Today was quite a rewarding, but really draining day. My teammate Terra and I went out to run some errands in the afternoon and we’re thrilled to find the home of the Combat Stress Dog. We found Sgt Timmy, the yellow lab, hanging out at the Freedom Restoration Center which is a little bit like Kanyon Ranch. Servicemembers who are having a particularly difficult time can “check themselves in”. They have 6 male and 6 female spots and they essentially “provide education and practical application of techniques focused on resiliency, adopting to stress reactions, enhancing communication skills and promoting rapid restoration to enhance management of combat and operational stress reactions.” Basically they hang out in a safe environment, play sports, play with the puppy and try to help people find themselves again. Terra and I stayed to play with Timmy for a while and then headed to the hospital for our daily visit.
At the hospital we ran into the female interpreter that was working with the Afghan women yesterday. We asked her if she was free to speak to us for a bit and so we went into a break and she told us about how she was raised in a very different Afghanistan that what we know now. She never wore a burka, had a college education and had lived in the US for 17 years. She explained to us how the Egyptian Hospital worked, that the women who came to see the doctor were so uneducated that they could only say, for example, they may have a pain in their stomach and it turns out to be a kidney stone. The women don’t know about nutrition or sanitation which is one thing the Hospital is trying to combat. I asked her if the women wanted to wear the burka and she said overwhelmingly no. The women complain of getting sick from breathing in the scent and fibers of the fabric. I could have stayed and talked with this woman all day long, but sadly we had to get back to the office.
Later that night, after my shift I went to help with an outbound/inbound Medivac, which are back to back flights to take the patients out on one bus , load them onto the plane and then wait for the inbound mission to arrive to take them to the hospital. The Medivac tonight was really very emotionally draining. There were maybe a dozen ambulatory patients, 4 litters and 2 CKats (on full life support). One of the CKat patients was a solider in the unit behind our office. He was the gunner in an MRAP which rolled twice and he was essentially crushed to death and brain dead. Four of the guys from his unit, who are friends of ours all showed up to carry his litter onto the plane, the closest thing to family this solider has out here. As rewarding as the experiences are, and there’s no doubt that I will continue with them, they are profoundly exhausting. They really test the fibers and substance of your heart and your soul.