2008 Power List: 16. The Broken Soldier

Washington, UNITED STATES: US Army soldier Daniel Alderman, a single amputee of the 25th Infantry Division, tries on his prosthetic limb in the adjustment clinic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, 21 December 2006. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

Average Age: 31

The wounds you can see are only the start. When Iraq veteran Travis Twiggs, 36, shot his brother and then turned the gun on himself in May, the deaths were widely reported as examples of one of the disturbing by-products of the War on Terror: violence committed in the homeland by combat veterans. Four months before Twiggs' murder-suicide the New York Times reported that there were 121 cases in which Iraq or Afghanistan vets had been charged with homicide. One third of those killed were the veterans' spouses, girlfriends, children, or other relatives, and another quarter were fellow service members. Thirteen of the vets also killed themselves. The majority of those found to have post-traumatic stress disorder or other combat-induced mental illnesses were diagnosed only after they were behind bars. The military greenlights the return of most combat vets without a psych screening, meaning that the 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of marines who, according to a Pentagon task force, suffer psychological damage remain untreated until they're home. A reported 65,000 service members have already sustained physical or psychological wounds—or both—and with more and more troops serving second and even third deployments, their ranks seem sure to swell. So next time you read that caring for those injured vets over their lifetimes will run up to $700 billion, remember that's the least of the cost.


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