Cartoonists at Brooke Army Medical Center (L to R): Mike Seward, Bruce Higdon, Bill Hinds, Steve Moore, Shari Jenson (USO), Rob Harrell, Michael Ramirez, Tom Stiglich, Jane Carpenter (USO), Milburn Taylor, Jeff Bacon, Rob Smith, jr.
We just returned from a visit to Brooke Army Medical Center where we were privileged to meet with the brave warriors being treated there and the superb staff that provides support along the way. No one can enter the doors of that facility without feeling humbled by the dignity of its inhabitants.
We got a chance to visit two of its major components: the Center for the Intrepid, and the burn unit. The Center for the Intrepid is a new facility that has been open only two years. Inside are state-of-the-art physical therapy areas where troops who have suffered severe injuries undergo rehabilitation under the watchful eyes of medical personnel. What we saw looked more like a gym than a medical facility – most of the troops were in PT gear and were working on building up their muscles. I think the best word to describe the scene would be “determination.” Each young man concentrated on the task at hand – hitting the weights, working on flexibility, or targeting a specific part of his body that needed strengthening. There were jokes flying around – the same jokes you would expect in a base gym. Their motivation was simple – get better, and get on with life. Some wanted nothing more than to return to uniform and get back in the fight.
Later we met with troops being treated in the burn unit. Brooke Army Medical Center is arguably the finest burn facility in the world, and the staff is superb. Everyone we saw had at least one – and often two or three – medical professionals helping them recover. What struck me was the demeanor of the patients. Even though we knew they were in pain, you would never know it by talking to them. They carried on conversations as if we were sitting on the front porch sharing a couple of sodas.
We can never repay these men and women for their sacrifices, but we should try. They are some of the bravest people I have ever met. I could go on about the character they displayed, or the way they stoicly faced their own personal challenges, but I won’t because I doubt they would want me to.
I think they would just want me to treat them like I would treat anyone else. Because they are like anyone else.