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Psychological Effects On War Amputees Research Paper

1911 words - 8 pages

Pain. Suffering. Loss. These are some characteristics attributed to war amputees returning home. While some veterans can cope with the loss of a limb or multiple limbs, the overall effects for the majority of returning soldiers is devastating. By exploring different cases from the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, many ethical issues can be addressed. The main issue is the psychological impact of amputation, as it pertains not only to the affected soldier, but his or her family as well. Improved medical advancements may have increased survival rates and the amount of technology, but these improvements raise new questions. Are the responses appropriate, or is there a certain point where a person ...view middle of the document...

These additional growths interfere with prosthetics and may lead to more operations. Many American soldiers currently fighting in the Iraq War have suffered this effect due to the implementation of improvised explosive devices (Amputation 1). Kimberly Dozier, a Middle East-based correspondent for CBS News, happened to be with her crew when a car bomb detonated near them on a Baghdad street on May 29, 2006. Her, along with six other soldiers, were critically wounded. After having her right leg amputated, she developed heterotopic ossification and had to wait for nine months for the bone to stop growing, so she could have muscle cut through and the bone to be carved out. She went through extreme pain and hurt, which could have been lessened had more money been donated to medical advancements and reducing infections (Dozier 1-3).
Coupled with numerous side effects, war amputees have many psychological effects due to amputations. For instance, Vietnam Veterans who were wounded are more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder. Suicide rates rise rapidly. In a group of war amputees studied, the suicide rate was thirty-seven percent higher than the general population. In addition to the actual war and the amputation causing psychological effects, low levels of appreciation for the amputees’ hard work and the handicaps they must now live with, has added to suicide rates. Vietnam veterans especially were treated with a hatred that should not have been targeted towards the individual soldiers (Bullman and Kang 1-3).
It is difficult to truly comprehend what going to war is like without personal experience (Puller 66). Lewis B. Puller, Jr., a Vietnam Veteran, wrote an autobiography of his encounters during war and what his life was like after becoming an amputee. He states that not only was he no longer able to walk again, but he had “nightmares about his wounding in Vietnam, daytime horrors of feeling that he had been ‘used up and discarded,’ and a growing dependence on alcohol” (Puller 15). After dealing with multiple unsuccessful surgeries, he finally received the proper treatment and went into rehabilitation. The work and effort needed to grow stronger was very difficult and initially seemed impossible to Puller, but he worked hard in order to make his life as best as possible (Puller 214-220). Like many soldiers, Puller questioned his feelings about the war, saying, “I had to smile, but beneath the smile I realized that we both were searching for any evidence that might validate our war experience and the terrible beating we had taken” (Puller 222). Even though he may have been able to improve later on in life, the initial shock of the war and amputation caused changes in Puller that he would rather forget (Puller 364).
Iraq may be a modern war, but the amount of amputees is still extremely large. Michael Weisskopf, the author of Blood Brothers, is a war amputee from Iraq and recounts the experiences of himself, as well as...

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