Pentagon slow to address needs of genitally-mutilated G.I's from Afghanistan
In the Afghanistan conflict, countless American servicemen lost arms and
legs to landmines. The Pentagon is quick to adjust to the needs of
these enlisted men, with prosthesis and wheelchairs. However - many of
these same servicemen had their genitalia destroyed as well, leaving
them to return to civilian life without the prospect of raising
families. This, however, is about to change -
Dubbed by some as 'blast boxers,' 165,000 pairs of Kevlar-reinforced briefs to Afghanistan along with 45,000 sets of armored over-garments designed to blunt the impact of shrapnel and blast on the lower torso.
Since 2005, at least 1,875 American troops have suffered genital wounds, including 51 so far this year, among the 34,440 American battle casualties caused by roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to recent Defense Department lists over 3,000 dead and 31,394 wounded through the month of May.
The Pentagon has decided it will not provide some critical reproductive health benefits. This comes as grim news to a growing number of young Americans wounded in combat and unable to produce sperm who had wanted to start a family. In one recent U.S. military study, the average age of those with genital wounds was 24 years. The majority of those in military service -- 56 percent -- are married.
Most of those who suffer genital wounds also lose one or more limbs to IED blast. The loss of sexual function is only compounded by the difficulties of adapting to life as an amputee with prosthetic limbs or a wheelchair.
The compensation policies of the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs are often infuriating. The VA pays up to $100,000 to the severely wounded to compensate for loss of income and to help finance adapting their home to wheelchairs and other needs. Late last year, the VA also agreed to pay up to $50,000 for damage to or loss of genitals in combat.
For wounded warriors and their spouses, many of whom are unemployed and without significant income, the issue of financing a family adds to the other issues they struggle with.
In order to prevent further genital wounds as Mark experienced, the Pentagon last fall rushed 165,000 pairs of Kevlar-reinforced briefs to Afghanistan along with 45,000 sets of armored over-garments designed to blunt the impact of shrapnel and blast on the lower torso.
The briefs have since only had limited benefit. One unpublished study found that for those injured by IEDs, 33 percent of those wearing the protective garments suffered partial or complete destruction of the testicles, compared to 46 percent of those who were not wearing protection.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Afghanistan, Iran, landmines, genital mutilation, kevlar briefs
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