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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.