A Moment's Remembrance, Please: Staff Sergeant José Pequeño
A US Marine Corps veteran and Army National Guardsman, Staff Sergeant José Pequeño returned to Iraq because he felt that would help some of his young Guardsmembers return home safely.
When an insurgent pitched a grenade into his Humvee while he was reporting a suicide bomber, the explosion killed the driver and took the lower left two lobes from his brain. In the more than three years since
he's undergone a dozen and a half surgeries, his mother and sister have given up home, job, college, friends and all else to stay with him -- and he has lived, despite his doctors' predictions and expectations.
In a on March 4th, Brig. Gen. Loree Sutton estimated that as many as 360,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered service-related brain injuries. Until now the Pentagon estimated that some 10,000 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq war had suffered brain traumas.
This Memorial Day, the Iraq war has claimed 4,300 US GIs. The war in Afghanistan has slain 1,154 US GIs. Coalition casualty counts are higher. "Enemy" casualty counts and the dead civilians slain in the wars are not, officially, available. Estimates suggest these numbers exceed one million human beings, though.
Iraq and Afghanistan are ," though. Of the injured GIs in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 10,000 are now in need of full-time caretakers; brain injuries (including concussions) number in excess of 350,000. Treatment for the combat-injured is literally rewriting the book on war, says JAMA.
Tomorrow, take a moment to remember those who came home far from whole.
Whether you believe in the war or not, the men and women who wear the uniforms of the US Armed Forces -- and especially those whose service has marked them as irrevocably physically as it has spiritually and psychically -- deserve a moment's remembrance.