30 November 2010

The strategy of modern aeromedical evacuations

If you haven't seen it yet, this is another in a series of excellent articles about aeromedical evacuations from the Washington Post. This one covers the strategy behind (and the logistics involved in) moving even the most critically Wounded Warriors from theater as quickly as possible.

In the civilian world, victims of car accidents and gunshots hope to get to a hospital that can save their life - and then stay there. The military strategy is pretty much the opposite - and is, paradoxically, part of the reason the care of soldiers wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been so successful.

In both those theaters, the military has placed a few extremely sophisticated hospitals very close to the battlefield. Within a few hours of being wounded, casualties can reach neurosurgeons, maxillofacial surgeons, interventional radiologists, ophthalmologists and intensivists - specialists that previously were farther "up-range" and days away.

Advanced care so close to the fight is feasible only if casualties don't fill up the hospitals and prevent new ones from coming in. To keep that from happening, patients are moved within hours of being treated.

This report also follows the fate of one critically injured Warrior who didn't make it all the way home. Make sure to view the accompanying photo gallery.

25 November 2010

On Thanksgiving, Angels Thankful for Bloggers

On Thanksgiving, Angels Thankful for Bloggers

Online Fundraiser Means Technology for Wounded Troops

PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 24, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Thanksgiving Day, military support nonprofit Soldiers' Angels gives thanks for a coalition of bloggers who raised nearly $100,000 for severely wounded veterans in November. The funds support the organization's Project Valour-IT, which supplies voice-controlled laptops and other adaptive technology to aid the recovery and independence of wounded servicemembers.

Since its inception in 2005, the Valour-IT online fundraiser has become an annual event. The project began when active-duty military blogger (milblogger) Chuck Ziegenfuss was wounded but wanted to continue to blog despite severe hand injuries. Following recognition that the technology existed to do so and that many Americans wanted to help others in Chuck's situation, Project Valour-IT was born under the auspices of Soldiers' Angels.

Using the Internet to raise funds for the new project was a natural fit. Chuck's fellow milbloggers teamed up along military service branch lines for an online fundraising competition leading up to Veterans Day, relying on friendly rivalries between the branches to motivate their efforts. Bloggers of all types soon joined them, including prominent pundits and broadcasters. Over the last five years the annual fundraisers have resulted in nearly one million dollars for Valour-IT.

"The charitable landscape of the Internet is amazing," says Soldiers' Angels Executive Director Toby Nunn. "10 years ago we didn't have the technology to raise money through ventures like this, let alone have the technology that we're raising the money for. These adaptive technologies and the heroes that benefit from them continue to inspire those that blog and surf the Information Superhighway, making this fundraiser relevant, fitting and rewarding."

Nunn has high praise for the bloggers themselves. "This small, dedicated group of milbloggers who get the message out—driven by their steadfast belief in helping those like them and the profound Internet fellowship that binds them—achieve amazing feats. This recurring fundraiser is a prime example."

Over the years, Project Valour-IT has provided nearly 6,000 laptops for wounded troops, as well as GPS devices for those with memory loss due to injury, and Wii game systems that are used in physical therapy sessions.

Soldiers' Angels is an award-winning 501(c)(3) with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information, visit www.soldiersangels.org or call 615-676-0239.

SOURCE Soldiers' Angels

20 November 2010

Soldiers' Angels & BAE Help Military Families Send Care Packages

Soldiers' Angels & BAE Help Military Families Send Care Packages

Documentarian Chronicles Both Sides of Deployment Experience

FT. CAMPBELL, Ky., Nov. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --For the second year in a row, Operation Patriot Care Package, spearheaded by documentarian Michael Slee, is connecting deployed soldiers and their families while chronicling deployment from both sides of military life -- the homefront and the frontlines. This time, Soldiers' Angels and defense contractor BAE Systems have joined the team to show military families and their soldiers how much support they have from their fellow Americans.

