04 April 2012

Open Letter to CNN from a CCAT Team in Afghanistan

Published on Facebook, February 20, 2012:

Dear Mr. Anderson Cooper and CNN (or other reputable news agency),

Although I am sure that you receive thousands of communication attempts per day, I remain hopeful that this letter will cross your desk, or that of an appropriate staff member. My name is Adam Tibble, and I am currently deployed at Camp Bastion, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. I am a critical care air transport physician for the US Air Force. My team includes a critical care nurse, Captain Frank Brisendine, and a respiratory therapist, Staff Sergeant Robby Wilson. Together we transport our severely injured soldiers within Afghanistan and onto medical facilities in Germany. The work represents a difficult paradox for us. It is incredibly rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time. The injury patterns inflicted by enemy fire and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) are awe-strikingly severe, and serve to stir emotions rarely experienced by medical personnel.

Just the other day, we flew two critically ill patients to another US hospital within Afghanistan. Following the mission, my team sat, exhausted, eating lunch at an American dining facility. CNN played passively on a television in the background, and a large group of US Marines was positioned on our right. Given the condition of their boots and their aggressive chewing, it was obvious that these guys had just returned from the field “outside the wire.” For 50 straight minutes, CNN’s coverage failed to deviate from the day-old Whitney Houston tragedy. I lifted my eyes up from my food as a handful of Marines were clearing their trays. One Marine leaned back to his buddy after gesturing to the TV and said, “Man, no one gives a shit about what we did yesterday.”
At that moment, I craved for the American public to be informed as much about a Marine’s sacrifice as the life of a music legend. In no way is this letter an indictment of CNN, its coverage, or Ms. Houston. In fact, we scour your website, as it is one of the most respected sources of journalism in the world. Rather, this is a challenge to devote a percentage more coverage to the true heroes in this conflict.

For example, our team had the honor of transporting a special forces medic who suffered incredible injury. As pragmatic medical minds, we didn’t necessarily believe in a patient “fighting” for their life. But, this medic changed all of that as he tolerated replacement of his blood volume too many times to count. He made it to Germany to see his family before succumbing to his wounds. He represents a real-life “Saving Private Ryan” story as his brother also lost his life in this nearly forgotten conflict.
Or what about the two US Army PFCs (Private First Class) that we flew on the day of Ms. Houston’s overdose? Each soldier lost two legs and one hand in IED attacks. In total, six limbs were lost in a matter of seconds on February 11, 2012. The American public will never know their names, but will likely know the results of Ms. Houston’s blood toxicity screen. However, we submit that these soldiers are more hero than any rockstar, athlete, or actor that dominates the headlines. We will never know the courage or bravery it takes to join that convoy or be the first to enter that cave, nor will we forget the sacrifice they made for our country. CNN is in the unique position to not let the American public forget, either.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the 1% and the 99% of America. Less than 1% of the population belongs to this all-volunteer military that has been tested by two wars for over 10 years. The political and foreign policy implications of these conflicts make them hard to understand, and even more impossible to hold the general American public interest. And to be honest, it is sometimes difficult for us to understand as service members. However, these kids still join that convoy and enter that cave, only because of their incredible bravery, commitment, and because America asked them to.
Therefore, in turn, we plead with one of the most respected news agencies in the world to return the favor--to recognize the elite of our 1%, perhaps with a hero highlighted per week, or per day. There are thousands of stories out here. We would be happy to help you find these heroes and stories. Please ask. Then, maybe, CNN can tell that Marine in the dining hall that we all, in fact, do give a shit about what they did yesterday.
Adam Tibble, Captain, USAF, MD
Critical Care Air Transport Physician
Cardiac Anesthesiologist
Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA

Frank Brisendine, Captain, USAF, RN
Critical Care Air Transport RN
Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA

Robert Wilson, Staff Sergeant, USAF, RRT
Critical Care Air Transport RT
Travis AFB, Fairfield, CA


howard love said...

How true!Thank you MaryAnn for posting this.Howard Love

Charm said...

