Monday, April 27, 2015

A Passing Generation Unnoticed!

We deserve to remember, they deserve to be remembered!

By Capt.  Steven Ellison, MD

This should be required reading in every  school and college in our country. This Captain,  an Army doctor, deserves a medal himself for  putting this together. If you choose not to pass  it on, fine, but I think you will want to, after  you read it. 

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.

There  was a frail, elderly woman who reassured my  young enlisted medic, trying to start an IV line  in her arm. She remained calm and poised,  despite her illness and the multiple  needle-sticks into her fragile veins. She was  what we call a 'hard stick.' As the medic made  another attempt, I noticed a number tattooed  across her forearm. I touched it with one finger  and looked into her eyes. She simply said, '  Auschwitz ..' Many of later generations would  have loudly and openly berated the young medic  in his many attempts. How different was the  response from this person who'd seen unspeakable  suffering.

Also,  there was this long retired Colonel, who as a  young officer had parachuted from his burning  plane over a Pacific Island held by the  Japanese. Now an octogenarian, he had a minor  cut on his head from a fall at his home where he  lived alone. His CT scan and suturing had been  delayed until after midnight by the usual parade  of high priority ambulance patients. Still spry  for his age, he asked to use the phone to call a  taxi, to take him home, then he realized his  ambulance had brought him without his wallet. He  asked if he could use the phone to make a long  distance call to his daughter who lived 7 miles  away. With great pride we told him that he could  not, as he'd done enough for his country and the  least we could do was get him a taxi home, even  if we had to pay for it ourselves. My only  regret was that my shift wouldn't end for  several hours, and I couldn't drive him  myself.

I was  there the night M/Sgt Roy Benavidez came through  the Emergency Dept. for the last time. He was  very sick. I was not the doctor taking care of  him, but I walked to his bedside and took his  hand. I said nothing. He was so sick, he didn't  know I was there. I'd read his Congressional  Medal of Honor citation and wanted to shake his  hand. He died a few days  later.

The  gentleman who served with Merrill's Marauders,  

the  survivor of the Bataan Death  March,

the  survivor of Omaha Beach ,  

the 101  year old World War I veteran.  

The former  POW held in frozen North Korea

The former  Special Forces medic - now with non-operable  liver cancer

the former  Viet Nam Corps Commander..  

I may  still groan when yet another ambulance comes in,  but now I am much more aware of what an honor it  is to serve these particular men and women.

I have  seen a Congress who would turn their back on  these individuals who've sacrificed so much to  protect our liberty. I see later generations  that seem to be totally engrossed in abusing  these same liberties, won with such sacrifice  

It has  become my personal endeavor to make the nurses  and young enlisted medics aware of these amazing  individuals when I encounter them in our  Emergency Dept. Their response to these  particular citizens has made me think that  perhaps all is not lost in the next generation.  

My  experiences have solidified my belief that we  are losing an incredible generation, and this  nation knows not what it is losing. We should  all remember that we must 'Earn this.'  

Written By  CAPT. Stephen R. Ellison, M.D. US Army
My own  personal note:
If it were not for these faithful, loyal, strong persons, there would not  be a United States of America .

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