Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On My Mind: Soldiers' Stories

"Our patient load is 11, 7 and 2 and a duty passenger. That means 11 litter patients, 7 walking wounded and 2 attendants. Some can take care of themselves, some need lots of help. All have been waiting for us for a long time and need pain medicine and antibiotics. The patients include: gun shot wound to the stomach, partial amputations from a land mine, open fractures secondary to gun shot wound, head injury-struck by a tank, blast injuries, shrapnel injuries, and dislocations. The patients are mainly from the Marines and 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles. Many were involved in ambushes."

This is the first paragraph from "Medevac Missions," by U.S. Air Force Reserve Captain Ed Hrivnak. It is one of the incredible essays written by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and gathered by the National Endowment for the Arts. You may have already read some of these incredibly moving stories in Operation Homecoming, the collection of essays, poems, and writings on soldiers' experiences previewed in the The New Yorker last summer and then published in book form last fall (Click here for an audio excerpt). Now some of these stories are being featured on "America at the Crossroads," the new series on PBS/Frontline which premiered Monday night. I watched the first two series tonight and cried. This war continues unabated. Its effects--physical, psychological, and political--will be with us long after it ends.

This is a must see, make the time to watch the entire series.

"On My Mind" is a column designed to encourage discussion within the medical community about politics and health issues. The writer of this column is a professor of American history and has an unhealthy obsession for politics.

All comments welcomed. Post by clicking on "comments" below.

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