From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Call From a Soldier

I have a dear friend, I have been humbled and honored to hear the story of his service in the United States Army.  Courage, sacrifice,  and patriotism is defined in what this man and his family have given.  Several weeks ago he had to go for medical testing to verify a neck injury sustained when the vehicle he was riding in hit an IED and rolled.  The wait for those types of exams is always long.  My friend told me of a young Soldier who sat waiting beside him.  He reported that the young man was in obvious distress, his NCO called his cell phone demanding that he get back to the unit.  Those manning the desk in the waiting area made disparaging remarks suggesting the two men were trying to put something over on the Army, and get something they didn't deserve...  

My friend participated in 455 combat missions during two tours in Iraq.  Vehicles he was riding in were hit seven times by IEDs.  The Army has completely lost the record of his second deployment.  All that remains is the pictures he made to prove he ever served that second tour.  He bears the burden of proving his PTSD and TBI from the roll over and sustained mortar and rocket attacks.

How can this be?  He was required to contact those Soldiers who had been riding with him in the vehicle that day when it rolled.  He had to ask them to make "sworn statements" of the IED and roll over.  They of course, were under no obligation to oblige him.  He found that three of them were dead, having later sustained fatal casualties.  One Soldier with whom he had been very close, hung up on him when he called the first time, stating, "I don't want to talk about that."  He suffers from PTSD, and lost his family due to his military service, and his ex-wife used his PTSD diagnosis to deny him visitation rights to his daughters.  Of course he still must provide child support. 

My friend suffers from PTSD, the Army diagnosed him as having this condition, yet they sent him on this mission to provide proof of his service, since somehow they have failed to maintain his record...  I can't think about this too much... I too experience dismay...

He called me today, having received his rating for the PTSD disorder, his frustration was clear.  They advised that if he wished to submit more information, they would reconsider.  He had just fulfilled the list they supplied of what documentation they required.  He made the statement, "I need help."  I spent some time in prayer for him and the needs of his family.  Later I went to my email and found a message from a friend that mentioned that she had a friend who advocated through the VA for Soldiers.  We as a nation may not know how to treat our patriots, but the Living God does.  As I constantly observe, God loves and cares for Soldiers in a special way.  I sent the Soldier my friend's email to encourage him, and sent her a reply asking for the contact information.  I will pass it on to him after I contact the advocate first to tell her what an outstanding Soldier will be contacting her for help with the VA.

The Soldier had told me that as he had waited that day for the medical testing and sat next to the young Soldier he had reached out to him as the two Soldiers manning the desk derided both of them and encouraged him.  When he did so, a single tear had slid down the young man's  cheek.  I don't know the young Soldier's name, but tonight where ever he is, I wish him to know I am thankful for his service, and he has my deep admiration.

To the two Soldiers who were manning the desk that day, you aren't worthy of the uniform... and you don't have the standing in this world to tie the boots of the men you ridiculed that day, and I yearn to have the opportunity to express my contempt for you face to face...   There is only one excuse for your behavior, lack of leadership, for you would have never gone there if you were serving under my husband.  You would have known better, and been sure of the consequences should your behavior be reported.  Ft. Polk, Louisiana is in need of leadership.  I contacted them to report this incident when I heard of it, never heard a word.  Apparently, command at that installation allows such behavior.

To every frustrated Veteran, especially those from the Viet Nam era who are dying daily from the Agent Orange exposure, thank you for your service. 

A Call From A Soldier

I received a call from a Soldier today.
He was struggling and found himself again in dismay.

A sadness swept over me, so many times for these I have made defense,
Sometimes the way we treat our Soldiers just doesn’t make sense.

We ask so much, take so much, then profess great care.
But when it comes down to it, the burden, they have to bear.

We make them wade through paperwork and bureaucracy without end.
We appoint them an advocate, but really for themselves they must fend.

“Jump through this hoop, sign here, and go to that corner and stand.”
So many requirements and so many demands.

Everyone knows that to these valiant warriors we all owe,
How is it then that in the end we become the foe?

When they reach the brink of what they can shoulder,
They tend to give up, walk away, as their resentments begin to smolder.

I wonder often if the system is not of such a design,
As to so discourage a Soldier that they give up in time.

When an enemy stands sinister and dark at the door,
The whole world looks to these men and women and implores.

Leadership with lofty words sends them out,
Their mission, the enemies of freedom to rout.

Of all the debts that the people of a nation share,
Is there one like we owe to these men and women that can compare?

I received a call from a man who used to be a Soldier today,
He was struggling and again found himself in dismay.

Dedicated to Jared Campbell and all those who have so nobly served with him, may this nation always remember and respect what they have given.  March 2011.