GIVING THANKS |
November 22, 2007
Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 11/22/07
Stationed at: a military hospital in the U.S.
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!