"How well do we care for our wounded and impaired when they come home? For a country amid what President Bush calls a “long war,” the question has profound moral implications. We send young Americans to the world’s most unruly places to execute our national policies. About 50,000 service members so far have been banged up or burned, suffered disease, lost limbs or sacrificed something less tangible inside them. Schulze is an extreme example but not an isolated one, and such stories are raising concerns that the country is failing to meet its most basic obligations to those who fight our wars.
The question of after-action care also has strategic consequences. Iraq marks the first drawn-out campaign we’ve fought with an all-volunteer military. In practice, that means far fewer Americans are taking part in this war (12 percent of the total population participated in World War II, 2 percent in Vietnam and less than half of 1 percent in Iraq and Afghanistan). Already, the war has made it harder for the military to recruit new soldiers and more expensive to retain the ones it has. If we fall down in the attention we provide them, who’s to say volunteers will continue coming forward?"