On Monday, volunteers and staff from Soldiers' Angels and BAE joined families of deployed soldiers from Ft. Campbell to stuff Holiday care packages and give the families an opportunity to spend time with each other as people going through the same challenges. This is the first step in a process of following the experiences of both the deployed soldiers and their families at home, which is a surprise for the unit itself and includes Slee's trip to Afghanistan this morning to film them.

"I come from a military family," says Slee. "I know what it's like when Dad's gone and Mom is 'Dad.'" Recognizing that unlike their deployed heroes, the families at home don't always have a mission to distract them from the pain and fear of deployment, Slee created Operation Patriot Care Package to "give the families a mission and bring them together with people who understand -- that's the purpose behind the effort. Not only do they fill packages, but via video they see the arrival and opening of the packages, and how much the gifts are appreciated."

The project's goal is already partially realized, according to military wife Jessica, who attended the packing event. "It's an amazing experience to know that we're able to contribute… It makes us feel good to think that they're going to have a smile on their faces over there," she says.

Slee spent three days with the families, documenting their homefront experiences and covering a family with a soldier on leave. Video from the families and the packing activities are distributed by PathFire and additional video will be available throughout Slee's trip, with the full documentary to come. Updates will be posted regularly at patriotcarepackage.com.

Soldiers' Angels is an award-winning 501(c)(3) with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information: www.soldiersangels.org or 615-676-0239.

SOURCE Soldiers' Angels

Here are some video clips of the event.

19 November 2010

A father's love

A father wipes a tear from his child's face during a Medevac mission in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. The child was injured by an explosion. Peter Andrews, Reuters / November 12, 2010.

16 November 2010

Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta Medal of Honor Ceremony today

The first living soldier to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam tells CBS's Lara Logan in an emotional interview just what he did to earn the nation's highest combat honor and how the recognition makes him uncomfortable.

Make sure to watch Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta receive the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry today at 2pm ET in East Room of the White House. A live stream will be here.

"The Right Reason"

Have you ever had an experience where you are so overwhelmed, that you were at a loss for words?

Taco of the Sandgram writes about his experiences at the fifth annual “Tribute to the troops” get together in this must-read story, For “The Right Reason”: Taking care of our Wounded Troops.

15 November 2010

Marine Corporal Todd Nicely - A Wounded Warrior's Story

March 26, 2010. Cpl. Todd Nicely is leading a patrol in southern Afghanistan with 12 Marines of the 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

Lance Cpl. Felix Camarillo, 19, of Los Angeles was third in line, behind Nicely and the platoon's commander, Lt. Brian J. McGrath Jr., 27, of Glenside, Pa., who was along to interact with locals.

Camarillo saw Nicely engulfed in dust and debris. "Nice!" he yelled.

The explosion knocked down the whole patrol, Camarillo said.

McGrath tried to quickly sweep the area with a metal detector to make sure there were no other bombs. But there were so many fragments on the ground that he threw the detector aside and rushed to Nicely.

The blast had blown off Nicely's helmet and flak jacket.

He looked awful.

"I almost lost it," Camarillo said. "There were bones sticking out... His right leg was just completely gone. His left hand was gone."

Much of his right arm was also gone and his left leg was barely attached, other Marines remembered.

He also had a wound that looked like shrapnel had gone through the bottom of his jaw and come out his left cheek and an abdominal wound with part of his bowel protruding, his friends said.

Camarillo and Lance Cpl. Sean Harrigan, 19, of Methuen, Mass., who were trained to treat combat trauma, put tourniquets on what remained of Nicely's limbs to stop the bleeding.

A strapping corpsman, Jerrod Francis, 21, of Louisville, sprinted over from another squad and went to work on the other wounds. He was amazed that Nicely's vital signs were decent.

