Artificial limbs and disfigured faces are the most visible cost to America of its Iraq adventure; the thousands of mutilated and dead soldiers that have returned home to fill the corridors of hospitals and rehabilitation centres, or lie beneath tombstones in Arlington.
They and their families will continue to pay the price for years to come. Many who have served there suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders.
But one veteran has become a stand-up comic after being wounded;
“I crossed the border into Iraq on March 29th 2003, and less than a week later I was shot. I was so lucky and I’m still lucky now, and lucky to be doing what I do for a living. But this is the reason that I can tell jokes,” says Staff Sergeant Thom Tran.
The figures are grim; over 4000 American dead, nearly 32,000 injured, and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed. That figure may be much higher. No-one really knows.
For those left behind the pain is eternal, occasionally made worse by administrative failures;
“After Mark died we got a Christmas card from Mark, and he was talking about his plans for the summer and Sallie was reading it before we went to, when we were in bed one night and she just broke down, but there’s nothing you can do,” says Norm Stubenhofer, the father of the late Captain Mark Norman Stubenhofer.
Injured survivors and victim’s families will weigh heavily on health and social security budgets for years. A number of embittered veterans may slump into crime, like after Vietnam. The dead will serve on, as silent reminders of this page in US military history.