These faces never change. For more than 10 years, they’ve been bringing dead soldiers from Afghanistan to Arlington National Cemetery, accompanied by family members with these expressions.
This is the family of Gary Stouffer, who came home from Afghanistan with anxiety disorders, PTSD, and physical disabilities, only to be killed when a train in Texas hit a parade float on which he was riding.
This is the week when most news organizations cover a slow news week by running lists of top stories of the year. But a continuing war in Afghanistan isn’t one of them.
Here, for example, are some of the ones that did make top-10 lists in its place.
General Petreaus had an affair (The Hill)
A guy in Miami chewed on a guy’s face (Yahoo!)
There was better food at airports (USA Today)
The potential of a fiscal cliff (Pew)
Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space (Google)
At year’s end, then, here are some war facts:
— There are still 68,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. Despite suggestions the troops would be removed by 2014, there is not yet a specific plan to remove them.
— 309 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan this year. The 14 killed in December was the lowest monthly loss since April 2009.
— One in five 1 in 5 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with PTSD. And veterans account for 20 percent of U.S. suicides, according to George Washington University.
— 10 percent of Gulf War II veterans are unemployed, almost double the rate of Gulf War I veterans.