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Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Iraq war from a rehabilitationist's view

We hear that this war is nudging towards costing one trillion US dollars and has already cost over 2,500 young American lives. But this is not even half of the story. At least 50,000 innocent Iraqi citizens have also lost their lives. Some might excuse the lack of concern about this carnage of innocents because these people wear funny clothes. But I'm not buying that.

Let’s talk injury prevention
Back in the good old days when I was a safety consultant with ACC, we had a simple rule of thumb for calculating injuries and deaths by accidents. For each accidental death, it was calculated there would be 10 serious disabling injuries and about 30 less severe ones.

So let’s apply this formula to Iraq:

2,500 dead US soldiers means

  • 25,000 young Americans have been physically maimed for life
  • 75,000 physically injured; but likely to fully recover

50,000 dead Iraq civilians means

  • 5000,000 maimed for life
  • 1,500,000 physically injured but likely to recover

These are just the physical injuries. More difficult to calculate is the lasting psychological trauma of war. I will not even attempt to go there.

People with serious physical injuries cost several million dollars each over their lifetimes. Add this to the cost of the war. While we see emotional news footage of the maimed lying in hospitals, what we fail to see is the lifelong impact these terrible injuries have on these people, their families and their communities.

Why not take a quiet moment now and spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of people who have so far lost a leg, half a brain, an arm, an eye, their face, their family …..

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