Friday, August 25, 2006

The US Military is Broken

(Note: I transposed this from my handwritten notes on August 21, 2006)

I'm penning this as I sit in the ICU of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC).
My husband has been here over a month, and until I arrived, he hadn't had a good meal nor a good nights sleep. The military has sent him here to LRMC and does not have the decency to provide him with a clean, appropriate place to stay during his deployment.

Germany is an ultra-modern, Western country with all the modern conveniences, yet the military cannot find it fit to supply adequate lodging. He works 12 to 14 hours a day under absolutely tragic circumstances dealing with the never-ending parade of hideously damaged soldiers, and instead of clean, decent housing he has had to sleep in a rat-trap that had no sheets, is filthy, had urine on the floor, bugs, no towels, and broken furniture. There is no maid service. On his fourth day in Germany after returing from a CCAT mission to Iraq, he found a notice on the building that there was to be an 'inspection'. Are you kidding me? 'Food' is provided by the hospital cafeteria, and hospital food needs no explanation, not to mention we are both vegetarians. I could go on but I won't.

The young soldier who I wrote about several days ago that recieved the Purple Heart, I discovered more information about his attack. Two others were killed. They had both recieved Purple Hearts from a previous attack. They recieved their second Purple Hearts posthumously. They were on their 3nd deployment to Iraq. Our military DO NOT HAVE all they require. This is not limited to the soldiers, airmaen, sailors and marines out in the field, but continues to the most basic needs of all the people BushCo has sent to do their bidding in thier greedy quest to secure oil profits.

I attended another Purple Heart ceremony this morning. This soldier is 21 years old. He was hit in the back by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade). He has many pieces of shrapnel the size of a .22 bullet lodged in his spine. When he became conscious in the ICU, his first reaction was quiet tears rolling down his cheek that he was unable to wipe away, as his arms are semi-paralyzed. He is paralyzed from the mid-chest down. He is intubated, sedated and in tremendous pain. The officers moved into his ICU room and stood around his bed. The colonol who presented his medal called the room to attention. A sargent from his unit read the proclaimation from the secretary of the Army. This broken, young man did his best to come to attention and as the colonol thanked him for his service, gave'the speech' and saluted this soldier. This soldier did his best to bring his torture-racked body to attention and lifted his arm several inches off the bed in an attempt to return the salute. Tears began to run down my cheeks as they are now as I write this. I was asked after the ceremony if I was 'with' this soldier and I replied, "We are all with him".

On firedoglake, I've tried to 'check-in' as often as I can. My husband and I recieved have much moral support from the 'Lake'. I was asked by a 'regular' about female patients here at LRMC.
Women injured in combat are more infrequent but not unheard of. During my time here I haven't seen any women patients but I asked the the head of the ICU (Dr. D) about women SHE has seen in her two years at LRMC. She took a moment then told me a story about a female dog handler that lost a leg in an IED attack. This young woman awoke in the ICU without a leg, and her first question was, "How's my dog?" Her dog had died from the explosion of the IED. Dr.D became very somber and and said she wasn't sure if her powerful reaction was because in this young woman she saw herself, or just the mindless tragedy of it all.

I cannot fathom the depth of this topic and my experiences here in Germany adequately. What I know for certain is that too many of the military involved in this occupation and its many branches are either mindlessly compliant, delusionaly supportive, or too fearful and intimidated to speak out. They are reticent to discuss the politics of 'war' or occupation, very hesitant to question their "mission". In some regard who can blame them? They can't 'speak out' and that needs to be understood. They have to show up, if they lose focus they could die. The message I've tried to diseminate can be summed up in a single word, "November".

Post-post note: I have been asked about what we can do to support the soldiers and staff at LRMC. I have linked a website that takes donations of DVD's, CD's, books, clothes, etc. for patients and visiting staff at the hospital. When I arrived in Germany my husband had "There's something About Mary" in his laptop that was a donation to this organization. If you want to help, check them out:

Iraq War

A reader sends me this info as well:
Check them out and see if you would like to email a military member to cheer them.

"(Do you know of)...some good programs to send cards, books, etc to both staff and patients at Lands…(too tired to spell tonight) … are there any programs you find solid these days, or can we do anything to help the docs and nurses?" -from a regular at firedoglake


patrick said...

oh, man.

This is breaking my heart.

I hardly know what to say.

Nate said...

Ah swim... Like Patrick I barely know what to say. The pain I feel reading this is only eclipsed by the raging fiery fury I feel towards those who have put our Nation and these brave men in women in this position.

I gotta go walk a bit because my hands are shaking so hard it took me five minutes to type the first paragraph. I will feature this tonight and I'm going to leave it on the top post for a while.

Bless you swim. Bless everyone who would fight against this madness.

nonny mouse said...

Swim - I'm old enough to have protested in the Viet Nam war, a life-long anti-war pacifist. The difference this time is that the military itself - or at least those soldiers stuck without a voice - see us anti-war pacifists as allies, not enemies. I don't even have any quarrel with most of our military leaders, since there were a lot of generals who didn't want this war or, if it had to be forced on them, pleaded for the wherewithall to do it right.

My antipathy is reserved for those civilians in power, who have never served in a war, who know nothing of the realities, but want to impose not only their 'official reality' on the American public (and the world) but on the military. They want to pretend that war is a video game, where dead soldiers are just anonymous puffs of dust that disappear off the screen when they're no longer useful. They want to pretend that everything is going 'swimmingly', that everything is going 'as planned', that our military support THEIR goals, THEIR ambitions (which they have no intention, of course, of sharing with anyone outside their magic circle).

This is true treason - the misuse and abuse of our military is beyond shame. And it gives me a bit of heart to know that more and more of those with Iraqi sand in their military trouser pockets have more in common with us pacifist civilians wearing protest t-shirts and writing blogs than they do with a draft-dodging fake president in a flight suit with a sock stuffed down the front of his BVDs.

My best to you and your husband, you have my true admiration.

SteveAudio said...

Bless you for this.

mommybrain said...

Swimmy, dear heart, I'm going to go through our DVD collection and find some to send along. Bless you and the good Dr. for all you do.

DayngrGirl said...

I would urge you to link to and or incude they support not only active duty, currently deployed troops but those in hospitals as well. Hope this helps. They were the 1st to step in immediately after 9/11 and seem to be the one and only not in it for alterior motives.