The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


October 23, 2006

Name: A Nurse
Posting date: 10/23/06
Stationed in: a military hospital
Hometown: Illinois

As I read everyone's postings here I thought of my own experiences as a civilian nurse caring for the war wounded. Idealistic as it may sound, I somehow wanted to help, to do my own "duty" for this country. To me, helping was not only caring for the wounded's physical injuries, it was caring for the emotional ones too.

I will always remember the evening I held a 19-year-old man in my arms while he cried because he had lost both of his legs. I will not forget the twenty-something man who rolled out of surgery so badly injured I was amazed he was still alive, and yet this man still cracked smiles at my off-beat sense of humor and my attempts to take his mind off his pain. I'll remember the woman who I helped calm after a book fell off a counter and the loud bang instantly transported her back to the day of her injury and who, from then on, always looked for me when she came out of the OR because she said she felt safe when I was around.  I'll never forget my soldier who lost both legs and an arm, who I later watched get married, downhill ski, and, driving his big truck, head off to college. I'll remember the night I chuckled after one soldier, under the influence of pain medication, asked me to marry him and have his children, and the following day, when he was so worried and apologetic for "being out of line".  For as long as I live I will remember the day I ran the Army 10-miler with nine amputees, five of whom I had taken care of.

There were so many times I held their hands, wiped their brows, their tears, and reached down into beds and stretchers to give them the hugs they so badly needed. I sat and listened to their stories of fear and horror because they needed to talk. And because I could do nothing more than listen, I would go home and cry for the ones who could not cry for themselves.

Mixed with the physical and emotional pain I have seen tremendous perseverance, courage, and determination. You have amazed me, you have made me smile, you have made me laugh and you have made me cry. I will always remember my time spent with you. To the many Soldiers and Marines I have cared for, I wish I knew where you ended up, how you are and how life is treating you. I hope and pray all the best for you!



Way to go, fellow nurse.
The hardest things are ALWAYS the best & richest,n'est-ce pas?

As a nurse myself, I know exactly what you speak of. In nursing school they teach us to remain detached. To be "just a nurse". But I vowed to never be "just a nurse". And in my opinion, those who care for emotional,as well as physical wounds are the best. And those who are not afraid to cry for those who can't, and comfort those in need will always be so much more than "just a nurse". Big hugs to you for daring to get involved. Keep it up!

WOW... I'm in tears. I must say you are a wonderful person for doing what you do. I know I could never do it. I don't have the strength, nor the nerves to do so. For you to be able to help soilders and make them smile, is a special thing. I know If I had parents in the war I would wont them to run into people like you. Thank You....

A. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
B. You learn--as you did--to admire and respect those who do not quit.
C. Thank you for serving

I'm a nurse, too. Just finished a graduate course entitled, Nursing Grounded in Caring. The professor would have said of you that you are a true and shining example of Authentic Presence. I'm honored to share the title of Nurse with you. What a great role model for nursing in all it's forms!

What an inspiration you are!!! God bless you for doing the job you do and doing it from your heart. And I personally want to say Thank You.

I was a medic in Vietnam, my scars are still there. I truely believe that there are a group of Vets who have been forgotten, they are the nurses who serve our wounded. This is for them:


Not sure where she called home
She stayed pretty much alone
The job was tough, long, and hard
She made it look easy
Setting her emotions aside
She worked on the boys from back home.

When she arrived she was easy going and soft
War changes people brings out the best and their worst
She would not give up on the dying boys
She would order them not to die
Some had the fight to listen and not give up
A few came home walking and not in a bag.

2nd Lieutenant, I swear at the end of her tour
Was better and knew just what to do
She would work with the head wounds and the blind
She was their sister, mom, and wife
Sitting and talking to them trying to help them find their way
No one knew that at the end of her shift
She would go back to her room and just cry.

In the open at the job, she was calm and positive
No one knew the pain she buried deep inside.
35 years later she lives alone at her home, she remembers
And she still cries, but she never became a sister, mom, or wife.
"I lost too many brothers; was a widow time and time again;
my sons died - PTSD and Agent Orange is killing all the rest."

"Don't you know who I am?
I ain't just a 2nd Lieutenant. Not just Army Nurse Corp.
I am your sister, mom, and wife
Damn it... I order you to live."

©Copyright November 2004 by Kerry "Doc" Pardue

I think you are that kind of nurse. Just sorry the hurt runs so deep.

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