NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • The Untold Story of American Soldiers Wounded in Afghanistan


    Journalist Ann Jones discusses her new book: "How the Wounded Return from America's Wars - The Untold Story" -   November 11, 13
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter



    I support The Real News Network because it cured my vertigo from all the spinning by Fox and MSNBC. - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Ann Jones is a journalist, photographer (Getty Images), and the author of eight books of nonfiction, including Women Who Kill, Next Time She’ll Be Dead, Kabul in Winter, and War Is Not Over When It’s Over. She has reported on the impact of war in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, and embedded with American forces in Afghanistan. She regularly writes for The Nation and TomDispatch.com.  Her new book is They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars—The Untold Story (Haymarket Books).

    Transcript

    The Untold Story of American Soldiers Wounded in AfghanistanJAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in Baltimore.

    On this Veterans Day, the day America honors those who have served, we speak with the author of a newly released book that documents the toll that war takes on American soldiers. They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars--The Untold Story is a harrowing firsthand account from the trenches and mountains of Afghanistan, the culmination of over a decade of reporting from the front lines of America's longest war.

    Now joining us is the book's author, Ann Jones. She's a journalist, photographer, the author of eight books, including Women Who Kill and Kabul in Winter.

    Thank you so much for joining us, Ann.

    ANN JONES, JOURNALIST, PHOTOGRAPHER, AUTHOR: Thank you for inviting me.

    NOOR: So, Ann, the war in Afghanistan's gone on for for over a decade now. It's winding down. It's sort of out of sight, out of mind for perhaps most Americans. Why did you choose to write this book now?

    JONES: I had been in Afghanistan off and on since 2002, reporting from there and working with Afghan women. And over the course of time working with civilians there, I had to deal with people in the American military. And as the war went on and on and on and I realized how clueless the military really was about Afghanistan and what the country and the culture was all about, I became more and more interested in what the experience of being in that war must must be doing to the soldiers.

    And when I went to a forward base to cover the formation of what the military called a female engagement team because of my longstanding interest in women, I was thrust into a whole battalion of soldiers. And I could see them kind of disintegrating on the spot, and many were killed and wounded while I was there. And that's when I decided I needed to follow that story and find out what happened to them, because they just--they would go off in a medical evacuation helicopter and never be seen again on the base, and much later in the U.S. papers we would read these stories of soldiers who had made this miraculous recovery and were out skiing on their prosthetic legs, and it made it all sound so simple and like such a relatively small sacrifice to have made to be engaged in a thoroughly pointless war. And I was sure there was more to the story than that. And indeed there is.

    NOOR: So, Ann, you open your book with a harrowing account of your experience being embedded with a medevac unit. Can you talk a little more about that and the little-known division of the military known as Mortuary Affairs? How and why are the dead being kept hidden from both the public as well as other soldiers?

    JONES: Well, it's very important, of course, to keep the dead from the other soldiers, who have to get up the next morning or the next night and go out and go through the same routines again that they were doing when their dead colleagues put a foot in the wrong place. So every unit or every squad has a Mortuary Affairs unit attached to it, every battalion. And that's a group of usually very young people. Many of the soldiers assigned to work in Mortuary Affairs are kids right out of high school. And their job is to pick up the remains of the dead. And, of course, in Afghanistan, where we're engaged in a war of explosive devices, many of the dead are no longer in one piece. Many are in multiple pieces. Many have been vaporized. It's the responsibility of the Mortuary Affairs kids to go out there and gather up these fallen soldiers and try to put them back together, or at least get the pieces into the same box to be flag-draped and shipped home to the families. And the Mortuary Affairs people are also responsible for getting together the property of the dead soldier, sorting through that, packing that up nicely, and sending it back to mom and dad or to the wife at home. This is a very, very grim job, and also a very isolating one, because other soldiers who know what members of the unit do don't want to have much of anything to do with them. And, in fact, as those who work in Mortuary Affairs will tell you themselves, they start to smell like the dead they work with. And nobody wants them around. The aftereffects on the members of these units are terrible--terrible.

