Bill Berkowitz / The Smirking Chimp – 2019-02-04 01:34:32
Catastrophic Genital Injuries
Plague Afghanistan and Iraq War Veterans
Bill Berkowitz / The Smirking Chimp
(January 18, 2019) — Since the November 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, more then 2,400 soldiers have been lost and more than $900 billion has been spent on America’s longest war.
In addition to the enormous suffering inflicted upon the people’s of Afghanistan and Iraq, returning American Soldiers come back with injuries that will never be depicted in video games like “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” or those glittering advertisements aimed at luring young men and women into joining the military.
For veterans that are relatively physically sound there are numerous issues to deal with including PTSD, reintegrating back into society, and serious family issues.
For veterans whose physical lives were immeasurably 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 is a subset of veterans that are forced to deal with the loss of the most apparent symbol of manhood; the penis.
In an August 2018 report in TAU (Translational Andrology and Urology) titled “Military genitourinary injuries: past and present,”
Felicia L. Balzano and Steven J. Hudak take readers through the “changing trends in the diagnosis and management of GU [Genitourinary] injuries over the past century and introduce areas of innovation which could impact the care of casualties who sustain GU trauma in the future.”
During US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, a number of factors converged which ultimately resulted in the frequency of genital injuries increasing to a level never before reported in the history of war.
The majority of injuries sustained during these conflicts were caused by ground-based explosive mechanisms and frequently resulted in a unique injury pattern known as dismounted complex blast injury (DCBI), defined as blast injury to a dismounted troop resulting in multiple extremity amputations, pelvic fractures, and extensive genital/perineal wounds.
This complex injury pattern was not commonly reported in previous conflicts because of the high mortality of polytraumatic explosive injuries. Fortunately, a number of 21st century advances in combat casualty care (rapid casualty evacuation, tourniquet application, advanced resuscitation techniques, multidisciplinary damage control surgery) improved the survival of complex blast injury which in previous conflicts were uniformly fatal.
An unfortunate consequence of decreased mortality rates after complex blast injury was that an unprecedented number of US SMs survived to face the challenges of recovery from catastrophic genital injuries which in prior conflicts were not survivable.
As Dr. Seema Yasmin, a physician and former CDC epidemiologist, professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, and a staff writer for the Dallas News wrote in 2016:
“Surviving means repeat surgeries, re-imagining relationships and wondering if you’ll ever enjoy sex or have children. And while there are more conversations about brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in troops, experts and families say there’s not enough discussion about the men who return home with the most taboo of injuries.”
Between 2001 and 2013, more than 1,300 men serving in the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered injuries to the penis, testicles or urinary system, according to a report published in The Journal or Urology. More men are surviving because of better equipment and rapid medical intervention.
Reporting on the Journal of Urology‘s report (), The New York Times‘ Denise Grady wrote: “The number of cases is ‘unprecedented’ and the injuries ‘uniquely devastating’ because they can impair a man’s ability to have sex, father children or urinate normally.”
Grady added: “Most of the wounded men â€” 94 percent â€” were 35 or younger, in ‘their peak years of sexual development and reproductive potential,’ the report said, adding that the psychological toll was especially heavy in such young men,” putting them at high risk for suicide.
A dallasnews.com video pointed out that, “the average age of those injured is twenty-four, three out of four have injuries to the penis, scrotum or testicles, one-third had injuries that are classified as severe, eighty-four of them suffered severe injuries to the penis.”
In an article published in the November 2011 issue of Men’s Health magazine, the publication’s contributing editor Bob Drury wrote:
“The signature physical wound of the war in Afghanistan begins when you step on a homemade bomb. 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.”
The government has put a price on the penis.
“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.”
“Surviving means repeat surgeries, re-imagining relationships and wondering if you’ll ever enjoy sex or have children,” the DallasNews.com’s Dr. Seema Yasmin, reported, “And while there are more conversations about brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder in troops, experts and families say there’s not enough discussion about the men who return home with the most taboo of injuries.”
Dr. Steven J. Hudak, a surgeon and a lieutenant colonel at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, is one of the authors â€“ along with Judson C. Janak, Jean A. Orman and Douglas W. Soderdahl — of the Journal of Urology report. “Many of [the wounded] have been my patients,” he said. “We are trying to tell their story and display the burden of the problem.”
Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His Conservative Watch columns document the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.
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