Long Fight At Home For Injured Vets

With the number of wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan topping 16,000, CBS News wanted to know how the government is treating these heroes when they return home.

CBS News correspondent David Martin looks at the state of the homefront.

Walk into the physical therapy room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and you know this is a nation at war. No matter how many times you come here, there's no getting used to so many young Americans missing so many limbs.

For Jason Scott, learning to use his new right hand is a challenge compounded by the fact that he's blind in one eye — and had a piece of shrapnel go in one side of his hip and out the other.


David Martin filed notes on this story for CBSNews.com's Public Eye Blog:
Martin's Blog Comments
Scott, the victim of an IED, has already undergone 12 surgeries and will remain at Walter Reed until he's discharged from the Army. Then he'll become one of the five and a half million patients from all wars cared for by the Veterans Administration. He worries about getting lost in the system — especially after receiving almost one-on-one care at Walter Reed.

Nearly half a million servicemen have come home from war in Iraq or Afghanistan — 120,000 of them are now receiving some kind of health care from Veterans Administration. For Tracy Jones of suburban Atlanta, the morning begins with a VA nurse exercising his limbs and getting him ready to face the day. Two years ago an Iraqi water tanker slammed into Jones, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

"I can't really do anything for myself," says Jones.

Once the nurse leaves, he has to rely totally on his wife Johnnie. Every day she hoists him to a standing position, for him an arduous exercise.

Johnnie herself suffers from her own disability — crippling arthritis. Her condition is evident as she stretches Tracy's fingers in an attempt to keep his hands flexible.

But the therapy Tracy needs the most — aqua therapy — is three hours away at a VA hospital with a swimming pool, and it's not easy to get an appointment. He's only able to book about one session every four months.

"There's so many veterans they have to make a slot for me to come in to get some aquatic therapy," says Tracy.

Whether they are in the VA system or at Walter Reed, the casualties of Iraq will be fighting this war for the rest of their lives.