Over the past year and a half, my daughter Erin has spent 8 to 14 hours a day in various military hospitals at the bedside of her husband Sam, a US Marine severely injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb. It has become Erin’s dream to go back to school to become a speech therapist so that she can help Sam and other wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars learn to speak again. She hopes to one day work in a veterans hospital. One of the provisions of the new GI Bill is the option to allow servicemembers to transfer their GI Bill education funding to a spouse or dependent. But—the military has been dragging its feet on getting the regulations in place, so servicemembers are still waiting for that benefit. The Obama Administration can and must get the bureaucracy moving and make this benefit a reality.
In the coming months, President Obama has a unique opportunity to make a series of critical decisions impacting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Sign the open letter urging him to enact these four critical policies in his first 100 days:
· Ensure that veterans don’t have to fight for funding for hospitals and clinics.
· Prioritize veterans in the economic stimulus package.
· Implement GI Bill transferability.
· Aggressively address troops’ mental health injuries.
Sam’s medical status:
Erin reports that Sam is so fun lately. His clever and often unexpected sense of humor shines through and it is just delightful. Monday afternoon when I was there, Erin was still wearing a surgical mask around Sam so their contact wouldn’t result in catching Erin’s cold. Erin was just heading to the restroom, but Sam wanted a parting kiss. Erin feels bad that all she could do was kiss his hand; so I asked if I could kiss him instead; and he looked at me rather funny. He held up his thumb and index finger close together to signal "just a little one"…Ha! Sam has always had a dry sense of humor with the ability to say something so funny; and deliver it with barely a smile or change in expression. It doesn’t seem that foreign to me now to hear or see Sam do something hilarious and not even crack a smile. One evening as Erin was preparing to leave for the evening, she asked Sam if there was anything she could do for him before she left…He said to her, "Why don’t you sleep right here?" motioning to the side of his bed…Erin said it tore at her heart…On Saturday, when I arrived, Sam was sleepy and subdued, but at total peace. He was comfortable and had no aches or pains; and just rested there with his eyes closed. He managed a wave hello when I got there, but quickly went back to a much deserved and needed nap. (See the picture)
[I’ve changed some names in the following section to protect the privacy of the people you will read about…Tony] After praying for my boy a bit, the family of Sam’s roommate arrived to visit. I had met them briefly the Monday before and found out that he was a musician…Mike [name changed] suffered a car accident in November and has a brain injury similar to Sam’s. His Mother, sister, and his brother had come to visit and bring Mike some family love. His Aunt arrived later for additional support. After Sam returned to napping I had the opportunity to sit with [the mother] in the employee breakroom/cafeteria, and over a cup of tea was able to listen to Mike’s story, and recount Sam’s journey thus far. Here is a family full of love for their injured son and brother, with great challenges that beset them. I think they found great comfort in hearing of all the challenges that Sam endured and conquered; and fell in love with Erin for her steadfast faithfulness. I am moved by their compassionate love for their family member; and did not miss an opportunity to be a witness for the healing power of Christ, and the power of Sam’s prayer army. When [Mike’s mother] told me of the negative medical reports, something in me quickened, as I saw this as an opportunity for God to show himself strong for yet another family and group of friends by healing yet another brain injury. So, again I am asking for prayer for another even as I did a while back for Johnny Murphy, another car accident victim and TBI recipient. Will you as a group, hold Mike up to the Lord, covering him and his family with the healing and comforting power of Jesus? What a glorious day it will be when the news of Mike’s healing reverberates through the rock and music industry, and God is the only source of his healing…
When I was leaving on Saturday; the family had just returned from treating Mike to the beautiful outside weather we were having that day. I overheard Mike’s brother talking to him in the hallway. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop and hope this isn’t a violation of a brother’s private and intimate moment, but it touched me. Mike’s brother told him that he refused to accept a medical statement of any disability whatsoever. He reminded him of all the life he still has to experience and live. Regardless of anyone’s revelation in the faith healing process; Faith statements are still faith. It is something that God can work with. I shook Mike’s brother’s hand, commended him for his statement of faith, and asked him to keep it up. All the way home, I thought of Mike and his family. I called a few people to start the prayer chain I had promised for Mike’s family. It wasn’t until after worship time on Sunday that I realized, that Sam had been subdued and quiet so that I had time to focus on this roommate’s family…Isn’t God brilliant and oh so loving????