Injured soldiers overlooked

A Canadian soldier died in an Edmonton hospital on Saturday as a result of injuries suffered in Afghanistan two weeks prior.

A Canadian soldier died in an Edmonton hospital on Saturday as a result of injuries suffered in Afghanistan two weeks prior.

Cpl. Darren James Fitzpatrick, 21, was wounded by an improvised explosive device on March 6.

He died surrounded by family at the University of Alberta Hospital.

He is the 141st Canadian soldier to lose his or her life since the Afghanistan mission began in 2002.

Ironically, had Fitzpatrick not died, there’s very little chance you would ever have heard anything about him. He would just be one of the many anonymous Canadian soldiers who have been injured by an explosion in Afghanistan.

One wonders why we hear so little about soldiers wounded in that far-away nation.

Is it because death is more serious than an injury, so the media and government officials just can’t be bothered with the wounded?

Or is it that it’s rather easy to glorify war by celebrating those who have been killed while injuries are messy and ugly?

In past wars, soldiers tended to get shot more often than blown up in explosions.

Of course, it wasn’t fun, but the injuries were probably generally less horrific than those resulting from the improvised explosive devices used by the enemy these days.

It’s sad to think of the Canadian soldiers who must be returning to this country maimed, disfigured and missing all sorts of body parts.

Unlike the soldiers who are killed, who tend to get a shout out from the prime minister, defence minister or governor-general, they are essentially overlooked.

Someday, after Canada’s involvement in this war ends in 2011, we’ll all likely learn the truth about the terrible injuries suffered by our troops overseas.

But, for now, out of sight is pretty much out of mind.

It’s amazing that Michelle Lang, the Calgary Herald reporter who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan, probably got way more publicity than all of Canada’s injured soldiers added together.

In a way it’s understandable — the media is naturally more interested in its own people — but it really doesn’t seem fair.

One can only hope that injured Canadian soldiers receive the best medical care available and that they are generously compensated for their service.

Unfortunately, some of them will have sustained devastating brain injuries and many of them will have been so physically incapacitated that they will never work again.

All of our soldiers — injured, dead and healthy — ought to be respected for their service in Afghanistan, even if the mission itself ultimately proves to be pointless and futile.

Unfortunately, until the mission is abandoned by the United Nations (even Prime Minister Stephen Harper has conceded there is no chance the West will win the war), the media and politicians will continue to glorify soldiers who die in Afghanistan.

And regrettably, the wounded will likely continue to be overlooked.

Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.