US and Allied Wounded

As in every war, the wounded are far more numerous than those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.   As with the dead in these wars, United States forces have suffered grievously as have allied forces.  Common combat injuries have included second and third degree burns, broken bones, shrapnel wounds, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, paralysis, loss of sight and hearing, post traumatic stress disorder, and amputations.  

23 The true count of Americans injured or sickened in the war is much larger – by orders of magnitude – than the figures given on the official Department of Defense casualty website.  That official total – over 100,000 – includes both those wounded in action and those suffering what are categorized as “non-hostile injuries” and other medical problems, which include heat stroke, suicide attempts, respiratory problems, and vehicle crashes.  While some baseline number of injuries and illnesses would have occurred in any case, many of the latter, however, should be considered a result of the wars, and therefore as much a combat injury, broadly speaking, as IED (improvised explosive device) injuries. 

The true numbers of the injured are significantly higher than this, given that many problems, including traumatic brain injury and PTSD, are not diagnosed and treated until the injured return home. According to Veterans Health Administration data collected by Veterans for Common Sense, from 2002 through June 2012, approximately 247,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who came for care at a VA facility were diagnosed with PTSD. [1]  The incidence of depression and PTSD has been measured at between one quarter and one third of all troops ever deployed to those conflicts. New evidence of toxic dust exposure and resulting respiratory, cardiac, and neurological disease suggests another large segment of war zone-induced illness has yet to be fully recognized.

The sum total of the injured, including both US and allied forces, is very conservatively estimated at 218,000 wounded.  Figures for the wounded among allied forces are more difficult to come by, but rough estimates have been made using a low but common ratio of the wounded to killed in previous wars (here 3 to 1).  (Page updated as of November 2012)



[1] Department of Veterans Affairs, Report on VA Facility Specific Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) Veterans Coded with Potential PTSD, September 2012.

[2] Luis Martinez, “U.S. Veterans:  By the Numbers,” (2011),

[1] Through October 3, 2012

[2] "The True Cost of War," The Arms Trade Exposed, (January 12, 2013),