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Phantoms

The term "Phantom Limb" refers to the sensation one feels long after an appendage has been amputated. The mind, in an effort to overcome the loss of so much sensory input, creates "ghost" sensations. Pains which plagued the limb can still seemingly be felt long after it is no longer there.

For US soldiers returning from Iraq, the lost of a limb is perhaps one of the most debilitating injuries to suffer. They are also sadly the most frequent, the end result of devastating IED blasts which in an instant can turn healthy flesh into mangled carnage.

And as has happened all to often in this war, such individuals are all but ignored. In some cases they are even intentionally kept hidden, kept to the shadows so that we may never truly see the toll this war has wrought on our fellow citizen soldiers.

Another group that have been ignored have been the Iraqi amputees. Yet their numbers have continued to grow to such a degree that there is shortage of adequate care available to them.
Iraq is facing a hidden healthcare and social crisis over the soaring number of amputations, largely of lower limbs, necessitated by the daily explosions and violence gripping the country.

In the north of Iraq, the Red Crescent Society and the director general for health services in Mosul have told US forces, there is a requirement for up to 3,000 replacement limbs a year. If that estimate is applied across the country, it suggests an acute and looming long-term health challenge that has been largely ignored by the world.

We ignore all those who suffer in this war at our peril. For in doing so we risk losing the one thing that should never become a "phantom" sensation: our humanity.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

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