Hidden Wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan

scars from IraqScars from Iraq:  There’s an interesting article on the msnbc web site titled, 1 in 5 returning troops may have brain injury.  Many of our troops are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with not only missing limbs, burns and bullet wounds, but also some injuries that are not easy to see like PTSD and TBI.  In the same article there is an audio slide show entitled Scars from Iraq.  Some returning troops are interviewed about their struggles to return back to a normal life after sustaining various injuries in the Middle East.  The interviews were very interesting and well done.  Please watch them when you have time.  We need to understand the struggles and sacrifices our troops are making for our country. 

Blog from Iraq:  Sam was mentioned in one of the leading military blogs Badgers Forward recently.  It was a note from Sam’s father, Eric.  The men of Kilo Battery have quite a connection with the the author of this blog (he is an Army Captain stationed in Iraq) because he was at the memorial service for the three Marines and Navy Corpsman who were killed in the IED blast that injured Sam.  See the Fallen Heroes of Kilo tab in this blog for his description of the memorial service in Iraq.

Administrative Notes:  I’ve updated the “Sam’s Status” page, which can be accessed from the top menu on this site.  If you would like to get an overall picture of Sam and Erin’s journey from the beginning up to this point in time, check out that page.

We’ve also gone over 50,000 hits on this blog as of about 5:30PM on Thursday.  The number is a little misleading because there are about 125 people who receive the blog updates via email.  In either case, the numbers are still a testament to the many faithful friends, family and well wishers who continue to check up on Sam and Erin on a regular basis. 

I also want to mention, or remind all of you that you can leave comments related to each post.  Many of you already do this on a regular basis, and it is very comforting to get notes from all of you.  To leave a comment for any post that is made on the blog, go to the bottom of the blog post and click on the word “comment”.  You’ll be taken to a page where you can leave your note for Sam, Erin and family.

Erin reads the notes to Sam on a regular basis, so if/when you feel like it, leave them a note of encouragement, a prayer or just tell them you are thinking of them.  Erin will be sure to read it to Sam. 

Meeting with the doctor this week:  Erin will be having a meeting this week with the doctors, social workers and therapist concerning Sam and where he should go for further treatment.  The meeting won’t be to make a decision on where he will be going next;  they will just be exploring the options that are available to them.  Erin said the people at the VA hospital aren’t in any hurry to get Sam out of there and in to a new hospital by a certain date, so there is still lot of time to pray and make the best decision for Sam.

Sam’s medical status: 

Saturday January 19th, 2008:  Today my family spent the day with Erin and Sam.  I could tell right away that Sam’s eye tracking has improved quite a bit.  When we first came in the door, he turned towards us and looked directly at us.  When I said hi to him, he looked directly into my eyes.  This may be crazy, but even though Sam can’t really speak, I almost felt like he was looking inside me.  It felt like a connection that’s deeper that words.  When he looked at me, I felt like the expression on his face was telling me, “I’m here and I want to talk to you so bad!”.  He did show us his “uh-huh” word and said it over and over for us.  Erin said in therapy this week, Sam was trying to say another word, or at least part of one…”fuh, fuh, fuh…”.  I’m sure he was trying to tell Erin he was having “fuhn”….right?

Friday January 18th, 2008:  Sam’s backside wound, which was about 2 centimeters deep as of a few weeks ago, was checked today and it was around 1 centimeter deep.  The VA DSCF0098doctors have been keeping Sam from doing a few therapies lately (like the standing frame) because his wound hasn’t been healing like it should.  Hopefully things are now going in the right direction.  Sam’s right heel wound has also been healing nicely. 

Sam got new glasses on Thursday.  Erin said he likes the way they look at feel.  Erin took Sam for a stroll outside in his wheelchair today.  He liked being outside but it was pretty cold so they weren’t out long.

Wednesday January 16th, 2008:  Sam threw a tennis ball at Donny (his brother).  Erin said it was appropriate because Donny threw the ball at Sam first :-).  All kidding aside, Erin said Sam is doing much better at throwing the ball.  I guess I just needed a little brotherly rivalry to get him going.  Along with Sam’s improved pitching with his right arm, his left arm has been getting much better too.  It was curling up quite a bit but is doing much better.

Thank you Wendy for sharing these bible verses with us:

”Casting all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.”
I Peter 5:7

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5


12 Responses to Hidden Wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan

  1. Angie Bryan says:

    It was so great to get the chance to come out to visit Sam and Erin. I’m glad to see his healing progress and witness what an inspiration Erin can be when she is around him. 🙂

  2. judy says:

    We pray for all of you daily. I continue to admire all of you more and more each day as well. Sam and Erin you are a real inspiration to a “senior”. Tony, your blog is a blessing
    Thank you

  3. Amy Stewart says:

    It’s been a long heart-rendering 6 months since Sam was injured. I am a long time friend of Sam’s Mom and Dad and have known the boys since they were babies. When Kelley called me from Bethesda, all I could do was cry even as I picked up the phone. I have such an affinity to this family. I have faithfully read Tony’s blog since it began, I am grateful for the information he and others provide. I think of how the families have been affected by all that has transpired since. Hello to Marty, Donny and Sam! Hello to Erin and family. Hello to best friend Kelley and close friend Eric. I value you all so much. Erin, your dedication to Sam is an incredible example of love and commitment and what it means to have a true partner.

