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September 10, 2010

Jeremy Lange’s “War At Home”: Wounded Warriors

The second post of Jeremy Lange’s War At Home series:

Camp LeJeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina. The Wounded Warrior Battalion East was set up to provide a place for wounded Marines to recover as they work through the issues of their injuries and wade through the paperwork involved with possible discharge or reassignment within the Marine Corps.

Jeremy reports that “with little to do and at times heavily medicated, many of the Marines in the Battalion spend much of their days at the Battalion sleeping.” The vulnerability and pain of these soldiers is heartbreaking, even though there is little surprise at their predicament. Acronyms like PTSD and IED have so entered our vocabulary that we don’t even need to spell out the words that the initials stand for any more.

“Corporal Luke Kirby was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq and suffers from PTSD and possible traumatic brain injury. Due to his injuries, he is no longer able to remember details such as how to get from place to place or appointments he made. He spent his last days as a Marine, before being medically discharged, working out in the battalion gym.”

The body can be repaired, physical strength rehabilitated. But what comes next?

“Corporal Bobby Joseph, who suffered serious injury when an IED exploded near his patrol in Iraq, sits in the recreation room of the Wounded Warrior Battalion.”

President Obama made a speech from the Oval Office ten days ago, in which he said, “At every turn, America’s men and women in uniform have served with courage and resolve. As commander in chief, I am proud of their service. Like all Americans, I am awed by their sacrifice, and by the sacrifices of their families.” He tried hard to balance a non-partisan “support the troops” message with fulfilling his goal of ending a war he didn’t support, or at least winding it down to a level of minimal casualties for the army that will remain in Iraq.

But the question neither he, nor anyone, can truly answer is if all this death and suffering was in vain.

–Alan Chin

PHOTOGRAPHS by JEREMY LANGE

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