By now, I suppose everyone has seen the ads for the Wounded Warrior Project. According to Wikipedia, the “Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) began when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq, took action to help others in need. What started as a program to provide comfort items to wounded service members has grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they recover and transition back to civilian life.”
Another important statistic is that the number of casualties caused by roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had reached more than 3,300 in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available. Many of the soldiers who receive aid from the Wounded Warrior Project come from the ranks of those who have been severely injured by IEDs in Afghanistan, particularly those who have lost limbs or suffered severe head injuries. A little research shows that there is a wide variety of non-profit organizations that exist to provide services to veterans. One would think, however, that the federally funded Veterans Administration would be the primary source of help for wounded members of our armed forces. A little more research seems to suggest that the VA isn’t doing a very good job of caring for wounded veterans – but that, perhaps, is a story for another time.
Some time ago I wondered, through this column, why the Army wasn’t making more extensive use of an old device from those distant days of World War II called a flail tank. Quoting again from Wikipedia, a flail “consists of a number of heavy chains, ending in fist-sized steel balls, (flails) that are attached to a horizontal, rapidly rotating rotor mounted on two arms in front of the vehicle. The rotor’s rotation makes the flails spin wildly and violently pound the ground. The force of a flail strike above a buried mine mimics the weight of a person or vehicle and causes the mine to detonate, but in a safe manner that does little damage to the flails or the vehicle.” It was also noted that even if a mine wasn’t detonated by the flail, it was often destroyed by the action of the spinning flails without detonating thus making the mine harmless.