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.

INCOMING WOUNDED |

December 23, 2010

Name: RN Clara Hart
Stationed in: a civilian military hospital in the U.S.
Milblog: From Our Perspective

“Does this guy have legs?” came the question. 

“Um. . .yeah, I think so,” was my response.

My coworker and I were in the midst of setting up for incoming wounded arriving from Afghanistan. It wasn’t a surprising query, because lately most of our WIA troops have been coming in minus their legs. I can remember when a patient without legs was a cruel oddity. Now we look and say “Oh, he’s only lost his legs.” As cold and cynical as that may sound, we are seeing such an increase in triple and even quadruple amputees that we have developed a tendency to downplay the loss of a young man’s legs.

The wounded arrive in numbers I haven’t seen since Fallujah; the sheer magnitude and severity of wounded warriors flooding in is overwhelming. But have you heard this on the evening news? CBS did an awesome two-part story on wounded Marines this past week, but it's rare that you see anything about our troops on mainstream media.

Recently while caring for an injured soldier I asked him why he joined the military. His answer: “Because I didn’t want another man fighting for my family’s freedom.” As 2010 comes to a close I want to remember some very special men; men who fought for their families' freedom.

M.S.
A man with many friends, one of whom tried desperately to visit him. In an email posted on the wall of his hospital room this particular friend wrote, “I’m trying really hard to get there but I don’t have enough money for a plane ticket right now. I looked online and found out you’re only 12 hours away by car but I can’t rent a car because you have to be 24 years old. But I’m gonna try dude, I’ll come up with a way to get there. I love you M. Hang in there and stay strong.”  M.S. died before his friend could come and see him.

M.L.
Not even old enough to legally drink. His image was captured on camera while deployed: a single photo showed a grinning boy-man in a lighthearted moment holding a puppy to his chest. The boy-man I saw lying in a hospital bed bore little resemblance. His body half blown away, we knew when he arrived he would be with us only long enough for his family to say goodbye. 

R.J.
Voluntarily deployed to Afghanistan in hopes of earning enough money to pay off family debts. A husband and a father a dozen times over, placed in an unforgiving and fatal circumstance.

D.W.
A man who climbed into a helicopter and flew into dark, dangerous skies in hopes of saving those who had no other resource. A man who knew the meaning of and had more than earned the two little green feet tattooed on his body. A man who gave his life so that others might live.

R.A.
A Marine who asked his father to make the most difficult decision ever, but a decision that honored his wish: “If I can’t drink a beer or ride my Harley with you anymore then let me go.” And so the father did and the son died on the same day as he was born.

M.G.
From a family looking for a better life, a family who clearly were very poor. One in which a father so worried about losing his job if he took time off that he couldn’t even be at his son’s bedside as the son lay dying. My heart broke as I watched the wizened grandfather sitting outside the room of his grandson, brushing away the tears streaming unapologetically down his face.

These are the men who fought for their families' freedom, and many, many other men and women just like these gave their lives this year for our freedom. I pray that all of them were carried by the angels to God’s awaiting arms.

Comments

Amen sister.

Good to see you back here, and thank you.

Once again, Clara has brought home the fact that our Military men and women are paying a price for our freedoms. "Thank you" seems so inadequate when the images her words bring overwhelm the senses. Yet, those words are all we have.

Thank you, Clara.

But more importantly...Thank you Warriors!

Words cannot express the deep sorrow that is experienced. The general populace could not fathom the truth that you live every day. Old men send young men off to die for country and flag. Unfortunately, soon there will not be enough of the one to understand the perils faced by the other. We who remain home seldom, if ever, want to know the truth.
Thank you for the truth, albeit a very limited sampling. Most would be horrified were they to be told the ones you will not share. Thank you for that sensitivity.
I cannot express how indebted I feel to you and the other "Angels" that care for the Warriors and their families. We cannot compensate you, the wounded, the fallen nor their families for the sacrifice. What can anyone give for their freedom?
"Thank you" sounds so hollow and inadequate. But, it is the only thing that can be proffered.

Clara, you are still at it! Wow. You do impossibly difficult work. With your skills and experience, you could easily go somewhere else, where you could still help and service others, but without the gut wrenching tragedy. But you have stayed at your post and continue to be witness for us of the terrible price of war. Peace to you my sister, peace and healing. Peace to the families you serve who have lost loved ones. I will remember you and those you have brought to our attention, as I celebrate Holy Eucharist this night, when we remember the birth of the the Prince of Peace. God bless you. May you be at peace. May you be whole as you do your holy work.

Clara,
Thank you for writing. I've missed you.
You are an endless source of inspiration in the face of unspeakable sorrow.
Blessings,
jae

How does this massive drain of courage, commitment and character help us back home? Why are we in these wars? These are the people our society most need- folks of long term vision willing to put themselves in harm's way for a larger good. Willingness to go into hell is a high bar. Why must these folks stay deployed on another continent? We need them here. I don't understand.

Hmm, I watch too much main stream media, and miss you telling me like I know it is. What America does can be seen, if one opens their eyes and looks. Need to get out and look. Thank you for the proper summary of the year and its cost; love, care and share. Earl

Have not visited this blog for a while. Loved finding you here again , Clara. Strangely happy that you are still carrying on your work with these often broken and dying service members and their families.

Even though we do not get to hear about them all the time, we do know that the wars go on. Until we can find peace in this world, I hope you can find a moment of it in your soul. Thank you so much for the chronicle of these lost lives and for your ongoing service.

I found myself very moved by this. Each one choked me up. Most people seem to be trying to ignore the wars that those men died fighting.

Thank you for reminding us of the true cost.

I hope that you can find the peace you deserve for doing what you do.

Thank you for enlightening and sharing; and for your incredible courage and compassion. I wish your posts were required reading in high schools. Mary

for our freedom? I doubt it.

Amazing tips! Searching for work can really be difficult. Opportunities don't just come knocking frequently. Right now, you even need to come up with strategies that get you head and shoulders above the rest. What I found most helpful was having a software program from which you can organize your work. This will make the whole process a lot easier.

I have never visited any of these types of blogs before and I just want to say I am so thankful that my English professor assigned the class to go to this site. I just want to say thank you for serving for us!!

Clara, you brought tears to my eyes. This was a beautifully written tribute to some soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. God bless you for doing the job that you do and for being with these men and woman at the end of their journeys. It takes a special person with immense compassion to work in the field that I am assuming you work in. From the information that you were able to give in this blog, it is easy to see the genuine care and interest that you take in every individual that you have dealings with. So again, God bless you and God bless every one of our men and women putting their lives on the line so that we may all be free.

I just read your article and I really feel for all of the soilders and their families. It's easy to sit here on my laptop, comfortably on my couch, and forget about what others give up for me. I know your article is about remembering those who died for our contry, but I want to give thanks to the other unsung heroes also. People always talk about the soilders on the battle field, which they deserve to be thanked, but so do others. People who aren't see in the headlines everyday, such as the people like you, the nurses, and Doctors, and others who devote their time and lives to our country. You deserve thanks too!
Geoff

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