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One of the discussions at the Milblog Conference yesterday brought up concerns about balancing the need to make people aware of the financial and structural concerns involved in making sure the psychologically and physically wounded get what they need with concerns about allowing veterans to be painted as pathetic victims.

Several of the panelists said that you do that by making sure that a wide variety of stories about our servicemen and women are told.  But beyond that, there's a way you can tell the story of a wounded soldier honestly without being condescending or pitying. 

Like this:

His head was one giant purple bruise, his eyelids were nearly swollen shut. His left eye had been removed...His eyelashes and most of his eyebrows were singed off; so, too, was his hair halfway back on his scalp. His nose was mostly gone, just a sliver of cartilage remaining; skeletal-like bones revealed his sinuses. His top right lip was curled into a snarl, making it impossible to close his mouth. His right jaw was torn. His bottom teeth, loosened by the blast, were wired together.

His face — every bone has been shattered — was splattered with pinkish third-degree burns. [snip]

Darron Mikeworth's face was his identity.

So, too, was his life as a soldier.

He was about to embark on a long journey to regain both.

As part of the same milblog panel conversation referenced above, several veterans mentioned that they are still affected by their combat experiences but emphasized that doesn't mean they are crazy or unable to live happy, successful, well-adjusted lives.  Some said they'd been through some pretty dark times trying to deal with it alone, but they said that having the support and learning the tools to overcome or cope was what made the difference, and that doing so is incredibly empowering.  Sgt. Mikeworth has obviously been more severely affected by his combat experiences than my fellow conference attendees, but it occurs to me that they're all obviously cut from the same tenacious and resilient cloth...