Sam’s medical status: Sam is safe and sound in the VA Hospital in Palo Alto as of yesterday. The VA hospital was built in 1998 and is very beautiful and clean. We were there on a Sunday, so there wasn’t much staff around, but the nurses we met were very nice. Today Sam will be evaluated by the physical, occupational and speech therapist. He will then begin a weekly routine to bring him back to health.
The medivac flight to Travis AFB was very good—Sam was having nasal drainage issues the whole time which was making him very uncomfortable. Erin stayed up all Saturday night suctioning him every 10 minutes and ended up staying awake for 40 hours through the whole trip from Bethesda to Palo Alto. I’m glad to say that last night, she finally got a good nights sleep and is ready to take on the world again.
Although everything at the VA hospital is very foreign to Erin and she misses Bethesda terribly, she is feeling good about the move to Palo Alto and knows it is best for Sam.
One thing that struck me when I visited Erin and Sam yesterday was the vast difference in the age of the men being cared for at the VA hospital. I saw some young men who are probably still in their teens and I saw men that I’m sure are in their 80’s and possibly older. There was a picture in the hallway next to the day room that really put a lump in my throat. I found the same picture on the Internet and wanted to share it with you. Here is the quote from the picture (I’m not sure of the date, but it had to be within the last few years):
“Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas is overcome with emotion as he embraces Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. during the Veterans Day Commemoration in Dallas yesterday. Graunke, who was a member of a Marine ordinance-disposal team, lost a hand, leg and an eye while defusing a bomb in Iraq in July of last year . This week’s images of U.S. troops in combat in Fallujah deepened the day’s significance for many who attended tributes held in San Diego and across the nation.”