I care!!! I am an ER nurse and have been for a very long time. I cannot say that my 'war zone' is any where near what these devoted men and women are exposed too on a voluntary, daily basis. But I can say that each and every day I pray to God to keep each of them safe; give them the strength and protection they need to endure the battle they have chosen to fight, and I thank them for all they do and provide for me and mine! It's sad that they do not get the recognition they deserve and it's even sadder to know they feel this way. We are so guilty of taking them for granted and not saying each and every day, "Thank you! You do make a difference and you are appreciated and thought of each day!"

marchamil2on said...

Thank You Captain Tibble for this remarkable story of our real heroes - the ones who put themselves in harm's way in order to protect our freedom.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the men and women who so gallantly serve this great nation of ours. I hope that CNN will wake up and realize that we owe daily gratitude to all of you.

With deepest respect,

Marc Hamilton
St. Louis, MO

Anonymous said...

I care as well. I am a mom of a US soldier. He has been deployed four times in ten years. His wife misses him terribly and his kids have gone from four and seven years old to fifteen and seventeen in that time. He and his family have missed so much. I am thankful that he has not suffered a physical wound, but mental scars and emotional wounds are suffered by all our soldiers to some degree.
I have two friends who have lost sons to these wars. I will be eternally grateful to these military men and women who sacrifice so much for our nation.
A mom who loves her son

Anonymous said...

dam, We are so proud of you for speaking up and at least showing you want evceryone to care more. Please know your family is behind all of you. Our servicemen will never know how proud we are of all of you. Thankyou all for what you are doing. You are appreciated by many. Gram A.



Anonymous said...

CNN please take this into consideration. I'd rather hear about our REAL HEROES than hear about what's going on with celebs. Those men and women are risking their lives for us to be able to live ours and all the news can report is how some crack head (oh my bad, it was only coke) died in a bath tub.

Valerie said...

MaryAnn: Wasn't sure where to put this, but this seems as good a place as any. This was written by a guy who blogs from Afghanistan. Some pretty powerful words about you and yours over there my friend!!

"TISSUE ALERT!!! This is a quote from a Blogger, Afghan Blue, taken from an article about the 3 Ohio Soldiers who died last week. It needs to be shared with all Angels:

"I would also like to laud Soldiers’ Angels for the loving care and respect they give our wounded as soon as they arrive in Germany. They provide an informal connection, reaching back to us and forward to the families with non-m...edical communication. They never violate ethics. They will actually hold the hands of our wounded while the medical staff is working hard to save lives. Soldiers’ Angels care for the heart, freeing the busy doctors and nurses to care for the body in the sure knowledge that no soldier will go unloved. And nobody does it better. They are wonderful, awesome people who do things as volunteers that I could not keep my sanity through. They spend time with people who are having the worst, scariest days of their lives and bring a smile, a blanket, news from home, a message from their brothers, or a warm hand to hold."

Here is a link to the entire blog story: (I will warn you -- some of it is very hard to read, but read it you must because this is the truth about what happened, not what the main stream media said happened)

http://afghanblue.com/2012/04/07/the-red-in-the-center-of-the-patch/See More

God Bless you all!

Sue said...

I want each and every one of our troops to know that not a solitary day goes by that I don't think of their sacrifices for my freedom and safety! I respect and honor the work you do and pray for your safe return home. I also pray for an end to war any where on this earth! I am reminded of the danger you are in as I anxiously await the next assignment for my young grandson who is presently in Ranger school. I fear for his future but know this is his life-calling and career choice and respect that decision. I am amazed at the dedication and strength each of you possess as you face the potential for injury or even death. Your bravery and service to our country make each of you a hero to me! God bless each and everyone of you whether you read this message or not! I am forever indebted to each of you. Simple words but sent from my heart: "THANK YOU!"

Anonymous said...

Seriously CNN, who gives a shitt about celebrities. Start reporting some real news, news that's important to regular people. Stop telling u's about the "dumbshit celebrity move of the day"