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.


November 07, 2006

Name: A Nurse
Posting date: 11/7/06
Stationed in: a military hospital
Hometown: Illinois

Many times when people learn I am a civilian nurse working in a military hospital they ask if I take care of any wounded soldiers. When I reply "I do" they always ask how they can come and visit the wounded. I always tell them "you can't". People are shocked by that blunt response and frequently tell me, "I just want to say thank you." 

I realize most people are very well intended and really do want these guys and gals to know how appreciative they are. However we are very protective of our wounded warriors and here are the reasons why. If you think back to a time in your life when you were your absolute sickest. Or a time you were in horrific physical pain. Or a time when you were so devastatingly depressed you could hardly climb from your bed. Or a time you were grieving the death of a dear friend or family member. Or a time when you realized the life you thought you had or looked forward to having was no longer possible. Or a time when a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend says, "I can't do this anymore," and leaves you alone.

Many of these wounded experience some or even all of these things at the same time. The IED that shredded their leg so badly it had to be amputated also killed their buddy or buddies. The family they thought they could depend on isn't there. They are trying to come to terms with just how drastically their lives have changed. They are trying to manage emotional and physical pain issues with infection issues and the need for multiple surgeries to clean their injuries. These soldiers and marines, depending on the severity of their injuries, will easily go back to surgery 10, 20, 30, even upwards of 40 times. If you really stop and think about it and put yourself in their place, would you really want a stranger walking into your hospital room?

Frequently the celebrities come by to visit. I remember visiting with a soldier when someone knocked on the door and an MP stuck his head in and asked the soldier if he wanted to see Mr. X. The soldier did not, the MP said okay and closed the door. We talked a bit more, then I left him to get some sleep. As I was leaving and closing the door to his room, Mr. X's PR person comes running over and said to me "He really doesn't want to see Mr X?"  I told her "No."  She then said "Well, we're only here this once, maybe he should reconsider. He saw you, didn't he?" I told her the soldier did not want a visitor and walked away. These soldiers know me, I've seen them in horrible pain, I've held their hands while the tears roll down their faces and I've listened while they tell stories nightmares are made of. 

I know people want to show their appreciation for the difficult job these soldiers and marines are doing. Please be sensitive to their needs and not your own.


Amen to this. It's the soldier's right to privacy after all.

God bless you for giving your life to this purpose. Nurses are angels of mercy.

This is a very wonderful post. Thank you for taking such good care of our wounded heroes. I remember our wounded in my daily prayers, please let them know many people pray for them, thanks.

you hit the mark sister...thanks for being there.

They're lucky to have you there--my thoughts are with you.

god love you.
semper fi,...snooky

god love you.
semper fi,...snooky

Thanks for the wake-up call. I'm one of those who wish to visit. Now I remember my brother at Walter Reed,I "surprised" him with a visit. He begged me with tears to leave. The pain he had. That was the last time I saw him until Arlington.

>>I know people want to show their appreciation for the difficult job these soldiers and marines are doing. Please be sensitive to their needs and not your own.

Help us to understand how....

As someone who recently survived a serious motor vehicle accident with multiple injuries/surgeries, I've often felt the need to travel to my nearest VA to help injured soldiers in some way. I know what it feels like to be in emotional and physical pain simultaneously, yet I'm extremely humbled by your words. I cannot compare my experience at all, even with what I've been through. I completely understand the need to respect their privacy as they are healing. You are an amazing human being. Thank you for being there.

Thoughtful and intelligent post. I suppose the follow-up question becomes this: For those who do wish to show some appreciation for the service of our wounded vets, what's the most appropriate way to do it? While hospital visits may be unwelcome, are there organizations which help with aftercare? Or who might hook people up with families so that Mom (or Dad) can get a break to spend time with their wounded spouse? Or running errands for those who are in long recoveries and for whom shopping etc. is a hardship? Just a few thoughts on other ways to be of help. . .

Thank you for your post. Very few people have seen or experienced that kind of physical and emotional pain.

I have worked in situations where I was required to see people in that kind of pain and deal with their families. Most of the time just being available was all they wanted or needed.

Thank you for holding the line that protects the boundries of our wounded troops.

I work in the medical field and I can understand (on a very small scale) your want and need to protect our servicemen and women and I thank you for your service as well as theirs

Thank you for what you do. Thank you for reminding all of us that those wounded heros had our respect when in uniform fighting .. and continue to deserve our respect when it comes to their private life. Angels come in all shapes and sizes and I believe you are one of them!

I was stationed in a military hospital that specialized in orthopedics - treating amputees. I've seen what happens when the well-intended insert themselves into arenas where they have neither legimate business nor the competence to deal with what they find. You keep saying "No" to those who need to hear it!!

God bless you and all other medical personel for all you do, physically as well as emotionally. Only another comrade could truely understand the emotions of another. I pray that(god forbide) if my son were ever to need medical attention while there, that there would be someone like you to be there to listen and hold his hand. Again , God bless you all and may you all return home safely.

Thanks for a fanatastic post. For those out there who would like to help in some way there are two organizations who take care of wounded troops and thier families exclusively. and

Both are certified non-profits and I can personally attest to the good they do with the money they raise. I too work at a military hosptial taking care of this war's combat wounded. Thanks for the prayers and the sincere support. Also, remember nurses like the poster who have done amazing work to help heal these broken folks.

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