From "The Last Tour"
By William Finnegan
The New Yorker
Sept. 29 issue:
"Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense, is said to be considering making some P.T.S.D. sufferers eligible for the Purple Heart. Wounded veterans are symbolically popular figures, if individually painful, and sometimes frightening. Certainly, most politicians want to be associated with their cause. And yet the difficulty of maintaining the troop levels necessary for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has placed the Bush Administration at odds with veterans’ groups. All such organizations supported what became known as the New G.I. Bill, which would provide increased education benefits. The Administration opposed it, on the ground that the appeal of a college education might sap troop levels. John McCain, himself a veteran, agreed. Ultimately, at the end of June, President Bush signed a modified version of the bill.
In the Marine Corps, the Wounded Warrior Regiment, created in 2007, marks a step toward the assumption of longer-term institutional responsibility for casualties, both physical and mental. “Used to be, we met them at the hospital door, shook their hand, thanked them for their service, gave them a discharge, and said goodbye,” Colonel Greg Boyle, the regiment’s commander, told me. “Now it’s marine for life.” Boyle did not mean that there would always be a place, a job, for disabled marines but that his regiment would track them and offer support throughout their post-discharge lives. P.T.S.D. victims are among those for whom the regiment is designed."