Nicely recalled: "I remember... thinking to myself... 'Just keep breathing so you can get back to your wife.' "

Michael E. Ruane of the Washington Post does a terrific job telling the story of the day Cpl. Todd Nicely got hurt, how his fellow Marines saved his life, and of his subsequent progress. One of the things I like best about it is that he captures not just Todd's spirit, but that of his wife Crystal. Because there's more than one Hero in this story.


Marine Corporal Todd Nicely becomes honorary firefighter
Marine Corporal Todd Nicely comes home
The Prince and the Marine
Marine Corporal Todd Nicely update
"They got me home"
One of our Marines could use your prayers

14 November 2010

Valour-IT - Thank you

Since 2004, Soldiers' Angels has been on site supporting wounded and ill service members aeromedically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for evaluation and stabilization before being transferred for continued care at military medical facilities in the US (or, in some cases, returned to duty downrange).

During that time, tens of thousands of patients have transitioned through Landstuhl after a short stay of just a few days. Many arrive able to walk, but others arrive on life support and leave the same way. And sometimes, families are flown here to say goodbye to their Hero who subsequently makes his final journey home in a flag-draped transfer case.

We never know what happens to most of our patients after they leave Germany and cannot afford to dwell on it - because new ones immediately arrive to take their places. They, too, deserve the undivided attention of our caregivers.

Our comfort is found in the faith we have that our fellow Americans back home will care for them as we have here.

The annual Valour-IT online fundraiser began in 2005, taking the form of a "competition" between blogging teams representing the 4 service branches - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. All donations go into one fund which is of course used for members of all services. Here are the unofficial results of the 2010 online fundraiser.

Team MARINE: $38,470
Team ARMY: $26,505
Team NAVY: $12,127
Team AIR FORCE: $9,224
Unassigned: $7,546

2010 (unofficial) TOTAL: $93,872

The Soldiers' Angels Germany blog was once again proud to be a member of Valour-IT Team MARINE, which raised the most funds due to the dedication and leadership of our Team leaders, Cassy Fiano and Carrie of Villainous Company, and the extraordinary support of the Marine Corps family.

On behalf of our Wounded Warriors, I would like to thank all of the Valour-IT bloggers and their readers for their patriotism and for their generous support of Project Valour-IT.

11 November 2010

Veterans Day at the Soldiers' Angels Support Center

Miss San Antonio helps award Valour-IT laptops to some of our Wounded Warriors.

100 Valour-IT laptops ready to be awarded.

Wounded Warrior receives Valour-IT laptop from a Veteran of another war.

Volunteers from Bank of America assemble care packages for deployed troops.

And here they are, ready to go!

These photos and many more at Soldiers' Angels co-founder Jeff Bader's Facebook page, who says, "Today I had the honor of being with Heroes and Angels. What a great day! I hope you enjoy the pictures. Special thanks to Amy Palmer, Bank Of America, Mission Serve, La Quinta and so many others. Huge Hooaaah and angel wing hug to San Antonio Triad! 100 Laptops to 100 wounded heroes! Happy Veterans Day All."

More about today's event here.

* * *

Today, Veterans Day, is the last day of the annual online Valour-IT fundraiser. As a someone who has met many of our Wounded Warriors, I would like to thank all of our donors and bloggers for their generous support.

If you haven't donated yet, there's still time.

Home of the Free because of the Brave

Today we honor all of our veterans, past and present, who have served in defense of our nation. To those who have suffered the wounds of battle, we can never repay the sacrifices you have made. God bless you all, and God bless America: Home of the Free because of the Brave.

Thanks to CJ for the video.

10 November 2010

Miracle Marine

Brandon Bailey does exercises with the help of his physical therapist Michelle Michels. Michels has been Bailey's therapist since the beginning. Photo: The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran.

When a Taliban bomb drops a six-ton Humvee in your lap and, 21 months and 21 operations later, you can run backward up a hill, you believe in miracles.

Gunnery Sgt. Brandon Bailey believes.

