As Raine noted yesterday, this is the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq to begin the "Warron Terra".
We'll get into some numbers below the fold, but the one that always does it for me is this:
March 20, 2003.
Javier was 19 months old. He was not quite home a year yet. (May 3.)
March 20, 2023.
Javier is turning 22 this summer. He's graduating from college in about six weeks. He may get married!
And we're still at war in Iraq.
That is true - despite official combat operations ending on December 9, 2021 - approximately 2,000 US troops remain in-country.
Perhaps worth noting - official combat operations in Germany ended on May 7, 1945. 78 years on, 35,000 US troops still remain there. Consider that US troops will likely still be in Iraq in the year 2099, if we follow the same model.
A long-running part of "Ask a Vet" during the heart of the conflict was the Cost of War
segment. Returning to the old reports, we find today's cost passing through:
$ 8, 425, 568, 000, 000. 00
Yes, that is 8.4 Billion
As the website notes, that is approximately 93.26 million every hour.
I think we could pay for a lot more useful things than war and killing with that amount, but I digress.
I'd leave that for us all to ponder, but since our roots are in the Iraq conflict, I would be remiss not to consider some actual veterans today. Of course, a subject near and dear to me - aviation.
When I was 18, I gave serious thought to entering the US Navy. I wanted to fly. But in my junior year of high school, I needed to get glasses...and that effectively torpedoed any chance I had to sit in the left-hand seat. In any case, looking at this next story suggests that I may have dodged a bullet. Yes, it's true I got cancer anyway, but my chances would have been higher
if my desired field had worked out.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pentagon study has found high rates of cancer among military pilots and for the first time has shown that ground crews who fuel, maintain and launch those aircraft are also getting sick.
The data had long been sought by retired military aviators who have raised alarms for years about the number of air and ground crew members they knew who had cancer. They were told that earlier military studies had found they were not at greater risk than the general U.S. population.
In its yearlong study of almost 900,000 service members who flew on or worked on military aircraft between 1992 and 2017, the Pentagon found that air crew members had an 87% higher rate of melanoma and a 39% higher rate of thyroid cancer, while men had a 16% higher rate of prostate cancer and women a 16% higher rate of breast cancer. Overall, the air crews had a 24% higher rate of cancer of all types.
The study showed ground crews had a 19% higher rate of brain and nervous system cancers, a 15% higher rate of thyroid cancer and a 9% higher rate of kidney or renal cancers, while women had a 7% higher rate of breast cancer. The overall rate for cancers of all types was 3% higher.
There was some good news reported as well. Both ground and air crews had far lower rates of lung cancer, and air crews also had lower rates of bladder and colon cancers.
The data compared the service members with the general U.S. population after adjusting for age, sex and race.
The Pentagon said the new study was one of the largest and most comprehensive to date. An earlier study had looked at just Air Force pilots and had found some higher rates of cancer, while this one looked across all services and at both air and ground crews. Even with the wider approach, the Pentagon cautioned that the actual number of cancer cases was likely to be even higher because of gaps in the data, which it said it would work to remedy.
The study “proves that it’s well past time for leaders and policy makers to move from skepticism to belief and active assistance,” said retired Air Force Col. Vince Alcazar, a member of the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, which had lobbied the Pentagon and Congress for help. Alcazar serves on the association’s medical issues committee.
The study was required by Congress in the 2021 defense bill. Now, because higher rates were found, the Pentagon must conduct an even bigger review to try to understand why the crews are getting sick.
I have friends that have been to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and in some cases multiple times. The latest Head Conductor here at the trolley is a veteran - and he's been to Iraq on multiple deployments.
It's deeply off-season for this sort of thing, but thanking a vet for their service is about as helpful as "thoughts and prayers" after a mass shooting.
The best way to honor service and sacrifice is to remember what President Lincoln said, and ensure that we live up to that promise.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
It is something that collectively as a nation, we have not done with any alacrity for a very long time.