Veteran #11-03021-133

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The Army veteran of combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq wasn’t named in a recent Department of Veterans Affairs’ inspector general’s investigation. So we’ll just refer to him by the IG report’s number. Plainly, he had a family who cared about him, and VA personnel who sometimes did their best – and sometimes didn’t.

It’s a tough report to read because its dry and clinical prose makes clear the huge challenges associated with tending to some vets back from war. But such language also masks the veteran’s intense pain, his family’s persistence, and how the nation, apparently, let him down. It’s also difficult to read because you get a sense early on how it is going to end:

Within 4 hours of discharge, the patient died. The County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy that concluded the cause of death was blunt injuries and the manner of death (accidental or suicide) could not be determined.

He was about 25. Veteran #11-03021-133’s death isn’t included among the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq, or the 1,913 who have died in Afghanistan. Perhaps it should be added to both.