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.

GIVING THANKS |

November 22, 2007

GIVING THANKS
Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 11/22/07
Stationed at: a military hospital in the U.S.
Email: clarahart2@yahoo.com
Milblog url: mcneillysperspective.blogspot.com

I held the hand of a soldier today and watched helplessly as he sobbed uncontrollably. I held the hand of a soldier and listened with growing horror to the litany of complaints; not sleeping, having nightmares, anxiety, dreading report for duty, uncontrolled crying, feeling irritable, not eating. I held the hand of a soldier and listened to him say, “I may not have been shot at or blown up but I also serve!”

As I looked into his red rimmed, tear filled eyes I thought, “You are a wounded soldier too."  Because, you see, this wounded soldier is a United States Army Nurse. This wounded soldier cares not only for other wounded soldiers but their families and their friends. This wounded soldier cares for not only the physical injuries but also the emotional injuries and social fallout that soon accompany. This wounded soldier sees the others being recognized for their injuries and is quick to say, “I don’t want to be given anything, the quilts, the coins, the clothes, the meals, the trips. I don’t want any of that."

What this wounded soldier would like is for someone to say thank you. This wounded soldier would like to be told about all the good things they are doing instead of hearing about all the bad. This wounded soldier would like someone, anyone, to recognize that he and his fellow nurses bust their ass every single day taking care of wounded troops. This wounded soldier would like people to know they work short-staffed almost every day and go home so dead tired their bodies ache. This wounded soldier wants others to know about the relationships that suffer, the marriages that are strained, and the families that make do with all the missed activities. This wounded soldier works a mandatory 48-hour workweek, has mandatory on call, and may have vacations and days off cancelled at a moment's notice all in caring for their brothers in arms.

Many people email me and tell me to take care of myself, they tell me to watch for compassion fatigue and burn out. Thankfully I have spent enough time in nursing and caring for trauma patients to pay attention to my stress levels. I know all my triggers and red flags and heed the warning signs when something starts going amiss. However, many of my colleagues do not have that knowledge or ability to do the same.

Often, they are young 20-something officers and NCO’s barely out of high school and college. Why is the combat veteran mandated to training on PTSD and combat stress, yet little if any stress training is given to the nursing staff? There are no in-services on compassion fatigue and burnout, and classes on PTSD for nurses are non-existent.

Much is said about our wounded troops. I myself have written many posts on just that subject. However we have other wounded troops in our midst and we are doing them a great disservice by not recognizing and paying attention to that! Their sacrifices, too, are many, and often with as a high a price to pay. They, too, could use your support, your thanks and your best wishes. They, too, need to know their sacrifices are not in vain and are truly appreciated.

So, from one nurse to another: yes, my wounded warrior, my United States Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force Nurses, you do serve too and I, for one, think you do an awesome job! 

Comments

God bless & keep you and yours safe, sane, and sound... and relay my heart-felt Thanks for the people you are... what else can be said?

my dear we thank you so much and pray for your health and return home each day. You are the ones we rely on to bring our sons, daughters, fathers and spouses home as well as yourself. We are free because of you people. We miss you here in our homes with us on holidays and everyday.
We are proud of each and everyone of you that serve. Yours may be one of the hardest out there. Caring for our wounded is a gift you have given many many of us. Thank you and remember you are loved. Come on down when you get home and I will show you some of us who appreaciate what you have done. Stay safe and get home..A Mom of a soldier..

Thanksgiving here, frosty outside the home, warm inside and you remind me of the war and the warriors and the healers and I am ashamed I can do no more than say thanks, to God for all the blessings and the blest, to those who fight and care, and those that care for the broken and in pain and fight to make it all right. Thanks for reminding me about the importance of holding hands and listening and touching. Thank you for being beautiful. Earl

Sounds like a mother's gripe! A thankless job but somebody has to do it. Your reward is not in the spoken word 'thanks', it wil be with you forever and ever.

Your observations are perfectly accurate. As usual, someone is cuting costs at the expense of others.

I read your columns, and I understand what you are going through. Thank you so much for doing it. You are one of the most important people in the world.

Thank you for sharing this with us. Thank you and all of your colleagues who serve. Thank you for sharing with us that there is such a thing compassion fatigue. Your job is one of the most important in the military. Thank you.

I am a nurse, too. I don't work for for the VA, but I know the burn out you talk about. I can't really work in nursing anymore, and at 58 I am having a hard time finding any other job. Nursing, even civilian work, has left me pretty much not good for anythng anymore. I applaud you, and thank you for your service; you are fighters too.

The deepest gratitude to all of the medical caretakers overseas. I've been a nurse for 25yrs, and can't imagine the emotional drain felt from the work you do. Stay strong, no doubt you and so many others in your line of work have deeply touched and given hope to many wounded men and women. Sincerely hope there are ways the care providers can replenish their hearts and souls.
Cathy B

So glad you are with us Sweetie Pie holding those hands and wagging that finger at us....so that we remember the world beyond our four walls.

Just found this blog thru an IT website. Wanted to say Thank You So Much for what you are all doing and the sacrifices you make everyday.
I would like to also thank the Army Nurse you mentioned, Thank You, I know is not enough, but Thank You just the same.
Also, I would like to ask what I might do to help, can I get something and send it, or maybe do something, please let me know.
Also to my Brother in Baghdad, Keep your head down, and I love and miss you! Z

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