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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.

THREE SOLDIERS |

November 28, 2007

THREE SOLDIERS
Name: Combat Doc
Posting date: 11/28/07
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog url: candle_in_the_dark.blogspot.com

Lots of people say they want to go to war. Some people watch too many movies. Many join and are just where they need to be. You never know how you're going to react to something until that something happens. Most who join are exactly who they think they are, and the fact that they came in shows their worth. The sight of the reality for the first time, though, is where you find your place. For others the sight of the reality may take you back to somewhere you don't want to be again.

I was at the hospital the other day with two new privates who were doing their clinical training for AIT*. A soldier from the 82nd was there who had been RPG'd the week before and had a mangled left arm that had been flayed open and reassembled. His wrist had been shattered, the skin on the back of his hand was macerated from the past week of sweat and ointments that covered his arm. The staples and stitches snaked around the extremity delineated with blood and bruising.

We cleaned, dressed and splinted his arm as the two newbies watched in confusion and wonder. Three surgeons and myself hovered over this soldier as he wailed and moaned through squeezed lips. I wiped blood as we pulled staples and the wounds opened and leaked as we tried to give this kid some of his old life back.

He'll be fine, but he won't be himself. Neither will the two newbies.

I turned to them when we were done, the soldier sitting in his wheelchair waiting for the pain to subside, using his thumb and index finger to push his eyes into his head. The two looked shocked but not frozen. I pulled the bloody gloves off and made sure to throw them away in the can behind them.

"You have an opportunity most new soldiers never get. This is the reality of it, gentlemen. This is what you're going to see." They nodded and understood. One couldn't take his eyes off the soldier.

I was proud. I helped three soldiers with the war that day. One who knew it all too well, and two who now know it for the first time.

* AIT: Advanced Individual Training

Comments

With all due respet doctor,Why wasn't this kid given any pain medication?

Pain; What he said. WTF are the meds? Kid already gave enough, you don't need to give it to him too. AND What the Hell do you mean, "He'll be fine, but he won't be himself." Is that some 'Throught the Looking Glass' way of describing loss of tissue, muscle and limb?

Whoever said Frank Burns is just for M.A.S.H. re-runs hasn't met you.

You're doing an important job, Doc, and passing along that knowledge to two newbies that can one day maybe make a difference--that's awesome. Keep writing and I'll keep reading.
Take care
mc

I see what you're after; an eloquent essay on a grotesque subject, and in IMO, one which is in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, needless.

"War is at best barbarism …Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot, nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell--Gen. Sherman".

(Per the previous posts, I presume painkillers were given.)

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