Spinal cord injury doctors know as well as anyone that foot soldiers often face injuries to their muscles and bones in the course of their regular duties. The great weight of their equipment only exacerbates the problems, making minor injuries worse and creating new injuries that will never completely heal.
Noncommissioned officers who have been through multiple tours in a combat zone are often the ones who suffer from these strains like herniated discs the most, according to doctors. These are also the ones who are most likely to feel loyalty to their units and they refuse to let younger and less experienced soldiers who have fewer injuries take their place.
“I had a choice. But I couldn’t leave my squad behind just before they were being deployed,” a staff sergeant from Joint Base Louis-McChord told a reporter. The sergeant served in Afghanistan for a year, even though he had injuries to his arm and rotator cuff.