If your looking to read something witty or a great adventure....just stop now. Today's writing is much more somber.
My day was filled with emotions. Today, was one of many days that we are sending injured soldiers home to the States. The difference is that today, I was a part of it (if only as an observer for most of it). I've followed nurses on the floor for the past several days and interacted with several of the patients on my floor. Today, two of them got to go home. From a nursing standpoint, there is a lot of work that goes into getting these soldiers home. Everything has to be planned and orchestrated just right in order for a soldier to keep his/her place on the flight. Just one mistake and they can't go....imagine how disappointing that would be.
Just before we wheeled the patients to the holding area, they were presented a Quilt of Valor. It's pretty simple, really. Just a small quilt, just large enough to cover. It's the story behind the quilts and the look on the soldiers face when presented it that is really important. The story that was told to me is that a mother made a quilt and sent it to her son and all his buddies liked it and wanted one. From there, the organization Quilts of Valor was born. The quilts are all made with love and each one has a note to the soldier on the back, including and who it came from.. It all seemed kinda cheeky to me until we presented one and the nurse told the soldier 'it's like a hug from home' . The look of appreciation and homesickness on the soldiers face was indescribable...
After all the paperwork and prep; I followed one of our patients to the holding area where they would board a bus that would take them to the plane. Some of these soldiers will have a very long trip in front of them. They start the day early; having to be in the holding area by 0830. The more critical patients (ICU) are transported at 1100. From the holding are, they are loaded onto buses that will carry them to another holding area at the airport. The flight doesn't actually leave until early afternoon. Then the soldiers are in-flight for 9 hrs with many of them catching another flight in the states to continue the trip home.
It's frustrating how removed we are in the states from what is happening here. These men and women are flying in daily with a myriad of injuries: gunshot wounds, blast wounds, some with minor injuries and some with injuries and amputations that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Some of the wounds are deeper....unseen....emotional, that will haunt them forever. I feel ashamed that over the past several years I haven't given these men and women much thought at all.....
I'll just leave you with one thought: No matter how you feel about what is going on with the War, if you happen to run across a soldier....PLEASE...acknowledge them....thank them...or at least smile to them. Their sacrifices are many.