The U.S. Labor Department just recently launched a web site called America’s Heroes at Work to help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The web site is a collaborative effort with the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. These three government agencies are working together in this effort to help veterans with TBI or PTSD transition back into the civilian workforce and local communities.
America’s Heroes at Work provides various resources, including fact sheets, reference guides and training tools to help employers integrate veterans with TBI and PTSD into the workplace. To read more about this new service click here.
Sam’s medical status:
Courage, Honor, and Commitment are the buzz words belonging to the credo of The United States Marines. They are not idly adhered to; but taken very seriously as a way of life, standards by which they comport themselves, and to be a shining example to the nation. The Marines that practice and live by these words command our respect, our admiration, and even our love. And why not? These words are, and when implemented in the correct fashion, represent gifts from God to men. Scriptures are full of stories of courageous and honorable men and women. I don’t believe any thinking person would disagree that Sam and Erin display an incredible amount of courage and do it very honorably. Today I’d like to give you some observations about commitment that I’ve witnessed over the past year, few months, and just this last Saturday…
I recently watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and especially “The Return of the King”. As you may remember, Frodo showed an amazing amount of courage and undaunting and incorruptible character in his quest to save the world from the impending evil. BUT, I’m afraid Frodo would have never made it without the love and commitment of his good friend Sam; (Yeah, the name cinched it for me) even evidenced by Sam carrying Frodo up the mountain in his last stretch of the quest. What powerful dedication to his friend and neighbor. What love exhibited on his many months long journey to his companion…Well, I submit to you a real life Lord of the Rings story and that is Sam and Erin.
Sam’s injuries were and are severe. So severe in fact that other people in similar circumstances gave up hope and retreated from the battles that lay ahead. Sam does fight the battles daily. It is an uphill climb, no an up-mountain climb everyday of his recovery. His current challenge is a series of focal seizures that plague and interfere with his rehab time, thereby slowing his progress. The doctors don’t seem overly concerned by this, although any seizure of the brain is serious and must be researched to it’s fullest extent. This finds Sam in the neurology department at the University of San Francisco Medical Center. An excellent hospital with a great reputation for it’s specialty departments. He is monitored with a 24 hour EEG, and is under constant observation by video. The picture is of Sam with several electrodes literally glued to his head and face. Erin said the epoxy that they use burns a little when applied. He is also under the standard protocol of oxygen while he is there. Erin was reading him some of the questions on the hospital admission forms and one of them went like this. “Have you been hurt physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially by anyone in the past 6 months? Sam replied, Yeah! When Erin asked by whom, he replied, “By that guy!”, referring to the tech that was applying the electrodes. Ha! This is how Sam faces his challenges. With courage, dignity, and a little humor thrown in for good measure. I believe strongly that God has him in San Francisco for a great reason and it can only be a good one. Nothing can separate Sam from God’s love so this hurdle will be like all the others.
Even though Sam confronts all tasks with all the boldness of being a Marine; now he must rely on another (just as Frodo did) and that’s Erin. She is the one who pushes him to excel in his physical therapy, encourages him and reminds him when his memory fails him, and even carries him when he just can’t make the last few steps to a goal. Erin was trying to get Sam to exclaim some faith and asked him who was healing him…He said “You are”…and although she was trying to get Sam to give God the credit, she just didn’t realize how accurate he was. There is no doubt in my mind that Erin’s steadfastness to Sam is a direct pipeline, and tapped into the Lord most High. I’m not even sure a person is capable of that kind of commitment without the strength and power coming for God himself. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. My boys have already pointed out my similarity to Gandolph, The Gray in those movies. For those of you that know me, I’ve been gray for many years. Ha!
Donny visited last week right before Sam went to SF…he had been drinking a Dr Pepper in a plastic bottle and had a little bit left when he got there. He gave Sam the bottle to play with and Sam wanted to drink the remainder of the soda. Donny removed the cap and Sam downed the last few drops. He wanted it all and squeezed the plastic of the bottle to move those last few drops around and get them. The RN on duty was very excited and calculated at least 7 different cognitive moves. She hadn’t seen him in a while and ran to record her observation.
Erin’s commitment to Sam is and will be legendary; and Sam’s commitment to her is also apparent. Erin asked him recently why he works so hard in physical therapy, even when he didn’t feel well? His answer is priceless…”Because I love you so much”!
“I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind, and I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart.”
Sam Gamgee – The Return of the King (Lord of the Rings)