Monday, July 14, 2008

“The City of Broken Men”

I read an article from the July GQ magazine yesterday (not my usual reading material, my wife saw the article at the spa at which she works). The article was about the military hospital, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and the work they do there. The article should be required reading for every American.

Every soldier injured severely enough to leave their units in Iraq or Afghanistan go through that hospital in Germany. They do incredible work there. The article centers on one injured soldier who had his leg blown off, in telling the story of the medical center, its staff, and its work.

Two things in the article really grabbed me. They drove home to me the enormity of this side of the war. The enormity of which we regular citizens don’t see, don’t hear about, don’t know enough about. As the author points out it is and enormity that will affect us as a nation and as people for a long time to come.

The soldier the article focuses on is “more or less the 44,360th person hurt badly enough to be evacuated out of Iraq or Afghanistan”. 44,360th and that was months ago.

And then the article’s thought provoking closing:
“We can send you to a broiling desert across the world to fight precision battles in a country you know nothing about; and we can beam you up when you’re hurt and put you down in the middle of Germany, rebuild your leg, get you free cheese and $50,000. But there are some things we just can’t do. And what it is we couldn’t save Mike Brown from what he’ll find out next [back home].”

What we do for all the Mike Brown’s into the future is our challenge as well.

[“The City of Broken Men” by Devin Friedman, GQ, July, 2008]


gayle said...

I recently found out about a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that assits severely injured service men and women by building or adapting existing homes for handicapped accessiblity. Their web site is

This seems to be a much better way of supporting the troops than just slapping a support our troops magnet on your car.

Anonymous said...

As a staff member at Landstuhl, I found that GQ article the best summary of life there of anything I've read. The author captured the essence of the place...the calluses we develop to cover the sadness we feel every day as we deal with the non-stop parade of wounded was described quite well. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've told all my friends and relatives about it, and was just "googling" when I saw your blog.