Scott Ostrom served four years as a reconnaissance Marine, deploying for two tours in Iraq. Now 27 years old, he suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since being honorably discharged from the military he has struggled to maintain healthy relationships or keep a steady job. But the most difficult thing for him has been coping with his chilling memories of Iraq, and what they mean for him going forward:
The most important part of my life already happened. The most devastating... Nothing is ever going to compare to what I've done, so I'm struggling to be at peace with that.Craig Walker of the Denver Post is set to receive a Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography for his photo essay, entitled "Welcome Home," which documents Scott Ostrom's life as a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The photos, and accompanying captions, provide a sobering reminder that the cost of war is measured in more than lives, dollars and poll numbers. I encourage readers to view the photo essay here.
As of April 2012, 6,422 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and 47,545 have been injured in combat. Countless more, including Scott Orstrom, suffer from post-traumatic stress.
Between 106,000 and 116,000 Iraqi civilians and 12,793 Afghan civilians have been killed have been killed. Thousands more have been injured; millions more have been displaced.
The next time our leaders consider sending American troops overseas, be it for promotion of American values or cynical national interests, they should think about Scott Ostrom. I challenge anyone to look at "Welcome Home" and, with a straight face, tell me that the invasion of Iraq was worth it.