On Jan. 24, 2009, Bailey was riding in the last vehicle of a four-truck convoy in Afghanistan's Farah province when they hit the IED.

The explosion threw the Humvee 138 feet. Five of the six Marines inside were ejected. One remained.

"My vest got caught on the truck's frame," Bailey says.

The Humvee flipped and landed with the top gun turret atop Bailey's pelvis. His torso was bent, like an envelope's flap, with him facing the ground. And conscious.

After the Humvee came to rest on that cold January night, "four Marines lifted that thing off of me," he recalls. "No jack. Just four Marines. That's a miracle."

Read the rest of Brandon's extraordinary story here. It's great to see you doing so well, Brandon, and OOHRAH to the four Marines who lifted that thing off you!

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home

Sgt. Thomas James Brennan of Randolph, Massachusetts, from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company, smokes a cigarette in his bunk surrounded by photographs of his wife Melinda and their daughter Madison, 2, after a night of rain at the remote outpost of Kunjak in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, October 29, 2010. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Happy birthday, Marines. And thank you.

Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps deliver 235th Birthday Message

Happy birthday, Marines!

09 November 2010

100 Laptops for 100 Wounded Troops on Veterans Day

100 Laptops for 100 Wounded Troops on Veterans Day

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Nov. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Veterans Day (November 11), Soldiers' Angels is honored to host a celebration of thanks for America's veterans at the Soldiers' Angels Support Center, the organization's warehouse and support complex in San Antonio across from Brooke Army Medical Center.

In recognition of America's wounded heroes and to give them a "hand up" as they adjust to life as a wounded veteran, Soldiers' Angels will hand out 100 new laptops to severely-wounded military personnel at the event. The laptop distribution is funded by the third TRIAD grant Soldiers' Angels has received for project Valour-IT, which provides technology to support the recovery and reintegration of wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including nearly 6,000 adaptive laptops in the last five and a half years.

Local members of the public are invited to the event, where they will be encouraged to pack care packages for deployed troops, fold small American flags, and write personal notes of gratitude that will be distributed to veterans and active duty personnel.

The sponsor for this event is Bank of America. Organizations partnering with Soldiers' Angels for this event are Operation Homefront, Mission Serve, Grainger, Best Buy, Herr Foods, eFusjon Energy Club, members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Miss San Antonio 2011 Dominique Ramirez, and local military and political leaders. Food will be served and attendees will have the opportunity to peruse the mementos and thank yous from the heroes Soldiers' Angels has supported.

Soldiers' Angels invites all San Antonio residents to this celebration of true American heroes, honoring those who have served and sacrificed in the defense of all Americans! For more information about this event, Soldiers' Angels, or how to donate to help our troops, contact Soldiers' Angels at mlopinto@soldiersangels.org

Soldiers' Angels is an award-winning 501(c)(3) with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information, visit www.soldiersangels.org or call 615-676-0239.

About Operation Homefront: Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers across 23 chapters and has met more than 267,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, $.95 of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes to programs. For more information about Operation Homefront, please visit OperationHomefront.net.

About TRIAD: Funding for the Soldiers' Angels Project Valor-IT project was provided in part by the Texas Resources for Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment (TRIAD) Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation. For more than 40 years, the San Antonio Area Foundation, a publicly supported philanthropic institution, has been administering donors' funds and granting gifts from those funds to worthy charitable causes that significantly enhance the quality of life in the communities they serve.

SOURCE Soldiers' Angels

You may make a donation to Project Valour-IT during the annual online fundraiser leading up to Veterans Day here.

Doc on patrol

Navy corpsman Mitchell Angoglia, of Dyer, Indiana, with India company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, First Marine Division , kneels during a patrol, Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 in Sangin, Afghanistan. AP Photo.

Those who say that we're in a time when there are no Heroes, they just don't know where to look

Captain Matthew Charles Ferrara
14 October 1983 - 9 November 2007

On November 9, 2007, 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2/503, 173rd ABCT, was ambushed by an overwhelming enemy force as they returned to Combat Outpost Bella following a meeting with tribal elders in the nearby village of Aranas.

