Posted: November 18, 2016, 3:00pm
As an engineer, I spend most of my time on the southwest side of campus, but a few days ago I got the chance to tag along with a friend to see a screening of “Hacksaw Ridge” at the 365-seat Frank Sinatra Hall in the Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre (not located in the southwest side of campus) courtesy of CTCS-466: Theatrical Film Symposium. This course is open to all students and it’s one of the advantages of being a Trojan. Who doesn’t want to brag about seeing Hollywood’s biggest hits before they are released to the rest of the non-Trojan world?
The movie itself was thought provoking, and it forced me to think deeply about the immense cost of war that people have endured in the previous century. So, it’s a good thing that modern warfare has become increasingly less lethal, right? To explore this grave question objectively, I referred to the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC: dmdc.osd.mil) and found the number American casualties in the present Global War on Terror (GWOT):
Operation Freedom’s Sentinel 30
Operation Inherent Resolve 30
Operation Enduring Freedom 2346
Operation New Dawn 73
Operation Iraqi Freedom 4411
Comparing this with the 58,220 American casualties in Vietnam War does indeed suggest that modern warfare is less lethal. But let’s consider a different number: 4,398,000 – the number of living veterans of GWOT (source: va.gov). Not only does “Hacksaw Ridge” portray the horror of a battlefield, but also the lasting impact after soldiers return home. Undoubtedly, technology has transformed warfare to reduce casualties, however, there is a huge need for medical advancements to address mental illness. Approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day. This is a problem statement for engineers and researchers who have traditionally worked on improving battlefield technologies. A future in which non-invasive neuro-imaging and anomaly detection algorithms are used to monitor health to prevent such tragic events is not inconceivable. But before the necessary breakthroughs occur, mental illness needs to become part of the problem statement.
Published on July 27th, 2017
Last updated on January 20th, 2021