« Womb with a view | Main | Hannah errant »

Between the lines: IEDs and IOUs

Not to go all Jane on you all, but a passage from an article in today's NYT, "A New Kind of Care in a New Era of Casualties", about the challenges of rehabilitating soldiers who are, thanks to advances in medical technology, surviving wounds of historically unprecedented serverity (perhaps "thanks" and "surviving" deserve scare quotes there), leapt out at me this morning:

"These soldiers were kept alive," said Dr. Steven G. Scott, the Tampa center's director. "Now it's up to us to try and give them some meaningful life."

A "meaningful life" — precisely what, I would guess, many of them were searching for when they entered the armed forces, given that it's precisely what the civilian sector denied them, from failing public education to sub-living wages to discrimination in terms of race, class, gender, and perhaps even geography. (One of my favorite stats from the war is that the unemployment in Private Jessica Lynch's home county was somewhere around 16%.) No, not perhaps: there's a reason New Orleans washed away that doesn't have anything to do with acts of God.

I don't mean to speak universally: obviously there are many who enlist for their own ideals and conscious motivations, not out of any sense of desperation (and who knows, when paid housing and pensions and education and, let's not forget, combat bonus pay, are the motivators, perhaps even for the poor the military doesn't seem like a flailing grab at the brass ring but rather simply a sound employment option). But for many, I think, Dr. Scott's statement inscribes an eerie timeline beginning not with the artillery round or the explosive charge set off by cell phone, but rather an entire lifetime in which individuals have essentially been warehoused for someone else's capital gain. Read the quote again, this time thinking about what lies unsaid, unsayable, in the space between the doctor's two sentences.

"These soldiers were kept alive," said Dr. Steven G. Scott, the Tampa center's director. "Now it's up to us to try and give them some meaningful life."


yeah, don't forget retirement and health benefits, things that the rest of americans will never see.

Your point about 'some kind of meaningful life' applies much further across the medical field I would imagine. I see this happening with all of my older relatives for instance - the space between medical possibility of life and the potential to 'live' a life with such severe limitations. Obv. there are a lot of housing and mental health issues, 'soft issues' that are lifelong that need to be refocused when talking about rehabilitation and therapy after any kind of accident/medical problem. Why don't they tell us THAT in high school, instead of making people carry around stupid flour sacks?

very true. god (or whoever) bless hospice care, which at least gives us meaningful deaths. for those of us with health insurance, anyway.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)