Last month, the US marked five years in Iraq with the tragic news of 4,000 service members killed in the war zone. But the 4,000 U.S. deaths are only part of the story.
In addition to the deaths, the devastating facts about the war continue to leak out. On the night of April 8, in an effort to conceal bad news from the public and press, the Department of Defense quietly released their new U.S. service member battlefield casualty statistics from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: 74,713.
Veterans for Common Sense vigilantly monitors these statistics for our members by checking for new DoD casualty reports about Iraq and Afghanistan at the beginning of the month, based on a Freedom of Information Act request we sent in nearly two years ago.
DoD prepares one report for Iraq War casualties and one for Afghanistan war casualties and posts them to a hard-to-find web site. VCS then combines the statistics in easy-to-read fact sheets for distribution to our members, the public, journalists, and our lawmakers. VCS obtained the difficult-to-find DoD web site address for the reports through the Freedom of Information Act.
The sad news: the total number of casualties from both wars reached nearly 75,000, where casualty is defined as killed, wounded, injured, and ill. The Afghanistan War caused more than 9,000 casualties to date. And the Iraq War quagmire caused more than 65,000. The DoD casualty reports document more than 70,000 total non-fatal casualties, plus nearly 4,500 deaths, from the two war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, for a grand total of 74,713 U.S. service member battlefield casualties.
The story line America should know is very simple: “DoD Reports 75,000 Casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.” VCS thanks former Senator John Edwards for his recent letter to the Editor published in The New York Times highlighting the sacrifices being made daily by our men and women in uniform.
The obvious follow up to this devastating news is that VA reports 300,000 unexpected patients from the two wars, including more than 120,000 diagnosed with a mental health condition. No wonder all our veterans are waiting, on average, more than six months for VA to provide disability benefits.
We strongly encourage our members to share this with friends, relatives, reporters, legislators, civic groups, and everyone else you know. We all have a right to know the facts, and our veterans have a right to prompt access to healthcare and benefits.
All of America is familiar with the fact that yesterday General David Petraeus testified before Congress about the “fragile” state of the Iraq War. Petraeus tried to put a happy face on a lost war to keep a lid on the fiasco through the 2008 election season. What America needs to know is that a tidal wave of casualties are returning home, and we must welcome them home and prepare for their long-term medical care and disability benefit needs.
GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR CASUALTY REPORT SOURCES:
In order to determine the total number of battlefield casualties, add up the counts for both wars for the following three categories: Total Deaths, Total Wounded in Action, Total Non-Hostile-Related Medical Air Transport.
Link to Official Department of Defense Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF) Casualty Report: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/OIF-Total.pdf
Link to Official DoD Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) Casualty Report: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/WOTSUM.pdf