The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

The Sandbox was a forum for service members who were serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and for returned vets, spouses, and caregivers. The Sandbox's main focus was not on policy and partisanship, but on the unclassified details of deployment - the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd.


January 28, 2008

Name: RN Clara Hart
Posting date: 1/28/08
Stationed in: a military hospital in the U.S.
Milblog url:

Asked to see and evaluate an OEF patient in the trauma ICU, I wandered into the bay only to stop short at the sight before me. The wounded patient lay motionless with wires and tubes, dressings and splints all entangling each other. Ventilator high-pressure alarms shrieked off-cadence with the beeps of the heart monitor. Intubated on a vent, multiple IV lines and specialty dressings all around, this patient lay in drug-induced slumber.

Keeping a bedside vigil was his wife, not an uncommon site on any of the nursing units temporarily housing our wounded warriors. What caught me off guard and stopped me stock-still were the small bodies occupying the chairs that flanked her. Two beautiful young children sat beside her, alternating between coloring pictures with dry erase markers given to them by the nurses and staring silently at their father.

As I introduced myself to Sarah, I also introduced myself to the children. Victoria, who is seven, and Jacob, who is five, shook my hand gravely as I held it out to them. I learned Victoria had been eating blue candy, as evidenced by her blue tongue, lips and teeth. I learned Jacob loved the Transformers and wanted his dad to teach him how to ride an ATV, “when he gets better."  I learned Sarah had arrived on Saturday, the day after her husband had been flown in, and alone at the hospital had no one to watch the children. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that they came with her every day and sat in the ICU room, coloring pictures, playing games, and watching their dad.

As we talked I looked at the children. I could see the fear and uncertainty crowding their small faces. I asked if I could bring in a DVD player so they could watch movies. Eyes filling once again with tears, Sarah thanked me, telling me over and over how much she appreciated the help. I asked her to forget it, as it was such an easy thing for me to do. It’s not hard to take a portable DVD player off the closet shelf where it is gathering dust and loan it to two children so they could forget where they are if only for a couple of hours.

That was four days ago, and this patient has been extubated. Yesterday I watched joy instead of sorrow fill this family’s faces. I watched a wife and mother hold her children up to the bed so a little boy and girl could say, “Hi Daddy!”  I smiled in delight at the looks of pure happiness as their father opened his eyes and smiled at them. I choked back tears as Sarah laid her head on his chest and sobbed, “Welcome home, Baby.”

Today as I walked down the hall I heard a tiny voice call out, “Ms. Clara!” Turning, I saw Jacob and Victoria dragging their mom toward me. “Ms. Clara!” they eagerly exclaimed. “We watched the Transformers in the hotel room last night!" And so they rumbled on, anxious to tell me about their day. While listening I felt a little hand encircle mine and tug. “Ms. Clara, want to come see our daddy with us?” Victoria asked. “I’d love to come see your daddy with you." And off we went, off to exchange smiles and laughter with a soldier on the long road to recovery.


Once again. Thank You

It was the best of times, and the worst of times... but there should always be people with larger than life hearts around to help. Thank you, for the time and the story, and your heart.

You probably hear this often, but having spent the weekend at a hospital myself I just wanted to say "thank you" and that you are truly an angel.

good work, sister.

I don't know how you do it day after day--but thank God that you do!!!!

Ms. Hart, I'm not one to choke up easily, but your stories do it to me every time. Thank you for what you do for our soldiers, and thank you to our soldiers and their families. I only wish there was more we could do for them.

Ms. Hart, I'm not one to choke up easily, but your stories do it to me every time. Thank you for what you do for our soldiers, and thank you to our soldiers and their families. I only wish there was more we could do for them.

Thank you!!! Mil Gracias!!!

Dear Ms. Hart:
You are living, breathing proof of the existence of angels. Thank you so much for what you do for our wounded servicemen and women and their families!!

I'm another one who gets choked up at your posts. You have a huge heart with loads of compassion. My hats' off to you! Take care of yourself as well.

God Bless you and thank you for sharing that with us

as a VN and OEF veteran with a son-in-law on the roads in Iraq -- thank you and all around you for what you do.

as a VN and OEF veteran with a son-in-law on the roads in Iraq -- thank you and all around you for what you do.

You always make me cry, Clara. You're a great woman.

You know I have only cried at my best friends funeral, my Dad's funeral, and the day my not so little but still my angel-girl was born. And you make me tear up every time I read your posts. I don't know that I'll be let in the gates, but I surely know that there is a place reserved for you. God bless, Clara

One has to wonder if a name forcasts a person's destiny ? Hart = Heart?
(at least how we say it in RI! )


Please make sure that this mother knows that we have an entire section of kids movies at the Cause Digital Entertainment Library - available at no cost to her.

Clara, your kindness is what we should all aspire to...thank you for all your love and effort. And tell 'Daddy' his kids and wife are worth the struggle.

This is an interesting artickle. thanks

very nice story

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