Seven Members of Congress issued a letter this week charging that the Pentagon is systematically “under-reporting casualties in Iraq by only reporting non-fatal casualties incurred in combat.” They asked for a full accounting of the accurate numbers.
Their letter cited a CBS News report:
The Pentagon declined to be interviewed, instead sending a letter that contained information not included in published casualty reports. “More than 15,000 troops with so-called ‘non-battle’ injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq,” wrote the Department of Defense. John Pike, Director of GlobalSecurity.org told 60 Minutes in that segment that this uncounted casualty figure “would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of over 20, maybe 30,000.”
But that CBS report came in November 2004. Today, more than a year later, those numbers have risen significantly. This morning, Salon.com published details of an October ’05 Veterans Affairs report showing that 119,247 off-duty Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are receiving health care from the V.A.
[T]he statistics seem to show that a lot of those health problems are war-related. For example, nearly 37,000 have mental disorders, including nearly 16,000 who have been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder. Over 46,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan receiving benefits from the V.A. have musculoskeletal problems. These are all veterans who within the last four years were considered by the military to be mentally and physically fit enough to fight.
These men and women have suffered injuries that will impact them for the rest of their lives. The Bush calculation: better to have higher Iraq approval numbers than recognize their sacrifices.