    With love and admiration for all,

    Amy Stewart

  4. Holly and Victor Markiewicz says:

    Erin and Sam! We love you so much!!!!! You are in our prayers. We are so grateful that we can keep up with your progress the current situation with this blog. It is such a blessing. Keep the faith!!!
    Holly and Victor Markiewicz

  5. Lindsay Morrow says:

    Hi Erin and Sam! I had a great time this weekend-thanks for letting me hang out for so long. Erin you were awesome with Sam and eveyone else even though I made you stay up until 3 a.m. watching movies. Sam looked amazing on Friday-the best I have seen him in the past 5 months. Keep up the good work guys 🙂 It’s definitely paying off. Love you both!!

  6. Bette DeCavelle says:

    It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
    Daniel 4:2 (NIV)

    Erin and Sam..you both will have many stories to tell as you continue on this journey. May God bless you in ways unimaginable……..always remember HE is in control when we are out of control.

  7. Hi Sam & Erin,

    I am so grateful for the updates on Sam. A day will not pass without us saying a prayer for Sam’s continued recovery. Erin and all of your families amazing strength are incredible.
    Every update i get reminds me how great a sacrifice the families, men and women of our armed forces have to endure. Try to remember,

    Before any rainbow we must first have a cloud and a storm.
    I will pray for the clouds to pass.

    Thinking of you both
    Terry & Christine

  8. When I read this, I thought of 1 Corinthians 13, but the last half of it is for Sam, Erin and all of your family…God has not forgotten you. He sees the love that you have for each other, and He will honor that.

    8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the GREATEST of these is charity.
    God Bless you all.
    We have not forgotten Sam, and so many more like him; they are ALL our kids!

  9. Jana Haycock says:

    Sam and Erin:
    I stumbled across this blog a month or so ago, while looking for an old classmate, and since then have checked back often to check Sam’s progress. You are the cutest couple. There’s a sweet spirit about the two of you that is even detectable through cyberspace.

    To Erin: I read in a posting a couple of months ago that you didn’t understand why people were amazed that you’ve taken such good care of Sam. That’s not what is surprising. I agree with you, you’re just doing what a good wife does. You’re caring for the man that you love when he needs you. What’s so impressive is the maturity and faith that you’ve shown while doing so. The fact that you were willing and able to drop everything and devote ALL of your time and energy to helping Sam is truly a blessing. I can promise you that Sam knows what a truly special young woman you are. He may not be able to express his feelings to you the way he once could, but he will find his own way. And believe it or not, eventually you’ll wish he’d just shut up for 2 seconds so you can get a word in. Just kidding (sort of) Erin keep up the good work!!! Remember the Lord never said this life would be easy, he only said it would be worth it.

    To Sam: You are a truly amazing person. Don’t ever lose faith in yourself or the Lord. The Lord would not have brought you this far if he didn’t plan on seeing you through. Thank you so much for what you’ve done for this country. I’m not much older than you, but I have 3 babies. Three innocent kids that don’t have a care in the world. It’s because of you, and thousands of men like you, that they have that luxury. For that I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would love to be able to snap my fingers and make you better, or donate tons of money to help the families of soldiers, but I can’t. All I have to offer is my sincerest prayers and gratitude. So, THANK YOU FOR KEEPING MY FAMILY SAFE!!!!!!!
    Sam, Erin’s so lucky to have you.!!!!!!!

    And to the very well meaning Dr’s that said this was impossible: hahahahahahahahaha SCIENCE ISN’T EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!

    I wish you two the best of luck. With Erin’s love, Sam’s determination, and Gods guidance there is nothing that you can’t accomplish. Look how far you’ve come so far.

  10. Carol Thomas says:

    Dear Sam and Erin;
    I am one of those folks you don’t know, but daily I open your blog and pray for Sam, Erin and your families.
    I would like to share a little verse I read:
    Sometimes in life we do not understand why things happen.
    However God’s character assures us that He never makes mistakes,
    He is never uncaring, and that He never seperates Himself from our need.
    The need you face is great, but the grace that is yours in Christ is even greater.
    May your hearts and you faith stay fixed upon Him as you go through this challenging time. Be assured that He is holding your hand and will not let go!
    Isaiah 41:10 I am your God, I will strengthen Sam and Erin and help them;
    I will uphold Sam and Erin with My righteous right hand.
    Everytime I read this blog I understand that each day little miracles are happening and we will continue to believe and ask for a complete miracle healing!

  11. Carol Calloway says:

    Sam and erin,
    Just wanted to let you know that I pray for you and your extended family on a daily basis and I truly believe that God will answer our prayers for you. I love to read the posting by your dad, Erin. It shows me that my prayers are being answered and the whole world if they are listening too.

    May God continue to bless the efforts of the VA nursing staff and answer all of our prayers for Sam.

    God bless you both.

  12. Don (Doc) Barker says:

    YO! Sam and Erin,

    We miss seeing you both here in Palo Alto, but I know that God has His plans for you and that the move to Kentfield is just one step closer to Sam’s final recovery.

    The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund will continue to support you, so let us stay in touch and keep me informed of any of your financial needs.

    Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. His greatness no one can fathom.
    Psalm 145.

    Semper Fidelis and Semper Gumby,

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