In a fluorescent-lit exam room, Col. Rochelle Wasserman sticks ballpoint-size pins in the ears of Sgt. Rick Remalia.
Remalia broke his back, hip and pelvis during a rollover caused by a pair of rocket-propelled grenades in Afghanistan. He still walks with a cane and suffers from mild traumatic brain injury. Pain is an everyday occurrence, which is where the needles come in.
"I've had a lot of treatment, and this is the first treatment that I've had where I've been like, OK, wow, I've actually seen a really big difference," he says.
Originally published on Wed February 15, 2012 11:07 am
U.S. soldiers are expected to be in Afghanistan for a couple more years. But already there's a debate about future U.S. security needs worldwide. Here, soldiers examine the site of a suicide bombing in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Jan. 19.
Credit AFP/Getty Images
U.S. troops have already left Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, and there hasn't been a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 2001.
So is America now safe enough to scale back its emphasis on security? Or are the potential threats no less dangerous — just less obvious?
These questions are not just philosophical, but practical. They're also the underpinning of the current argument about what the level of defense spending should be.
The word that Pentagon rules may soon "catch up a bit with reality" as the military considers formally allowing women to do something that they've already been asked to do in Iraq and Afghanistan — serve close to the front lines but technically not "in combat" — raises a question.
As NPR's Tom Bowman reports, the new rules still wouldn't allow women to serve in front line combat jobs such as infantry, armor or Special Forces.
The Defense Department has spent close to $3 billion since 2007 to treat and study traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder — the leading injuries suffered by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. But a federal investigation finds that the department's programs are so disorganized that it's difficult to figure out how the money has been spent.