The High Cost Of War

Randall xxx, wounded GI, walter reed hospital CBS

CBS National Security Correspondent David Marin got a first-hand look at the high cost of the war with Iraq during a visit to army's Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington where some of the wounded are brought for treatment.

"This hospital is overloaded with orthopedics because of things like this; because there're so many amputees coming back from Iraq," said David Pettigrew.

Pettigrew lost his right leg when his armored vehicle was hit by a rocket propelled grenade.

"I woke up and I could look down and see, 'Wow, look, there's my left leg and my right leg went AWOL,'" he told Martin.

The leg is gone but not the pain.

"Sometimes I'll have a phantom pain thing out in my right foot," he said. "I try and try and tell myself, look you don't have a right foot, you idiot, you can't hurt because it's not there."

Pettigrew is one of more than 450 soldiers wounded since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Brandon Erickson is another.

"I remember asking the doctors over and over; please don't take my arm. I knew I was going to lose it," Erickson said.

He's another young man for whom life will never be the same -- who now has to learn all over again how to do even the simplest of tasks.

"The zipper coat's the hardest thing, you know a simple thing like that, you'd never think it'd be that hard," he said.

Latoya Lucas, the mother of a two-year-old daughter, suffered a broken arm, broken pelvis, and mangled feet, but she's one of the lucky ones.

"I have all my fingers, all my toes," she explained.

Next week surgeons will take off what little remains of David Pettigrew's leg, but he knows he will survive.

"Everything waist up, everything that really matters, everything that keeps you alive and keeps you who you are, like your head and stuff, nothing wrong with any of that stuff," Pettigrew said.

His wife knows that as bad as it is, it could have been worse.

"There are people here who had both legs gone and an arm. Another guy had both legs gone, an arm, and he's blind," Ann Pettigrew said.

And they both know what that simple phrase "wounded in action" really means.

"A few wounded is me with a leg gone and my buddy English with shrapnel in his eye and may or may not see properly ever again out of that eye," David Pettigrew said.

So how do you measure the cost of Iraq? You can't.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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