Today we had very nice weather, not too hot and not too cold. I was invited to see the patients’ bus unload this morning, so I went to see if any of our pillows came off. I did not see any of our pillows, but I did see our thermal weave blankets on two ICU patients. The blankets were very well worn and I do not know what hospital they had come from, but I am guessing we will have to do a blanket fund drive in September for the winter months again.
The patients that came off the first bus were covered with medical equipment. I saw our blankets as their feet came off the bus, then all the equipment, and then as the front of the litter came off, I could see part of each patient’s face. I stood there and swallowed hard. I felt my heart in my throat and I immediately thought of the phone call the family would receive or maybe they had already received, the call that no family wants to receive. I remembered back when 5 of our family members were serving at one time in the Middle East and what each night felt like as I tried to close my eyes and pray that none us would get “the call.” As I watched the 4 litter patients come off the bus, I thought of those families and I hope that each of them would know that as I stood there my heart went out to them. Then I thought it was such a stupid thought, since they would never know I was there and they would never feel my respect, the admiration I have for their loved ones, how much this country is indebted to their children. So, I turned and went back to work without saying a word to anyone.
I am still working on the shipment that came in Wednesday and Thursday. So much of the shipment was ruined that it has to be thrown away. You just can’t ship pens, pencils and paper with snacks and juice bags.
The stress level some of these kids hold inside is tremendous. One told me the other day that they feel more relaxed in the Middle East than back home. When I told him that was a normal reaction, I thought he was going to cry. I think most family members think that when they come home they are going to feel safe and all will be ok. But the level of fear can actually be higher than in the war zone.
Service members in a war zone build a trust with their battle buddies that can be closer than a relationship between spouses or other family members. This can cause problems with a service member’s ability to trust and be emotionally connected to those they were close to before leaving for the Middle East. Once this starts, the family feels disconnected and pulls away, and then the service member becomes more stressful and less likely to trust and the circle grows and grows.
The service member may feel that if they share their story with their loved ones they will be rejected. I had one that emailed me about 18 months ago that would not go to his family reunion or BBQ’s. He felt that they were all watching them to see if he was going to “Go Nuts.”
The guilt that many of them carry with them is extreme. They can feel guilt that none of us might think would be a good reason to do so, but it is a strong and true feeling for them. I think that group support with other military members is the most effective treatment. I have seen it work with great success.
Today I had a change of scenery and went to the Ramstien CASF. We will be picking them up to support after I return. The guy in charge was very happy to know that we could supply most of what they needed.
I have heard from 3 patients this past week that insurgents in Iraq have started concentrating on mail convoys. I was told that they are leaving US troops alone more or less and hitting the supply convoys. I guess if they can’t get us one way they will try another.
I am tired and it is time for bed. Today I worked 8.5 hours thanks to the support of Peg Seljeskog of Rapid City, SD.