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The dead are not the only casualties of Afghanistan conflict

By Terri Judd

For every soldier saluted as his coffin passes through Wootton Bassett, countless more have come home quietly to Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.

Since British troops deployed to Helmand, 1,282 have been wounded in action, of whom 378 suffered life-changing injuries.

While soldiers' deaths make national news, those injured alongside them often do not. Lance Corporal Tom Neathway, 25, from Worcester, lost both of his legs above the knee along with his left arm when he was blown up while serving with 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment in July 2008.

The British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association has 228 new members who are veterans of the conflict. Of these, 199 are amputees, 37 have lost two limbs and 12 three. A further 29 have lost the use of limbs or their eyesight. Many more endure gunshot or shrapnel wounds which need years of surgery and rehabilitation.

Like the death toll, the number of injured has been steadily rising, from 31 categorised as very serious or serious by the Ministry of Defence in the first year of the conflict, to 157 in 2009 and 62 for the first five months of 2010. With the help of Headley Court rehabilitation centre, all battle to try to return to active duty.

Belfast Telegraph


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