Ground Truth: the Iraq War

“The Ground Truth” stunned filmgoers at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Hailed as powerful and quietly unflinching, Patricia Foulkrods searing documentary feature includes exclusive footage that will stir audiences. The filmmakers subjects are patriotic young Americans ordinary men and women who heeded the call for military service in Iraq as they experience recruitment and training, combat, homecoming, and the struggle to reintegrate with families and communities.

The terrible conflict in Iraq, depicted with ferocious honesty in the film, is a prelude for the even more challenging battles fought by the soldiers returning home with personal demons, an uncomprehending public, and an indifferent government. As these battles take shape, each soldier becomes a new kind of hero, bearing witness and giving support to other veterans, and learning to fearlessly wield the most powerful weapon of all the truth.

Basic Facts as of June 2006

(1) The war in Iraq is now in its fourth year.

(2) Over 2,500 U.S. deaths and over 18,000 U.S. wounded have been recorded since the war began.

(3) Over 95% of the above-mentioned deaths and injuries happened after major combat was declared over by President Bush in his Mission Accomplished speech of May 1, 2003.

(4) From the 2003 through the 2005 calendar years, 210 active/deployed U.S. Army soldiers have committed suicide. The number has risen in each successive year, and the 2005 toll is the highest since 1993.

(5) On May 19, 2005, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that, out of 360,000 discharged veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), more than 85,000 sought medical care from the VA or, 1 in 4 veterans.

(6) The three most common physical health problems for war veterans are musculoskeletal ailments (principally joint and back disorders), mental disorders, and dental problems.

(7) Over 40% of the troops currently being rotated into Iraq are U.S. Army National Guard members and Reservists. Comparable reliance on Reservists hasnt been exercised since World War II.

(8) In the first quarter of 2005, nationwide unemployment among males ages 20-24 was 11%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that veterans in the same age group had a 20.4% unemployment rate.

(9) Because of better equipment and medical treatment, the survival rate for injured soldiers is higher than in previous wars; many are now living with severe disabilities.

(10) 35% of Iraq veterans have already sought out mental health services.

(11) Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.

(12) From March 2003 to October 2005, only 6.5% of deploying service members who indicated a mental health problem were referred for evaluations; overall, fewer than 1 in 300, or 0.3%, of deploying troops were referred for such screenings.

(13) Less than 1% of 297 million Americans are engaged in active duty military or the reserves, the lowest percentage of the population serving under arms in a century. Some Marines who died in Iraq were on their third tour of duty.

(14) Several soldiers who have died in action in Iraq were on their second, or even third, tour of duty.

(15) 1 in 3 homeless Americans are military veterans.

(16) Defense CEOs make 160 times the pay of an army private in combat.

(17) According to the National Priorities Project, the $150 billion spent on Iraq reconstruction could have paid for the following (in the U.S, unless otherwise indicated);

n sending 20,385,749 children to attend a year of Head Start
n health care for 92,526,600 children for one year
n hiring 2,667,325 additional public school teachers for one year
n providing 7,461,354 students four-year scholarships at public universities
n building 1,385,841 additional housing units
n fully funding global anti-hunger efforts for 6 years
n fully funding worldwide AIDS programs for 15 years
n ensuring that every child in the world was given basic immunizations for 51 years

(18) Some military doctors treating combat stress symptoms are sending some soldiers back to the front lines after rest and a 3-day regimen of drugs even though experts say the drugs typically take 2-6 weeks to begin working.

(19) An estimated 1,600 children have lost a parent to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(20) The Pentagon barred photos of coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, and has scheduled flights of wounded to arrive at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland only at night.

(21) 95% of Army Reserve Soldiers in Iraq and other Middle East bases are experiencing significant pay/compensation problems.

(22) In 2005, the VA forecasted a $2.6 billion shortfall for meeting the growing health care needs of U.S. veterans.

(23) There have been over 50 U.S. servicewomen fatalities in Iraq.

(24) Women constitute nearly 15% of all active-duty U.S. military personnel.

(25) The House GOP plan for 2007 drops $65 billion in benefit cuts over 5 years.

(26) In May 2005, the U.S. Marines recalled more than 5,000 DHB armored vests after questions were raised about their effectiveness in stopping 9mm bullets. Six months later, the Marines as well as the Army announced a recall of an additional 18,000 DHB vests.

(27) As of September 2004, the VAs patient-to-doctor ratio was 53 to 1.

(28) The war in Iraq is costing the U.S. nearly $200 million a day and nearly $6 billion per month.