It Is The Not Knowing

The last day is finished and I have mixed feelings.

Glad to be going home so we can hit the ground and get these items out to where they need to go and start raising some money but sure going to miss these guys and gals.

Friday I had a senior enlisted member come in and after getting his bag filled he asked me for shoes. I went in the back to see if we had his size and we were in luck. While he was trying them on I noticed that his legs were shaking really bad. When I bent down to put the shoes in his bags I put my hand on his knee and asked him if he was ok. He told me it was the not knowing what was wrong. Then he burst into full tears. I moved in front of him and he hugged me. He told me it was his heart and he was scared. I asked him if he had just come in that day and he said yes. I told him to let us wait for the doctors to do their test and make a decision before we worried. I told him that stress could cause lots of problems and that being down range caused enormous stress on the body and soul.

I told him I was in Bosnia and I understood the senior position he was in. He started crying again. He leaned forwarded and starting hugging me again. I told him that this was his time to take care of himself. I asked him to take some slow deep breaths with me, which we did. I asked what time his appointment was and since it was in 10 min I got him inside and showed him how to get to where he needed to go. Later in the afternoon he came back and was smiling. I just knew it was not as bad as he thought. He said that the one test turned out good and the other was not so bad. That he had more test on Monday but he felt much better. We gave each other a hug over the good news and he promised to take the news as it came. Then after about 5 more minutes of talking he said “You know I don’t even know your name.” I smiled and told him Karen. He told me his name. He comes in now after each test to give me the updates. He will be going back home to have his thyroid taken out but he is ok with that.

It is the leaving his guys in the field that is difficult and gives him the guilt that we talked about today. This baggage is not as easy to get rid of and talk through. On one hand they know that they have to take care of themselves but that guilt does a lot of eating up inside. They feel they are worthless if they can’t be with their unit doing their job. Add to that the desire to protect their friends and not have one fall or God help them another one fall in the line of duty and the guilt is difficult. Physically they are here but mentally they are still in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I think I have seen a good many patients with bad shrapnel wounds, spinal injuries, burns, limbs missing, eye sight and hearing loss, broken bones, gun shot victims, and those that need mental support one thing remains the same. They all want to know they are supported, loved, cared about and that the American public knows that they are doing good things. I have listen to so many young and old talking on the phone with loved ones back in the States talking about divorce. Spouses not wanting to wait, not understanding, or just not being able to handle being alone. It is sad to hear a man plead for his wife not to file divorce papers or a woman to hear that her husband cheated.

Support goes from the packages we send to the emotional knowledge that our loved ones will be there when we get back, to supporting those left at home. If you know someone that is alone and trying to make it while their spouse is deployed, step in as a babysitter so they can go to the store without the kids, take them out to dinner to let them talk, pay for a hair dresser appointment, the list goes on and on.


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