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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/20/09

Only $242 million to treat soldiers with brain injuries...Yet billions to Wall Street

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Message Mary MacElveen
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Did you ever read a quote that was prophetic in tone as it relates to someone’s death in particular actress Natasha Richardson?  I do not know why I was saving this one particular article from, Brain-injured GIs Could Number 360,000, but I did and maybe it was to speak out to you, my reader at this given time.


In this one article, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton stated, “the research and other work being done by the military will eventually benefit the civilian world. Whether the injuries occur while people ride bicycles, play football, skateboard or ski, "we know that this is an issue across the country," Yes, it is an issue and lesson to those who partake in those sports and that is the care of their heads so they do not suffer brain damage or worse death due to head blows.


Sadly, in war-time medical advances can be made for the rest of civilization…Still the cost to all of us is something we cannot put a price tag on as soldiers come home wounded not only through brain trauma, but the loss of limbs as well as the burns they often suffer through.  Even as they are being treated by doctors here at home, they are indeed still serving we the people.


Long before helmets were required by law to be worn by children who biked, at the age of six, I flew over the handlebars and incurred an injury to the head.  At that time it took 28 stitches to close the wound and a lasting scar is on my forehead.  Little did the doctors at that time realize the brain injury I incurred which led to my epilepsy.  Through a series of MRIs in the 90s, it was clear to the neurologist treating me, I had a brain lesion from that accident suffered as a child.  That lesion will never go away and I will be on two anti-seizure medications for the rest of my life.  But, the good news is that I am alive and able to write about it.


Within the article I read coming from, it was this statement coming from, Dr. James Kelly, director of the National Intrepid Center, which led me to sit up and take notice of, “Brain injury was not recognized as a problem ... of any consequence and was, especially in the sports community, often dismissed or trivialized." Well, I would suggest to the sports community and the community at large to start paying attention to head injuries especially after the death of Natasha Richardson.


Given the high figure of 360,000 to a low one of 180,000, these soldiers serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan suffered these injuries due to road side blasts.  While some only minor which are concussions, some are more severe such as penetrating head wounds.


As I read this passage I became somewhat enraged, “The Army alone spent $242 million last year for staff, facilities and programs to serve troops with brain injuries, said Lt. Col. Lynne M. Lowe of the Army surgeon general's office.” Excuse me as I throw a fit based upon how much we have given Wall Street and oh yes, those bonuses to AIG executives plus other nefarious corporations.


Here we have men and women going into harms way to serve our country, keep us safe and fight them terrorists and this is the sum they get to treat brain injuries?  This is not good enough and they deserve better coming from those in Washington.


I want to thoroughly embarrass those Wall Street executives who think they deserve these bonuses by pointing out this measly sum spent on our soldiers who incur brain injuries.  Who exactly do you think you are?


This is a time where I wish I had my own “Special Comments” to present as Keith Olbermann so eloquently blasts those in need of it.  I would lay right into these greedy Wall Street executives and to those in Washington to up the amount spent on understanding how brain injuries affect our soldiers as well as the rest of us.  If I hear one person defend these miscreants of Wall Street, all I will say is that our soldiers deserve more.  We as a society deserve more.


I do suspect that some of our soldiers have died from brain bleeds like Natasha Richardson and they too are deserving of our support, our voices and our prayers.  The families they leave behind are just as special as the family members she left behind.  As Broadway dimmed its lights in honor of her last night, many lights should be dimmed in respect and honor to our troops.


Our soldiers deserve a champion of their cause as they suffer these brain injuries, because their lives are as precious.  To those medical experts who have come on television to explain Ms. Richardson’s death, please do the same in honor of our injured troops.  They need your voices, and more importantly, your support.


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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog I have been published by, and I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)
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