Saturday, March 29, 2008

Iraq War Vet: "You're not allowed to rest your mind."

The Medical System’s Looming Military-Related Demands

It has taken me a little time to process what I heard, saw and felt at the last session on Friday. Meeting Corpsman Jose Ramos (ret.), who lost his left arm in the Iraq conflict and Military Times writer Kelly Kennedy really served to open my eyes and confront head on the demands on us to care for our soldiers serving in this conflict. As the sister of an Iraq "war" vet and the niece of a retired Command Sgt. Major, it is of particular interest to me to hear from those on the front line about what they are doing for the people who put their lives in danger and their families who must cope with loss, catastrophic injuries and the stress of having a family member in the war theater.

Let me say that red tape is not a friend of mine, and neither is bureaucracy. Hearing from Gerald Cross, M.D., principal deputy undersecretary for health, Veterans Health Administration, was illuminating in its positivity. The idea that things are going so well and just improving and improving for our vets and soldiers still in-conflict just didn't jive and struck me as more of the smoke and mirrors that catapulted us into this war in the first place.

"We have no greater priority than the care of these veterans," Dr. Cross said. And because I believe him, I want to know why there are still so many problems and why the country and the military was ill-prepared to care for the wounded and walking wounded and those whose wounds don't show.

As Ramos put it: "You're not allowed to rest your mind."

Kennedy definitely brought it home for me. As an Army veteran and someone who has been with the troops first hand, she has a perspective that is unique among wartime journalists. She talked of visiting a unit that experienced an attack with a 500-pound IED that rolled over a Bradley vehicle. They watched as a member of their unit was trapped under the Bradley and burned alive; they watched as a female MP was decapitated by an RPG, Kennedy said.

"I know we’re five years in and we weren’t prepared for this war," Kennedy said. "Shouldn’t we have a handle on it. I guess I’ll just leave it at that."

So will I.

1 comment:

Ariana Richardo said...

When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

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