Today is Saturday and it was a little busy, but not like the old days of 2007 when it was non-stop patients. If I had to guess, I’d say we had 22 patients today. One young man was a return from yesterday, he looked much better than he did a short 24 hours ago. He has a spot on his face that got infected. No one seems to know how or why, but they had to put a stitch in and the swelling has gone down a lot. He will be heading back to his unit in a few days.
I talked to another young man today that volunteered to work here at LRMC. His battle buddy died a while back and since he also has a war injury, he can not go back to the Middle East. He said he has only been to one military funeral and that was his friends and that he will never go to another.
So many of these kids are looking for their lives to be affirmed, they want to know that their lives have value and that they are valued by others. Unfortunately, in today’s world, that does not happen as often as it should. Many of them feel alone, worthless, and lost. I still find it amazing that after all these years, we still do not touch enough lives with the passion we have to support, care, and even love them. The more lives we can touch, the more confident they become and just maybe we can help with the healing process. Not just physically, but with mental health problems.
It is nice to see any of our men and women come into the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center, but it is disheartening to hear that they do not believe they are worthy of all the items people from across our country and the world have sent.
We must never get tired of doing what is right. We might not be able to bandage their wounds, but we do have a hand in whether they are broken-hearted. We must use our experiences and talents to help heal them. Not just now, but for years to come – just as if they were your own child.
As I was leaving tonight, a man came in that seemed burned out – lost and confused. As the LNO was telling him how to go about filling his bag with clothing, the look on his face was, “I am hearing you, but I have no clue what you are telling me.” I smiled at him and told him not to worry, I was there to help.
Most of the LNO’s, nurses, chaplains, and doctors here are great, but I think that many of them handle the stress of what they see by shutting down. At times, the exhaustion and failure to push on is just too great. It is not just the patients that are tapped out emotionally, mentally, and physically; but also the staff that care for them. They do not see a patient in front of them that is also burned out and lost. They see a patient with an infection, a lost hand, or heart problems.
This is where LHCP can help. This is where we need to really concentrate on only sending the items and quantities that staff members need and/or want. When we send items they can not use or want, we cause another hassle in their lives that they do not need. We have to be open to listening and not just talking. We have to stop and not tell our story, but listen to their stories. Sometimes just to have someone listen is the greatest healing tool available to us. Visit a VA hospital, join a veteran’s organization and just listen to the stories. You will accomplish much and possibly heal more than the visible wounds.
I was hurt today when a young man told me he could not share his story. He felt people would know how horrible a person he was for some of the things he had done. He had shut down and bottled it inside. After touching his arm, I told him I wanted to hear his story. I wanted to know anything he wished to tell me. I was not going to pass judgment on anything he had done, that we all have done things we may not be proud of in war or our normal lives, but I wanted to be a part of his life and his story. Due to OPSEC, I can not tell you his story, but when he was finished he asked to hug me. He said he didn’t know he would feel so much better just saying it out loud and having someone listen. I told him that he may have to tell the story several more times to really be able to heal. He said that he was no longer afraid to talk to someone about those things that he felt horrible about. When you just sit and listen, you allow a person to tap into your strength, protection, and love. What greater gift can we give than a part of ourselves? What greater gift than to not pass judgment on actions we have not lived through ourselves.
I worked 6 hours today. Thank you Anne Dankberg, for your contribution to the work-a-thon.
I am tired and need to recharge my own battery. Tomorrow is Sunday and I will not be working.