    NOOR: And you actually tracked what happens to soldiers after they get injured. It's just the beginning of a much longer process. Can you describe what you saw in Afghanistan?

    JONES: Well, the process of getting a wounded soldier from Afghanistan back to the United States is a series of medevac flights from one hospital to the next, each to a higher level of trauma care. And surgeries are performed on an ongoing basis. It's called damage-control surgery. And this is applied to the most severely wounded soldiers, those who have lost limbs and been otherwise severely damaged. And they are taken from field stations, medevaced again in Afghanistan to Heathe Hospital at Bagram Airbase, the main base in Afghanistan. And at that hospital, the surgeries begin to try to clean up the wounds, prevent infection, stabilize the system of the wounded soldier sufficiently, so that he or she can be shipped on to the next level of care, which is at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, which is the largest American hospital outside the United States. And there the same processes continue, a continuing series of operations to clean and disinfect wounds, while at the same time saving as much of the soldier as they can, so that the doctors higher up the line have as much as possible to work with. One soldier is stabilized in Landstuhl, which could take from 24 hours to two or three days, the soldier is taken off on another medevac plane, always with a team of critical care doctors and nurses surrounding them, and delivered to Dover airbase in Dover, Delaware, and from there transported by ambulance to Walter Reed, which at the time I did this story in 2011 was still in Washington, D.C., but is now part of the larger facility at Bethesda. And some of those medical evacuation flights also go to Brooke army medical center in Texas. These final destinations are the highest level of trauma care that exists, and the processes still continue for months or years while a soldier becomes well enough to begin the process of rehabilitation. That's a long process involving the fitting of prosthetic devices and the practice, the excruciatingly painful practice of the veterans in trying to learn to use the prosthetic devices that will be with them for the rest of their lives. And that can go on for a couple of years at the hospital, or longer in the case of many soldiers who have lost three or four limbs, triple or quadruple amputees, of whom there are many.

    NOOR: So, Ann, we're going to continue this discussion in part two. But before we end part one, you know, throughout your book and as you share your own experiences and the experiences of other soldiers, you write a compelling case to oppose war, especially the war in Afghanistan. But how do you respond to critics that say that these soldiers signed up for war, they knew what they were getting into, and that an active military in the United States is necessary to protect our freedoms? How would you respond to critics that make those type of arguments?

    JONES: Well, first of all let me say that I don't make a case against the war in my book. I am simply observing. I'm trying to be a witness to the scenes of what happens to these soldiers, because that has not been witnessed by Americans. We haven't been allowed to see that.

    But when you read the book, it comes out as a case against war, because nobody can bear for very long to look at the kinds of things that I've seen.

    But as to the question of well, they signed up for it, many signed up for it because they come from a family history of soldiering. It's the family occupation, and they feel obliged to carry it on. Others, of course, are, as we know from some of the poorest families and circumstances in the country, they're kids who basically see very little other opportunity to change their future and to become--to fulfill ambitions that they have to be more than they can be in their own hometown.

    And in any case, the military, the Pentagon, employs so many highly skilled public relations agencies to churn out the message of how wonderful and glorious it is to be a soldier and to make this heroic sacrifice for the nation that kids, from the time they're very little kids, are playing with guns, are seeing the soldier stories, are aspiring to be soldiers. I have just heard from someone who's going to--who has written me, a veteran of the Gulf War, whose kids, two boys, want to grow up to be soldiers. And no matter how much he tries to tell them that they shouldn't do that, they don't believe their dad. They believe the public relations. It's everywhere in this country. And it's a deceit. It is a real deceit. And the soldiers, no matter what they do when they enlist, do not get the full story from the recruiters by any means. So they drink the recruiters' Kool-Aid, and it turns out to be a poisonous brew. And when they get into the field, they see that. But by that time there isn't any way for them to get out of it. I give them a lot of credit for trying to make the best of what they've gotten into, but there are plenty of them who know that it was a big mistake.

    NOOR: Ann Jones, thank you so much for joining us for the first part of this discussion.

    JONES: Thank you.

    NOOR: Go to TheRealNews.com for part two of this discussion. Thank you so much for joining us.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting