I had a really interesting experience at the hospital today. The ward was packed when I arrived for my afternoon visit, almost every bed was full. I tried to spend 10 min or so with each patient, talking about home or sports or whatever topic seemed to interest them. I try to avoid talking about why they are in the hospital unless they seem to want to talk about it. Yesterday, for example, there was a very young marine who had stepped on an IED and he very obviously wanted to talk about his experience. He said he kept replaying those last few seconds in his mind over and over again, trying to make sense of what had happened.
Well my last visit of today was to a Loadmaster (the Air Force pilots) of a C-130. We started sharing "battle stories" and our conversation moved into the stresses of a deployment and PTSD. He shared with me a rather incredible story... he was the pilot who actually flew former NFL football player turned Army ranger Pat Tillman to FOB Salerno. This loadmaster said that after Pat was killed and his death made the news, he began to wonder just how many of the guys he had brought into country never came home. It was such a candid, honest conversation. He said quite frankly he didn't know when you reach the point that you just can't take anymore.