I've been in the Air Force for 12 years. I'm not a grunt, I don't sit on the front lines, and my job isn't to kill people. Instead, my job is to
transport our wounded warriors out of harms way and to a higher echelon of care....Aerovac, as we call it.
I've tended to some of the most horrific injuries you can imagine. I've seen these men and women fight through battles far more difficult than what
they ever saw in the field.
One of the first patients I ever transported was a 19 year old Marine. We were flying on a C-17 from Iraq to Germany. If my memory serves me correct
it was about a 6-7 hour flight. However, I've flown on so many missions my flight times aren't always accurate in recollection. This young man had
his left leg and right hand amputated, over 30% burns to his body, blast wounds to his face which required bilateral eye patches in an effort to save
We were about an hour into flight when the crew began making meals for the patients. I knew the Marine would be unable to eat on his own, so I made
sure to add some extra time into my nursing care plan to ensure that I had time to feed him. Tears were running out of the eye patches from the pain
he was in, as he refused pain medication. He said his family had a history of addiction problems and he was determined not too, and he was afraid
pain meds would send him down that road.
I took his meal too him, got close to his ear so I could tell him what was on the menu (C-17's aren't as loud as other aircraft, but still difficult
to hear). I told him to tell me what he wanted a bite of, and I'd feed it to him. He was a proud man, who was still in shock. Not so much in shock
of his injuries, but in shock because he knew he would never be able to fight with his brothers in arms again. He knew that some of those brothers
were on the plane with him. He refused to be fed, because he didn't want to cast the appearance of weakness to his brothers. I put the fork in his
non-dominate left hand and watched as he slowly consumed every bit of that food.
It was an amazing sight, and I was incredibly proud of him for having the courage and bravery to sacrifice all that he had and still uphold the duty
of being a Marine.
I've been on planes that have been shot at with small arms, popped flares for RPG's, and pulled some serious G's with combat landings in Iraq. I've
always considered it a cake walk compared to what that young Marine was going through and it's my honor to help as many wounded warriors as I can.
With that said, there is a growing fatigue within our forces. That fatigue is not only caused by this long war that many of us have felt was over
years ago, but also the fatigue we face here in the states. We are a pawns of a government that is lost from reality and we know it, yet we have an
obligation to uphold our end of a contract we all signed. We are fatigued from the ever worsening image that Vets face. The look of pride that once
fell upon us from our fellow citizens is slowly becoming a look of concern and sometimes disgust. All for doing what was once considered a great
PTSD is a real thing. Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Marines don't have to see combat to suffer from it. It can be as simple as being deployed for
6-12 months away from your family that causes PTSD. It's not easy, and I always say that no matter where the military sends you, no matter what
branch you're in or what you do....being away from your loved ones is a universal pain we all feel.
Support systems exist both within our military gates and outside of them. And they are improving. In the Air Force, we have the wingman concept.
Where everyone should be a wingman and look for signs and symptoms of those who are suffering. But the harder we try to make things better, the more
programs that are implemented for us to go to....it seems the more the suicides and active shootings occur. It's' a difficult thing to fathom, and I
personally don't have any answers or suggestions other than to say that humanity must prevail. We can't come home and be looked at as an outcast, or
a pawn, or a threat. But as it is...we are, we probably always have been to a very small percentage, and we probably always will be. Or maybe, 10
years from now (if we can go that long without war), the pain will subdue itself and this dark shadow that is looming over us will open up to sunny
edit on 8-4-2014 by Assassin82 because: (no reason given)