Five Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and one Marine from the Mountain Warfare Training Center were killed. Eight more paratroopers and 11 Afghan National Army soldiers were wounded. Despite the heavy casualties taken during the opening minutes of the ambush, with nearly every man either killed or wounded, the patrol was ultimately able to repel their attackers and call in support.

Ammunition was dropped to the survivors by the arriving Apache helicopters, and eight separate air crews subsequently conducted what was to become a combined 31-hour MEDEVAC and recovery mission involving multiple lifts.

Our love, thoughts, and prayers are with Matt's family and the families of his brothers-in-arms who gave their lives for each other, their loved ones, and their country on 9 November 2007. We will remember them always.

* * *

Im Memoriam:

1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, 24, of Torrance, Calif.
SGT Jeffrey S. Mersman, 23, of Parker, Kansas
SPC Sean K.A. Langevin, 23, of Walnut Creek, California
SPC Lester G. Roque, 23, of Torrance, California
PFC Joseph M. Lancour, 21, of Swartz Creek, Michigan
all of Chosen Company, 2-503rd PIR, 173rd ABCT, and
Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks, 28, of Troy, Michigan

* * *

With gratitude to the MEDEVAC crews for their professionalism, selfless service and dedication to duty during our Heroes' final hours and to the AH-64 crews not only for their protection, but whose gun cameras documented this mission.

Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look.

- Ronald Reagan

08 November 2010

Musta been the flares

A flare flies over a shadow of a chase helicopter during a Medevac mission in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Province November 4, 2010. Reuters Photo.

Musta been the flares popped by the Project Valour-IT Team MARINE that allowed us to leave those other teams in the dust.

We're closing in on the second objective of $30,000 set just yesterday after plowing through our original $25,000 goal.

Thank you to all of our generous donors.

Onward, Marines!!

07 November 2010

Parents of the deployed are at war, too

"When a son is on the front lines, the most exquisite cuisine loses its flavor, movies are no longer exciting, conversations of pettiness can’t be stomached, and the company of others going through the same experience is the only solace."

Read the rest of this thoughtful essay by Cheryl Eager.

Time for a smoke break

Cpl. Andrew Rundle, of San Diego, California, with India company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, First Marine Division, lights a cigarette for himself and First Lt. Richard Spicer, of Houston, Texas, Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, in Sangin, Afghanistan. AP Photo.

The Project Valour-IT Team MARINE has just broken through its $25,000 fundraising goal. Thank you to all of our generous donors.

But we're not going to rest on our laurels. After we burn a couple, we're moving on to the next objective - $30,000! Oooh-rah, Marines!!

Fifth Annual "Blankets of Hope Marathon" generates 352 blankets in 8 hours

The 5th annual "Blankets of Hope Marathon", a unique community event created by Soldiers' Angels Lisa Dodson and Matt Dick, took place September 25th, 2010 at the Ascension Catholic Church in Bowie, MD.

Each year has been bigger than the last, and this year was no exception. Patriotic Americans of all ages showed up to make over 300 blankets for wounded service members recovering at Landstuhl hospital in Germany. "The first year they made 43 blankets and were so excited and proud of themselves," says Lisa Dodson. "This year it was 352 made in eight hours! Every year the event grows and grows."

The 150 volunteers in attendance, most of whom had participated in previous blanket-making marathons, drove up to 90 miles to participate. They were very enthusiastic and especially motivated by a story shared at the event. During a fundraising effort outside a local grocery store earlier in the year, a man pulled up his car to say, "I received one of those blankets earlier this year. Thank you, thank you." He then reached out the window to press something into an Angel’s hand and drove away. It was a $100 bill.

