Increase in Veteran Amputations in 2011

17 Feb 2012

New data from the Pentagon shows that more veterans suffered amputations of limbs in 2011, then any other year since the September 11 attacks.

The number of veterans who suffered loss of limbs increased from 196 in 2010 to 240 in 2011. This number in 2011 was also an increase from the previous high, which was 205 cases in 2007. California veterans benefits lawyers found that most of those cases occurred during the controversial Iraq surge.

The 240 veterans who suffered amputations in 2011 lost at least one limb, and the Marine Corps suffered the most casualties. A total of 129 Marines suffered amputations in the year 2011. In the Army, there were 100 amputations cases in 2011. Additionally, there were 6 sailors and 5 airmen who suffered amputations.

According to the military, the increase in amputations could be because of the current surge in Afghanistan. It could also be due to an increased use of road patrols in those areas in the country where insurgency is rife.

However, military officials say that this increase in amputations should be seen in a different light. According to them, in previous wars, soldiers suffering an amputated limb would have died from their injuries and from the blood loss. Survival rates for these persons were very low. However, with advances in medical technology, access to better medical care in the battlefield, better medical treatment as well as protective gear, more soldiers now survive serious injuries like amputations. Earlier, the alternative for these veterans would have been death.

The military believes that an increase in severe injuries merely means that more troops are surviving these serious injuries due to better protective measures than before. For instance, the military has been using groin protective gear, ensuring that injuries to this area, which were previously fatal, can now be survived.