mold, windows that didn’t work,
little or few nurses, and he had to go to the hospital
chaplain to get them to issue blankets and linens".
With respect to the psychologically
scarred veterans, my investigation
revealed that one out of every
ten soldiers evacuated from
the war on terror to the Army’s largest
hospital in Europe were sent
there suffering from mental
problems, and between 8% to
10% of nearly 12,000 soldiers,
mostly from Iraq, who were
treated at the Landstuhl Regional
Medical Center in Germany had
"psychiatric or behavioral
which means that around 1,000
soldiers were evacuated for
mental health reasons.
I have no figures for the number of soldiers serving
in the Afghan and Iraq wars who have committed suicide.
With respect to Coalition forces, I recently read a
report published in a UK newspaper that thousands of
wounded British war heroes, (7,000 plus to be exact),
who have served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq are living
in poverty because their injury compensation payouts
are being delayed for up to three years.
The British Veterans Agency - the Government body that
deals with payments to wounded soldiers - conceded
ex-forces personnel are waiting for financial help
from a system that is condemned as being inadequate
The articles included in this edition are as follows:
Extracted from the
Mid-November 2003 Edition of “View from America”.
Article entitled: "A
soldier died today"
Extracted from the December 2004 Edition of “View
Article entitled: "The
Eric (Bill) Sykes. (Southern California).
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