(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)