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At War

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Message F Nick Jacobs

On Sunday at 10:30 PM, a very moving and disturbing documentary from executive producer James Gandolfini aired on HBO.  This hour long special featured the lives of several  brave and severely wounded U.S.Veterans who had survived attacks while fighting in Iraq.


The HBO promo stated, “The physical and emotional cost of war was conveyed through the first-person stories of ten young soldiers who survived near-fatal wounds in Iraq.” These brave, young people were an inspiration to all as they described their Alive Day, the day that they were nearly killed and actually lived to tell us about that moment in time that was almost their last.


Regardless of your politics, this documentary demonstrates, once again, the true cost of war.  With 3762 deaths and 27,767 soldiers wounded, we are seeing a new generation of human beings suffering from traumatic brain injury, post traumatic shock syndrome and, according to the documentary, the greatest number of amputees since the Civil War.  Between 71,000 and 78,000 Iraq civilians have also been estimated to have become casualties of the war as well. 


According to military strategists and scholars, these numbers are minute compared to previous wars, and, although the war had admittedly dubious origins, the reality of preserving some type of order in the Middle East, unless we begin to develop a serious decrease in fossil fuels, is paramount to not only the U. S. economy but, as some would argue, to our personal safety.  


On September 11, 2001, our hospital received one of the first 911 calls as Flight 93 crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA.  Six years later we are in a very serious world wide conflict that is described accurately as gorilla warfare, where the enemy could easily be anyone, and our sons and daughters are placed in harms way each and every minute of every day. 


As I live my sixth decade of life on this planet, the irony of this horrendous challenge is not lost on me.  Born at the end of WW11, having lived through Korea, Vietnam, and a half dozen other encounters, my hopes and beliefs surrounded the fact that we would become more intelligent and that war would be seen for exactly what it is, man’s inhumanity to man, a stupid journey that yields nothing but pain and hurt for those who are involved. 


Instead, thousands of years after civilization was declared viable, we still kill each other over religion, over minerals, over land and over power.  God Bless America.  God Bless these brave men and women who have sacrificed so much, and God Bless us all as this war continues with no end in sight.  Let us all work toward an intelligent model of withdrawal, redeployment, or multi-national participation that will benefit all sides.  It is time

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Nick Jacobs is the CEO of Windber Medical Center and Windber Research Institute
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At War

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