The Canadian Forces is not tracking how many of its soldiers are suffering from service-related hearing loss and traumatic brain trauma, two of the so-called signature injuries of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Wait, not tracking the two biggest groups of injuries our soldiers suffer? That can't be... oh.
Forces members are examined for a variety of possible injuries in theatre and when they return from a deployment, but the data in most cases is contained in a paper record that goes into individual files.
But it's not like anyone else bothers to keep these kinds of... oh.
Unlike the British and American militaries, which have better means of tracking conditions affecting their troops, the Canadian Forces has yet to implement computerized programs that can digitally compile information and point to any trends for certain injuries.
Surely the Forces are looking after the troops once they come home, though, right? ...oh.
To test for hearing loss at home, military doctors have to rely on antiquated 1970s-vintage audiometres for which replacement parts are not being made and can produce only a paper document.
But how big a problem is it, really? ...oh.
[T]he numbers of troops indicating mild traumatic brain injuries could range up to 20 per cent, but... most wouldn't likely have long-term problems.
Kind of hard to say that when you don't even have decent records of the incidence of the injuries, isn't it? And that doesn't exactly reflect the latest research on the subject, either.
But the problem isn't even short-term treatment -- it's dealing with a veteran who shows up in 10 years' time, complaining about problems with memory, balance, irritability and concentration. Think the piece of paper in a DND filing cabinet is going to help that person out? Yeah, I've got some doubts myself.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: we haven't even begun to pay for our adventure in Afghanistan -- and pay we will, make no mistake.
The question is whether our country is going to pay up front with the dollars and political will needed to really take care of our military, or whether we're going to let the men and women involved pay with their physical and mental health, their destroyed marriages and families, their substance addictions, and their high suicide rates.
Red shirts and yellow ribbons aren't going to fucking cut it.