They Are Not Watching


Today was much slower with patients than yesterday, but I was very busy packing, unpacking, and sorting boxes.

Yesterday I helped a young man who was in a wheelchair. I’m not sure what his injuries were, but I’m guessing they were private in nature. He came to the hospital with only a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. The weather here has turned cold and rainy, so I knew when he came in he had to be cold. His liaison was talking with another volunteer on the other side of the clothes rack. The young man was just sitting there shaking from the cold.  I asked him if he wanted to put on the sweats pants and the zip up hood right then. He looked around and said he did not think he could. I smiled at him and whispered, “OH, they’re not watching, we can do this.” The zip up hood sweat shirt was easy, but the pants were another issue. We had to do both ankles at the same time then up his legs very slowly, but we got it! When we went around the clothes rack and he was dressed, everyone was shocked. I asked him about his shoe size and thank God we had his size. He could only wear one shoe at the time, but we slipped the other next to him in the chair. He had the biggest smile on his face. I was asked today why and what I got out of doing this? It was the smile on that kid’s face, just makes your heart ten times bigger.

I also realized today the number of our young men wearing hearing aids. It hit me after seeing about four of them come in back to back. I talked to one young man last week, but it was today I realized that we have a lot of them wearing hearing aids.

A patient I spoke with put a twist on the care packages they are receiving down range. I was explaining about the huge amount of toiletries that we have and he laughed and said they have several connex full at his camp. He said that the American people are very generous, but they have so much of it they can not give the stuff away to others in the field. He comes from a camp with a very small exchange. (For non-military here that means they have a very small store). He also explained that people give as if they were the only ones giving to a group, not realizing that there might be 200 or more other people that give to the same group of 100 deployed people. He asked me if I knew what 140 to 160 degrees inside a connex did to deodorant, shaving cream, or shampoo. He said that they have sent thank you letters to people thanking them for their support, and try to nicely say thanks but no thanks, but it still comes. He also explained that if the storage of those items was the only issue, then they could handle it a little easier, but all those boxes cause more convoys. Then he said with convoys come the risk of losing our buddies or our own lives for more of the same stuff that we don’t need. WOW, did that open my eyes a lot!! He was not the only one in the clothing closet and they were all in agreement with the amount of stuff they have at their camps, especially toiletries. One of the guys said if there was a group in the field that did not have any, WHICH HE DOUBTS, (He was at a FOB) he would rather see it go from site to site in the field then have resources wasted the way they are now.

I have done a lot of hmmmm’s since I have been here. Views from the hospital staff, liaisons, the drivers that transport the patients every day, the chaplains, the other Red Cross volunteers, and seeing how we all interact with the patients differently and the patients themselves. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!!!




Judy, I have a problem with releasing an address to 1,000’s or even 100’s of people. It puts her son in greater risk.

Chaplains are upset that their address is out there on as many sites as it is with incorrect needs of the clothing closet.

I know that a couple of the guys have come in complaining about a site that I know some of you use. They said at first they thought it was a good idea, but then once the address was out there, they could not turn the shipments off even tho their address was not being listed anymore. One marine said this morning that his group came into the field and “adopted” 3 connex full of stuff left from the previous group. They took it all out and destroyed it. They are giving stuff to the Iraq communities because they don’t have a need for it or it has gone bad in the heat.

We also discovered that Iraq seems to get more attention than Afghanistan. But there are places even there that have more than enough stuff. A Major this morning said they are receiving swiffer wet mops. He said, “what are we going to do with those, we don’t have floors.” The captain from Iraq said they did not need another package of baby wipes. From what I can figure out people are taking items from different lists or guessing and just filling boxes.

William, who is a member of this Yahoo group, spent his birthday in Iraq. I sent him 1 package for his birthday. I tried to make it items that I knew he would like and items he could share and enjoy with his friends. I don’t think receiving 2 or 3 thousand birthday cards so he would have to worry about anthrax would have been the way to go. I know that my space in my tent in Bosnia was VERY small (5×8). That space had my cot and had to hold all my gear; I sure would not have wanted two or three thousand cards in it. I can’t imagine how William did it at Christmas playing Santa for us.

I just know that unless I’m told exactly what a group needs; item 1, item 2, and item 3, we are not sending it. I’m not saying don’t give, we just have to do it smart.




This was the busiest day since I have been here. I got hit hard this morning with patients, sometimes up to eight or nine at the same time. I almost broke down and cried today with a patient but I managed to hold it and talk him through the pain spasm he was having, thank God! Just thinking about him brings tears to my eyes.

I am usually the only volunteer working in the morning; sometimes the only one working all day, which is usually not a problem, but this morning was difficult. I had a lot of patients in the clothing closet that I had been helping when this young man (28-32) came in and I knew right away I had to help him fast. I asked him to sit in the chair and I got him shoes. I was on one knee in front of him, when the pain hit bad, he leaned forward and put his forehead on my shoulder.  I whispered in his ear to breath slow and relax. I just kept talking him through the breathing. It took 3 or 4 minutes before we could get the second shoe on. He whispered in my ear, “I hate pain, I can’t take this.” I just wanted to take it for him. The only thing I could think of to whisper back was, “I know hun; it will get better trust me.”

I asked him if he needed a wheelchair back to the room and he said no they (the doctors) told him that he had to start walking. I told him that might be true but he did not have to do it all at once. We waited about a minute more and I helped him up and got him back to his liaison, but it took me a minute before I could turn around and go back into the clothing closet to help the rest of the guys. It was much quieter when I turned around and looked at everyone. I guess they might have been watching us.

In the afternoon, it let up a little bit. Then while I was waiting for the bus to come home, one of the liaisons had a patient whose humvee was hit with an IED. He needed clothing, but the chaplains had left for the day and I did not have the keys anymore. I sat and talked with him while they were trying to find out if they could find his bags from down range. His hands were badly burned and his face was slightly burned as well. He will be transported out very soon to the burn center. We sat and talked for about half an hour. He is from XXXXX and his family does not support what he is fighting for. He believes that this is something that we had to do for the people of Iraq and he HATES CNN. He said that was the worst thing when they came into the country.


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