There’s an interesting report published by the RAND Survey Research Group about the U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. About 1.5 million U.S. forces have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. The report estimates that about 300,000 of our troops suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression and 320,000 troops suffer from some level of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
The report really surprised me. I’ve mentioned before that TBI and PTSD are the “signature wounds” of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but I really didn’t realize that TBI was more prevalent. What really scares me is the fact that our U.S. troops are returning to both Iraq and Afghanistan for multiple deployments. Can you imagine spending 15 months in Iraq, surviving the ordeal unscathed and returning home—only to be sent back for a second, third or even fourth deployment!
Something has to give. Unfortunately right now, the only thing that is giving is the 1 percent of our population (our military) who are being sent back to Afghanistan and Iraq over and over again. Terri Tanielian, who is a RAND researcher said this about the report, “There is a major health crisis facing those men and women who have served our nation in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
Sam’s medical status:
From Sam’s dad after a visit last week:
As I sat outside today with Sam and Erin in the beautiful sunshine and cool breeze, I marveled at God’s handiwork and must have been staring at Sam so although we were only a few feet apart he gave me a little wave…as if to say, Yeah Dad, I’m here…It snapped me back to reality and made me laugh at the same time…I noticed so many things today that seem so insignificant in and of themselves; unless you know where Sam has been and is going. The sun was direct today so Erin had given him some sun blocker lotion to which he applied himself on his arms…Erin brought along his sunglasses and when he was in the shade, lifted them up above his eyes to rest on his forehead without aid…When he coughs or clears his throat, you can hear his voice so Erin is quick to take advantage of the moment and always prompts him to use that voice, (guttural though it may be) and wrap it around some chosen words…I distinctly heard him say Dad and Mom, Erin, Marty, and Donny; along with a host of words that he had used regularly in the past…He repeated a phrase from one of his favorite shows; (Kids in the Hall) and made a gesture to himself with his thumb and said, “Look at me; I am an Elephant rider.” I cracked up and thought he was referring to the pictures of him actually riding an elephant in Thailand…Ha! When Erin was preparing to shave him on Wednesday night, she asked him if he was looking forward to the shave to which he made this gesture…He stroked his beard and waved bye-bye…
I never thought these little things would bring so much joy and thought back to when he was a little baby and making these advances as he developed…It isn’t a development this time, but a restoration and God is the artist…I have a friend that says, “Now God is just showing off!” As Sam makes these daily advances, I try to keep them in perspective and not become too impatient, but it is difficult…I, among many, constantly yearn for his total restoration, but recognize God’s timing is best and things acquired slowly are usually permanent. So we wait and rejoice in the baby steps, and meet all obstacles with prayers of thanksgiving and praise…
The picture below is Sam throwing me a salute…very snappy too…he also showed Erin and I today salutes that he performed in Jr ROTC in high school, and in boot camp with a rifle…nothing wrong with his memory there…
I’ll keep you informed…Much love,
From Erin’s mother after our visit on Saturday:
I was holding Sam’s hand when I decided to kiss it. Sam immediately pulled my hand to his mouth and kissed it. I held back tears, but barely. I then went to hug him good-bye, and I kissed him on the cheek. Sam pulled my face to his and kissed my cheek too. Erin told Sam to mess up my hair, and he reached his hand over my head and messed my hair all up. That really took a lot of coordination! When we got in the car to leave and on our way out, I began to cry. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Tears came flooding out. I was overcome with hope. This trip to see Sam and Erin was really special.