This past weekend I was able to travel to visit our Wounded Warriors at Bethesda Naval Hospital. As I was traveling back and forth on train, I decided to capture my thoughts so I could share them with you. Hopefully you will be enlightened from my experiences. It was absolutely a magnificent day in the life of the Sky Angel. J
04:04am 30Oct 2010
Yesterday I flew in to Philadelphia amidst concern from all the employees at the Cincinnati airport because there was a terrorist plot onboard cargo aircraft. Apparently cargo shipped out of Yemen to different continents supposedly had bombs onboard. One of the ticket agents told me they actually did find explosives on a jet bound for the states, but I am uncertain where they ascertained the aircraft. Something like that could shut down airline traffic again, like 9/11 did.
The thought of that makes me appreciate the efforts of our military all the more. So many sacrifices are made daily to protect each and every one of us. Getting up at 3am to catch a 4am train out of Trenton, NJ seems like nothing in comparison. The heavy bags I am carrying containing the cards made by the students at Taylor Mill Elementary School students, along with stuffed TIGGER toys I purchased for the Wounded Warriors seem like nothing in comparison to what the troops carry on a daily basis.
What a blessing it is to be able to finally see my friend again, as it has almost been a year since I met her in Southern California. Her ability to comfort families who have lost service members to war is amazing. The characteristics she holds to be able to handle the grief is more than what I believe I am capable of, on a regular basis. Her husband, is a Marine and I will be meeting him today along with two of their friends. We are all going to volunteer together, and I am thankful for the support of others on an adventure like this.
My heart truly goes out to those who have been injured in the line of duty. It will be interesting to see the differences between visiting the troops in Germany at Landstuhl, compared to them now having been at home and seeing their families. May the day be blessed and God use my body as a vessel of His light and love.
0600 30Oct 2010
The train is packed full of folks heading to the “Sanity Rally” held at the National Mall at our Nations’ Capital. Not sure what it all means, but people on here are from all over the country. They said there will be over 400,000 people in attendance to bring sanity back to our dysfunctional country. Just curious, do they really think a rally is going to do that? Lol
0900 30October 2010
Arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital and unable to go in without an escort. Although I was supposed to be on the “list”, my name was not there. My friends called ahead and got some guy to come get me at the guard shack. He was so funny because he said “we don‘t allow average civilians in to visit the Wounded, so you must be something special“. Some might say I am “special” alright (hehehe) , but in this case I actually think it is just because I will be with a couple of Marines and that is what gives me access. hahaha
Inside the building there is a lot of excitement because the Marine Corp Marathon is going on tomorrow. In addition, there are several patients here receiving Purple Heart medals today. Currently I am sitting in the Marine Corp holding room at the hospital. I guess this is where they keep track of their branch of the service and those who are volunteering, or special programs. There is one person here right now, who is trying to coordinate the days events, so I am hiding out in the corner and not being a nuisance with all my questions. J
4:25pm 30October 2010
Just got on train from WA DC to head back to Trenton, NJ. There are police EVERYWHERE because of the rally and the Marine Corp Marathon tomorrow. The police were rude and abrupt, but I get it they are all just trying to keep us safe on the transit systems.
The visit today with the Wounded Warriors was limited to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, as with all the traffic we simply ran out of time. We were able to visit with probably 20-30 wounded, and it was amazing to hear their stories of valor, honor, and courage. Every single one of them was grateful to us for taking the time to visit with them. Even the ones who seemed withdrawn, lit right up when they saw their stuffed TIGGERS I found and the cards I brought from the students at Taylor Mill Elementary School. There really are no words to describe how it felt to have someone who just had their legs amputated looking at me with a smile of gratitude for taking the time to see them. Every single guy responded with “it is my honor” when I thanked them for their service and sacrifices. I’m just humbled!
The experience was completely different from what was experienced at the USO at Landstuhl. Here the heroes have the support of their loved ones and family members surrounding them. That is the intermediate stop of their treatment before going on to the states, after their injuries. A couple of them shared with me the stories they could remember about being treated at the Combat Surgical Hospitals “in theatre”. It was reassuring to be told that supporting the staff at those hospitals and the Wounded is as important as I have thought it was over the years. Many of them also seem to find comfort knowing their battle buddies being in the bed next to them, or in the next room. There are many here from the same unit, from an ambush that injured 11 out of 15 of them (if I got the story right). It was sad to hear the stories, but I have to admit that I never once felt a twinge of pity. It was more a sense of loss … of what they sacrificed … mentally, physically, and emotionally.
One of them actually told me that he willingly would go into battle again and get blown up by another IED, if it meant the bomb could not harm me or those I love. He said “if we were not in the hell hole over there, we would be living in hell over here.” Most people just don’t get it, but I do. All I have to do is think about 9/11.
As we were walking the halls, putting on sterilized gowns and gloves, I was told the Commandant of the Marines was on property. Later in the afternoon, he walked over and asked about my dog tags. I explained they actually contained my medical alert information, and he said “if I was allergic to all that stuff ma’am, I would just ask one of my commanders to shoot me on the spot”. (hahaha) His wife, Bonnie and him both were fascinated to find out why I was there, and offered to take a photo with me. How cool is that? Commandant Amos, was just sworn into office, and he is talking with me just a few days later? God moments, I tell you. Blessings we never would have been able to imagine.
To top it off, I text messaged LCPL Max Bernstein (one of the heroes of the USMC I became friends with after he contacted me when he saw me on the news, and I have supported the past year) to tell him I met the Commandant. He texted that he was in DC and we were able to meet at the train station. Whooo whoo … how awesome … we got to meet face to face. It was beautiful! AND because we didn’t go to Walter Reed, I had a TIGGER I could give to him. Yeah! Nice surprise to share with him! J
The time spent visiting the troop and Max was priceless. There is so much blood, sweat, and tears that is shed every single day in the name of freedom.
As someone who has traveled the world, I have a true appreciation for the ability to walk freely through the streets without having to show identification or the constant fear of imminent harm. However, I realize danger does exist in the world. Looking into the eyes of those who have paid significant prices to ensure the terrorists are dealt with in far away lands, brings me comfort. How ironic is that?
The reason I go to visit, is to bring them comfort and encouragement. They are laying in a hospital bed, with wounds that may or may not be seen by the human eye, and am given a sense of purpose and enlightenment that is probably much greater than anything I could ever give them in return. My heart is full of gratitude for the plethora of blessings … and without a doubt, I will continue to honor the service of our brave men and women in uniform, every single day of my life.
One of them said today “not everyone could come in and see the stitches and staples in my leg, or not be bothered by how I look right now, thank you for having compassion and caring”. Funny thing was, I never saw his injuries at all.
As I said to each family member and Wounded Warrior, I will continue to pray for endurance for each of them. There is a long road ahead with prosthetics, pain management, and the psychological effects these types of traumatic injuries bring. It is virtually impossible for me to fathom what it is like to be injured by a roadside bomb or IED. As I said to the General, it is not about the war, it is about supporting the warrior … and my mind is filled with every spectrum of the day, as my heart is full of gratitude.