Sunday, February 11, 2007

Perspective: U.S. to bear long-term cost of troops injured in Iraq

Mariela Mason

As Sgt. Mariela Mason lay in a coma with grave brain damage, military doctors suggested that her parents might want to end her life.

"They said, 'She's going to be a veggie for the rest of her life; she has no chance,' " recalled Mason's mother, Lisette Meylan. "I was not a happy camper that day." More than two years later, the former Army truck driver is awake and recovering from her Iraq war injuries.

Around-the-clock care at military and Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and treatment by private therapists have given her a chance. But she remains severely disabled and probably will need extensive VA care for years, if not the rest of her life.

Her story illustrates the long-term cost - in dollars as well as broken bodies - of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Caring for and compensating troops who return with wounds, injuries or illnesses is the price the nation has just begun to pay.

Read the rest at the Denver Post