A bit of a debate had started in the comments section with another reader about whether combat injuries are more “excruciating” today than in wars past, and the writer was kind enough to stop by and leave a message:
What Chuck said [about the article being about more injured soldiers surviving and needing long-term pain care] was exactly what I intended to say, with apologies for my probably muddled syntax. And the doctors at Walter Reed — who, you know, have a lot of experience in dealing with combat injuries — told me that because the bullets from the latest generation of weapons are designed to fly faster than the ones employed in previous wars, they shatter bones more extensively and create a form of injury known as “massive soft-tissue derangement” which is indeed particularly painful if you survive.
First off, I am flattered that the writer (assuming it’s really him–but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt) took the time to read and comment on MO.
Second of all, I’m certainly not saying that more soldiers aren’t surviving and needing long-term medical care. Not at all, and I tried to make that clear in my original post and in the comments. I agree that this is certainly a problem that deserves more attention, and I support anything that can help our wounded veterans in any way.
Thirdly, the article is very interesting and informative. Certainly beyond my real comprehension, which is why I merely pointed it out rather than dug into it.
Lastly, however, is the issue of wound from today’s wars being more “excruciating” than those of previous conflicts. I don’t doubt for one minute the pain that today’s wounded suffer (despite the fact that “massive soft tissue derangement” returns exactly zero google hits). Add to that the facts that I’ve never been wounded in battle and that I have no experience as a medic or doctor and I’m demonstrably un-equipped to share my opinion.
I’d just like to point out that the primary small-arms used in the current war are the exact same ones (with only minor incremental improvements) used in wars going back to Vietnam, as are the RPGs. As for so-called, IEDs, they’re by their very nature “mundane” in a military and technological sense. So I fail to see the differences between these injuries and those.
Maybe I’m just splitting hairs. After all, I don’t disagree with the subject of the article at all. And I certainly mean no disrespect to the doctors and the patients of today’s wars. There just seems to be a fair amount of writing out there that tries to make what’s going on today seem like some strange new, terrible world when it’s not. It’s the same old, terrible world.
In any event, I commend the doctors and researchers who are working hard to make our wounded vets more comfortable and I thank Mr. Silberman for his excellent article (besides that one part) and for taking the time to contact me.