During the height of the Iraq war, the U.S. media paid close attention to troop deaths and fatalities, often making casualties among American soldiers leading stories in newspapers and on the airwaves. As ThinkProgress previously noted, the American press has essentially withdrawn from covering the war in Afghanistan, with the Pew Center finding that the media only devoted four percent of its coverage to the war during 2010.
Yet America remains a nation at war, and it’s important for Americans to understand the cost of its longest war in history, in Afghanistan. As ThinkProgress previously reported, the FY2011 cost of the Afghan war is $113 billion, approximately 40,000 times the cost of NPR’s federal grant money that Republicans have sought to defund and enough money to fund the employment of 1.9 million firefighters for a year.
Yet it is the toll among human beings that is the most incalculable. As troops deaths fail to be reported in the major media, icasualties.org continues to track the deaths among American and coalition forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan. According to its well-sourced data, 592 American soldiers have fallen in battle in Afghanistan since President Obama announced the surge of American troops in that country on December 1, 2009.
As the media has withdrawn from covering the war, the stories of these soldiers remain largely untold. One group in the media that has been reporting about war deaths has been local media, focusing on casualties among soldiers in the surrounding communities. A local Rhode Island news station covered the death of Dennis Poulin, who died Thursday in a German hospital from injuries he sustained in Afghanistan. Poulin was scheduled for a visit with his family within just a couple of weeks, and he leaves behind a wife and a five year old son. Watch it:
These deaths do not account for the casualties among Afghan civilians and combatants, which are of course far greater but are difficult to estimate. While the best way to ensure the safety of our troops would be to bring them home, a number of veterans and support organizations exist where Americans can donate time and money to support our men and women risking their lives. The USO and IAVA both welcome your support and goodwill.