Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Soon to be Gone

I think today's post is such a lovely tribute to our veterans. I can say that because I didn't write it. :-)

Men and women from WWII are dying at a rapid rate. Korean and Vietnam vets are passing too. Those brave men and women who fought or assisted our troops, such as medical personnel, are seldom recognized as heroes, but they are. Without their sacrifices, we would not be the nation we have been. Yet, many of them are like my father was, silent on the subject of personal war experiences. There are many great stories that are lost daily. They need to be recorded before they are lost forever. Have you taken the time to sit down with a relative, neighbor or someone in a nursing home to listen to the personal experiences of that individual? Or to tell your own story for posterity? It's a great gift for your family.

This story is appropriately called "Soon to be Gone." It is written by by CPT. Stephen R. Ellison, M.D.

"I am a doctor specializing in the Emergency Departments of the only two military Level One-Trauma Centers, both in San Antonio, TX and they care for civilian Emergencies as well as military personnel. San Antonio has the largest military retiree population in the world living here. As a military doctor, I work long hours and the pay is less than glamorous. One tends to become jaded by the long hours, lack of sleep, food, family contact and the endless parade of human suffering passing before you. The arrival of another ambulance does not mean more pay, only more work. Most often, it is a victim from a motor vehicle crash.

"Often it is a person of dubious character who has been shot or stabbed. With our large military retiree population, it is often a nursing home patient. Even with my enlisted service and minimal combat experience in Panama, I have caught myself groaning when the ambulance brought in yet another sick, elderly person from one of the local retirement centers that cater to military retirees. I had not stopped to think of what citizens of this age group represented.

"I saw 'Saving Private Ryan.' I was touched deeply. Not so much by the carnage, but by the sacrifices of so many. I was touched most by the scene of the elderly survivor at the graveside, asking his wife if he'd been a good man. I realized that I had seen these same men and women coming through my Emergency Dept. and had not realized what magnificent sacrifices they had made. The things they did for me and everyone else that has lived on this planet since the end of that conflict are priceless.

"Situation permitting, I now try to ask my patients about their experiences. They would never bring up the subject without the inquiry. I have been privileged to an amazing array of experiences, recounted in the brief minutes allowed in an Emergency Dept. encounter. These experiences have revealed the incredible individuals I have had the honor of serving in a medical capacity, many on their last admission to the hospital."

To read the rest of the story and view the photos, click here. It's a good story.

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