Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Message From Afghanistan

(all the names bellow are pseudonyms, but the letter is real and from a dear friend... it has been edited per her request for anonymity's sake)


I hope all is well with you and your family this Christmas season-may you have a wonderful Christmas. I’m sending this Christmas greeting early, but I wanted to let you know that I’m scheduled to leave Afghanistan shortly. I can’t wait to return and see you all. Things have been relatively good here. The weather is rather cold and we received snow a few days ago. The cold has slowed activities a bit. I’ve attached an important photo so you can see a bit about what we do outside combat care and to update you on my activities of late.

The picture is of a gentleman in a wheel-barrow. Why is he in a wheel-barrow you ask? His legs were congenitally malformed and useless. We provided him a wheelchair and he was so happy that he pushed himself up and down the street the rest of the day. Anytime I think I’m having a bad day, I just look at that pic and it helps put things in perspective.

I was watching TV today after sick-call and I was really disappointed with who the majority of the American people think are heroes. So I want to take a moment and introduce you to two people I’ve had the honor of knowing here; two people that few know how much they have done and even fewer outside this place will know what heroes they truly are. Doctors Z and Y are US military surgeons deployed with me. They two of the nicest and most humble people one could ever meet.

Our hospital cares for all people who are wounded: local nationals, all US personnel, all coalition forces, and enemy combatants. Most trauma is stabilized by Forward Surgical Teams, but a significant portion is not. To say that Doctors Z and Y were busy during their rotation would be a gross understatement. During the late summer, not only did the live in their office (which is not very big, nor is the hospital) for a month, but they also did not leave the hospital for a month. Through it all they had great attitudes and where always approachable when I had a question. Further, when one of our soldiers stepped on an enemy explosive device, they spent over 5 hours in the operating room trying to save his lower leg and they did it after being up all night busy with other trauma. The soldier eventually required a below the knee amputation, but it was not due to a lack of effort on their part.

One day I was walking through the hospital when I spotted a small crowd in the hallway. I thought someone had fallen or something. Dr. Z was toward the rear and I stopped to ask him a question about a patient. As soon as I asked my question, I realized he was trying to talk to someone in the center of the group, which I found out was Howie Long. He was at the base for the Fox NFL show with Terry Bradshaw. It was a show they did here for Veterans Day. Later, Dr. Smith Z said to Dr. Y that he couldn’t believe I was trying to ask him a question when he was talking to Howie Long about Texas football. He asked why I didn’t stick around to talk to Howie Long or Terry Bradshaw. I told him I would rather talk to him anytime over those guys…..I think he thought I was joking.

I know this was a long email, but I hope the next one I send is telling you I’ve arrived in the US. May you all have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

A United States Soldier, Medical Provider, Hero, and Good Friend

(God bless you amigo)


  1. To all the soldiers fighting for our freedom:

    Merry Christmas and thank you for your service.

  2. That was great! Mind if I share it?

  3. Thank you for keeping it real 911.

  4. Nice post...It is always great to have reminders about what's really important in our lives and not get caught up in the rest of the minutia.

    Hope your holidays are going well.