The Unmentionable: Land Mines Emasculating US Troops

November 24th, 2011 - by admin

Bill Berkowitz / Buzzflash at Truthout – 2011-11-24 02:38:20

The Unmentionable:
Land Mines in Afghanistan Sexually Mutilate US Troops

(November 22, 2011) — Just prior to Veterans Day, the release of the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” raked in $310 million in sales for Activision Blizzard Inc. in its first 24-hours, setting a first-day sales record. Along with the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” video game, there are other items for sale including t-shirts and hoodies.

America’s real-life veterans are facing struggles that are unlikely to ever be depicted in any video game.

Leading up to this year’s Veterans Day observances there were a bunch of stories in the media about the problems current veterans are facing as they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan. For veterans that are physically intact, a host of problems still exist; integrating back into society, coping with myriad family issues; finding employment; dealing with not-so-obvious PTSD issues.

For veterans whose physical lives were immensely altered by combat, they have all of the above and an additional set of challenges involving the loss of limbs and severe brain disorders. And, within this group, are a subset of veterans forced to deal with the loss of the most apparent symbol of manhood; ones penis.

“The signature physical wound of the war in Afghanistan begins when you step on a homemade bomb,” Men’s Health contributing editor Bob Drury writes in the November 2011 edition of the magazine. “Most of these are built with the fertilizer ammonium nitrate, an ingredient widely available throughout Afghanistan. The detonation, triggered either by a buried pressure plate or, less often, a command wire operated by a nearby enemy, instantly pulverizes the flesh, bone, tissue, and muscle of one or both of your lower limbs.

“In all likelihood, the force of the explosion will sever the nerves in your leg or legs, and yet you will experience little pain. Surprisingly, as shock sets in and you lie in your pooling blood, you may not feel anything but a vague sense of pressure, as if a strong man were wrapping both hands around one of your calves and squeezing as hard as he could.

“In many cases, the force of the explosion also travels straight up into your genital and pelvic area, blasting tiny shards of rock and dirt into your torso between your front and rear Kevlar body-armor flaps,” Drury continued. “If all or part of your ‘package’ is not blown off by the detonation itself, the flying debris from the blast often penetrates soft tissue, leaving you vulnerable to penile, scrotal, testicular, and rectal infections. If the damage is bad enough, it could even lead to a full or partial amputation of your genitals.”

Although many believe that the war in Afghanistan is winding down, ironically, “In 2010, the number of US troops … who lost at least one limb was double that of either 2008 or 2009, according to casualty data compiled by surgeons at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a US military hospital in Germany,” Drury pointed out.

Unless you work in a dangerous occupation or a workplace where body parts of all type may be lost, you’ve likely never contemplated the question: How much is a penis worth? Perhaps the only institution that has quantified the value of a penis is the military. Yes, penises, like other body parts actually have a specific monetary value, or to put it more professionally, an actuarial value.

“The number of severe genital wounds has tripled,” Drury reports, “causing Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs official to scramble to review insurance packages that assess, for instance, the value of a severed thumb at $50,000 but assign no dollar value on damage to a penis or testicles,” although the affected person “may receive disability payments for a genital injury, if the VA deems it serious enough.”

In short, there have never been so many injuries to the penis and testicles as is being seen in Afghanistan John B. Holcomb, M.D. a trauma surgeon, told Men’s Health‘s Drury.

According to Drury, Ronald Glaser, M.D., a man who served as a doctor in Vietnam and has studied the psychological and physical trauma of war for his recent book, Broken Bodies, Shattered Minds: A Medical Odyssey from Vietnam to Afghanistan, has found “that during the Vietnam there were 2.4 US troops injured for every death. In Afghanistan, current Department of defense numbers yield a ratio of 8 to 1 — largely a result of improved combat medical treatment.”

In fact, “the percentage of all our servicemen and women in Afghanistan who have lost limbs could be equal or greater than the percentage of limb loss that occurred as a result of the Civil War,” Glaser told Drury.

“You can’t get your legs blown off without suffering genital and/or perineum injuries,” says Glaser. And accompanying these kinds of injuries are infections. And then there’s the questions about these injuries are to be treated.

“Take testosterone,” Glaser said. “You need it. For maintaining muscle mass. For sexual desire. A lot of these kids with damaged or lost testicles are looking at a lifetime of hormone treatments. Yet each patient has different dosage needs. How much should you give them? Well, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

And because these medical issues are relatively new, “Nobody knows how to do this yet,” Glaser added. “But I’ll tell you one thing. We’re going to have to learn pretty quickly. That’s one thing wars do — turn medical techniques honed on the battlefield into standard civilian medical practice.”

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