Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
It has been a fast paced crazy couple of days. I spent most of Tuesday trying to in-process. Each year the requirements to be a volunteer change. The Red Cross has taken over the volunteer program again at the Chaplain’s Clothes Closet (CCC). All volunteers must have a military id card, must be cleared through the Occupational Health, Security Office, take a HIPPA test, and go through Red Cross training. This process can take over three weeks.
Tuesday I worked with very few patients coming through the CCC. Most of Tuesday and Wednesday I worked in the store rooms. I met the Navy retired volunteer that receives our shipments here. When we were introduced he gave me a big hug and said to tell all of you a very big thank you! As in years past, there are many items that can not be used here. I took some of these items through the hospital asking staff and those waiting for appointments if they wanted any of them. Within about an hour, all the items on my little cart were gone. Tomorrow I plan to do the same thing. There are bins upon bins of items that are on the Do Not Send list that continues to be sent to LRMC. Storage space is prime real-estate here. We need to clear these items out so volunteers can store things that are needed on a daily basis.
Wednesday was spent working with a few more patients. I spent part of the day with a photographer in tow. The public affairs officer received an email from the Saturday Evening Post which is interested in doing a story about LHCP and they need pictures. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Guard and local VFW post provide pizza and sandwiches for the wounded and ill troops after the CCC closes. I leave the CCC and head over to the other building to help set up and spend some time talking with wounded warriors.
The Chaplain’s office has tours for the wounded warriors on Thursday and Saturdays; so Thursday was spent directing wounded warriors from one location to another and making sure we did not lose anyone. These tours are one program that I believe is extremely important for the wounded and ill. This 5- or 6- hour trip gets patients away from the hospital environment and gives them a chance to feel healthy and normal. They may walk with a limp, be on crutches, or have braces; but during the tour they are more normal than many of them have felt in months of deployment or days at LRMC. The mornings that we leave for these trips, the wounded and ill sit around without speaking to each other. By the time we pull back up to the hospital, they have formed some great relationships with others going through the same thing they are. These trips allow the door to be opened for communication with others that have been through the same experience and feelings.
I have met some Georgian military. Many of us do not realize that there are many countries supporting our U.S. military in Afghanistan. One of those is the Georgian Armed Forces. They are a staunch ally of the United States with approximately 2,000 serving in Afghanistan – that is a huge contribution of military troops from a very small country. They work directly with our marines in some of the worst areas of Afghanistan. One member of the Georgian military is stationed at LRMC as the liaison for their wounded that arrive here. Two Georgian doctors escorted Georgian wounded to LRMC. One is the brother of a Georgian ICU wounded warrior. It does not matter the country our wounded warriors are from, if you are called to be by the bedside of a loved one it is never good. None of the patients, nor the brother, speaks English and I can not imagine the stress that must add to a already stressful situation.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I worked a combined total of 34 hours, thanks to the support of the Dawejko family. They tracked me down early this week to bring me bottled water and goodies.