Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wounded Warriors at Dolphin Research Center

Wounded Warriors

                Let’s face it—every day we see Americans angry about money and our financial situation. Seriously—what happened? Congress used to serve—not pop in for a few years of hard-headed arguments and then a life time of payment and insurance. 

                 Every day on Facebook I see a post about what people make in disability or pensions—and our soldiers are on the bottom of the pile. Yes, it’s a voluntary military. But, being your basic incredible coward here, I am fall-on-my-knees grateful to the young men and women who serve our country.

                This year I was privileged to go on a USO tour. To visit our wounded in hospitals. To see that war doesn’t just kill—it maims and destroys our young men and women.

        And, yesterday, I attended the Wounded Warrior program at the Dolphin Research Cente

                You have to be hard as nails to watch this and not wind up with tears in your eyes. 
                The buses arrive; those at DRC line up with flags to welcome the warriors. And everyone claps as our soldiers go by. Some are limping—some are walking just fine but waving back with prosthetic arms. Some are on two prosthetic legs.

                And some are in wheelchairs; not even prosthetics will ever let them walk again.

                They all seem to have wonderful senses of humor—they have learned to live with their injuries. In other words, they’re still fighters. They’re alive—and they’re going to live. 

                We tried to show one soldier a ramp; he teased back, asking us if we were afraid he couldn't go down the step. He assured us he was a true professional wheelchair driver and he did indeed get his wheel chair to hop down the step with no problem. 

                At one of the swim docks, prosthetics were removed and piled on a wheelchair. Two soldiers, each one with one good leg remaining,  held up a friend with no legs from the knees down for an interactive handshake with a dolphin. Of course—employees were in the water to help at any minute. But the soldiers are friends—and good together.

                Somehow, the dolphins know that they’re welcoming our wounded home. They come to the soldiers—move slowly on a pull when they need to, move where and when they should. They are
bright animals, instinctive, and they put on a show like no other.

                When it’s over, the soldiers are still laughing and joking. The prosthetic limbs have all been piled on that wheelchair and it’s time to hand them all back. One teases another when he gets the wrong limb, saying, “Hey. Give a Marine one task and he messes it up!”

                There’s a lot of laughter. There’s pride in every branch of the service—but they’re all part of the American military; they’ve gone down many a road that’s the same. 

                Taking care of our returning military is something that should be of paramount importance. If you see a serviceman or woman, you’d be amazed. Just take two seconds to say thank you to them. Little things can mean so much.