Polk Awards Add to Debate Over Treatment of Vets

By: E&P Staff

The series of articles in The Washington Post starting last Sunday about some horrific conditions for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center has inspired anger and debate. In a coincidence, the George Polk Awards were announced in the middle of it on Tuesday, and three of the winners were honored for work related to problems for military personnel.

Will Bunch, senior reporter at The Philadelphia Daily News and popular blogger there, observed at his Attytood site last night that “three out of the 12 winners, amazingly, were for stories that chronicled mistreatment or abuse or unnecessary risk to Americans fighting in Iraq — along the lines of the Walter Reed story, yet arguably worse in some cases, because in these instances young men and women actually died.”

Excerpts from his blog posting follow, the entire entry found at the address at the bottom.

Read through these award-winning stories, and you’ll be as baffled as I am over how a great nation can neglect or mistreat its own soldiers in this fashion.

— The George Polk Award for military reporting went to Hartford Courant reporters Lisa Chedekel and Matthew Kauffman for a four-part expos?, ?Mentally Unfit, Forced to Fight,? that “detailed the high rate of suicide among American troops and the lackluster mental health screening and treatment offered by the military.”…. The authors found 11 stunning cases of soldiers who were sent to Iraq despite clear signs of psychological stress, and who ended up killing themselves:

— The George Polk Award for medical reporting went to Robert Little, a national correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. His three-part series, ?Dangerous Remedy,? investigated the use of an experimental, blood-coagulating drug, Recombinant Activated Factor VII, in more than 1,000 soldiers. The drug has been linked to lethal blood clots.

Little reported: “The U.S. Army medical command considers Factor VII to be a medical breakthrough in the war, giving frontline physicians a powerful new means of controlling bleeding that can only be treated otherwise with surgery and transfusions. They have posted guidelines at military field hospitals encouraging its liberal use in casualties with severe bleeding, and doctors in Iraq routinely inject it into patients upon the mere anticipation of deadly bleeding to come….

“Meanwhile, doctors at military hospitals in Germany and the United States have reported unusual and sometimes fatal blood clots in soldiers evacuated from Iraq, including unexplained strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs. And some have begun to suspect Factor VII…

— The George Polk Award for network television reporting went to NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers and producer Adam Ciralsky. They won for exposing “a secret effort by the United States Army to scuttle a promising technology designed to protect soldiers from rocket-propelled grenades, or RPGs.”

If these stories don’t get your blood boiling, nothing will….
We look forward to reading some great journalism in 2007, but we can’t bear to see one more story about the mistreatment of American troops.

Attytood: http://www.attytood.com


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