Thursday, September 30, 2010

BAGRAM Airfield (BAF)

After spending 9 hours at the airport for a flight that only takes 20 minutes, myself and my CLT finally boarded a plane to head to Bagram. We have spent the first couple days trying to get all their accounts up and running, and the Team checked in here at the hospital, before they were finally up and running and able to start business - today.

Once a week, here at the hospital, they do a Purple Heart Ceremony for all the Battle Wounded that are getting ready to be flown out of theater. My NCOIC here will be responsible for walking with the General to see all the recipients, so I decided to shadow this ceremony.

Prior to the General Arriving, we do the rounds and ensure the SM are ready to see the General. As we did the rounds last night, in preps, we happened upon a new patient – he was seriously about 1 hour into being admitted after an IED explosion he became victim to. This SM was, I'm sure, in a pain killer induced sleep, and it was obvious. This poor guy was swollen – what looked like -most of his upper body. He still had shrapnel tears on his arms, face and other places I am sure I didn't see. There was still dried up blood, and even fresh blood on the pillow he lie with, from the wounds that were covering his face and neck. Seeing this, hurt my heart. It was devastating to see the reality of the reports I process daily.

See, I (and my cell) are lucky. We simply process the reports. We can only visualize from the description. But my CLT in Kandahar hospital, and now here in Bagram Hospital, will see it daily.

And its not just the wounded service members. Yes, we even attend to the wounded enemy combatants (ironically, we heal the enemy we shoot – just so they can go back out there and try once again..)
we also tend to the civilian sector who are hurt as a result of enemy fire/IED, etc.

Anyways, we completed our rounds, there were 3 SM getting their Purple Hearts last night. As the General made his rounds, he greeted the wounded Soldiers, spoke with them for a few minutes, and then the order of the Purple Heart was read – and the SM was pinned with that and the Combat Action Medal. I have never witness a Purple Heart ceremony (no matter how small/quaint, it was) and it was truly a raw, emotional sight.

Looking in the Soldiers eyes, watching his face – so proud – so courageous, as the General pinned the medal to his uniform, was inspiring. I was proud for each of them! One of the Soldiers had been there for a few weeks, and the Sergeant Major found out and was having a brand new, fresh uniform delivered within the half hour – for him to fly home in.

Last night was a moving experience for me. I was in awwe at the Soldiers, their bravery, their sacrifice. It was also a humbling experience, in that, I know – I am lucky. Although I am here, in the war zone, I am blessed that I am not in the same dangers that these Soldiers face daily.. the front lines..

This also put a face to the injuries and casualty reports we process daily. I have to say, I truly am thankful this is not something I have to see on a daily basis.

I wanted to cry last night... I felt so bad for them, so proud for them.
I didn't. Instead, I came home, called my mom.

I didn't spend much time at the hospital yesterday – as I normally spend at work – but I was drained. I was mentally exhausted last night.

Today – I escape the reality of war – by watching movies all evening -
I'm okay.. maybe a bit more sullen today than the norm.. but I'm okay.

It is much louder here, than what I am used to.

My first night here, every loud bang, every loud noise startled me. I hear noises that sound like sirens, and wonder – should I be in a bunker? Is that the siren? Before I realize its the humming of a plane of jet engine..

My first day here – I witnessed an explosion – not sure from what – but I watched it happen.. heard the bang.. saw the black smoke go up, that followed...
I stood in anticipation of an alarm – a siren – something but it never followed..
Still don't know what it was..

So needless to say, I am a little more on edge here, than I normally am. The noises are unsettling, the loud planes over head, the constant stream of jets – which sometimes – sound much like an incoming rockets..

My room here is outstanding! I can not complain. I am sitting here, on a couch, feet up on a coffee table, watching a movie on the big screen TV, all while browsing the Internet on the PC that is in here.. There is plenty of room to include a few beds and a refrigerator ta'boot.. Here, I feel like I am living it up.. and for the majority of the days – I have privacy.. more physical privacy more so than audio, though. There is only one piece of wood that separates the female side from the male side – therefore, you can hear everything – but in all – there is NOTHING to complain about! :) Any bit of privacy and luxury – is grand and treasured over here! :)

I will be glad to go home..
obviously much more so to go home to the states – but my temporary home now – is far better than any other location I have seen yet, since my circulation started..

Anyways, today is a day to be happy.. excited and thrilled for my baby!
Today – is his birthday – all my feelings aside – he will feel celebrated today!

Til next time...

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