"I start getting questions within a month afterwards about when the next one will be,” says Lisa. "They get so excited! It really brings people together, and everyone leaves feeling so good about what they’ve done."

Preparations for each Marathon continue all year long, with Lisa and her husband Matt Dick rasising donations from friends and family who own businesses or have good relationships with businesses they use regularly. Companies, schools, a restaurant, individuals, local Lions Clubs and the local American Legion all pitched in with fundraising support that resulted in fabric for 180 blankets. In addition, each attendee of the event was asked to bring enough fleece to make at least one hand-tied blanket if possible.

Despite the current challenging economic situation, Lisa was able to raise more money than last year, with individual donations showing the greatest increase. Pico Textiles of California also stepped up, shipping hundreds of yards of fabric at no cost. Thanks to those donations the volunteers were able to make about 20 more blankets than last year, even though slightly fewer people participated.

Lisa would like to thank two fellow Angels who were particularly helpful in planning and preparations again this year: Maureen Barber and Valerie Potter - Lisa couldn't do it without you!

Here's some of your blankets that have already begun arriving in Germany.

Congratulations on another successful Marathon and THANK YOU all on behalf of the patients here at Landstuhl!

See more photos at the main SA website here, and photos of last year's event here.

Marines have the watch

U.S. Marines from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company stand by a wall during a night patrol in the town of Nabuk in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, October 31, 2010. Reuters Photo.

06 November 2010

Valour-IT: So much more than a laptop

A couple of years back, I received this note from the fiancee of one of the few Valour-IT recipients based in Germany.


I just want to tell you a quick story: Last Christmas (2 months after my fiance got of the hospital), we got a Christmas tree and decorated it.

We were missing the star to put on the top of the tree, so we used the little angel you sent us in a letter.

I just thought you should know that. And, that we have promised ourselves the angel will be used every Christmas on our tree :-)

How much is it worth for this couple to look at their Christmas tree each year and know that their fellow Americans love and appreciate them?


Valour-IT. Much, much more than a laptop.

Soldiers' Angels Germany is proud to be blogging once again this year for the Valour-IT Team MARINES. You may also donate in the name of one of the other service branches here. But all donations go to the same place - a fund providing laptop computers and other electronic devices to improve the lives of recovering wounded service members. If you've already contributed, thank you.

Landstuhl hospital: "The German front in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars"

In this video, Canadian Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Tiffin, an EOD Tech, recounts the events that led to his injury from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The accompanying story is called Wounded Canadians find a piece of home at German hospital.

RAMSTEIN AIR FORCE BASE, GERMANY—Standing in the bitterly cold wind blowing across the airstrip, Master Cpl. Karen Dickie waits for the giant C-17 aircraft to open its jaws.

After a few abortive tries, the mouth of the massive U.S. air ambulance opens and a whoosh of cool German air hits the faces of soldiers, acclimatized to the desert heat, as they lie on their stretchers.

Dickie, a Canadian Forces medic, walks up the metal ramp and scans the stretchers laid out in front of her in search of Toronto Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Tiffin. The naval diver was flown out of Kandahar eight hours earlier, after a bomb blew up in his hands.

Dickie is stationed at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the casualty hub for NATO troops airlifted from combat. She is one of eight specially trained Canadian soldiers whose sole purpose is to move our wounded from the battleground to this German safe haven before being flown home for further care.

She finds Tiffin, conscious and alert but with blackened, injured hands, and introduces herself. She explains he’s been brought here to Landstuhl, a giant trauma hospital deep in the heart of the Black Forest.

Landstuhl is often referred to as the German front in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Plane after plane of critically injured, baby-faced soldiers breathing on portable ventilators arrive daily suffering from blast injuries, severe burns and missing limbs.

All day, seven days a week, massive C-17 cargo carriers, each able to move nearly 80 injured soldiers in seats and stacked on stretchers three deep, land at Ramstein and are bused 15 minutes down the road to Landstuhl.

Since 2004, the hospital has cared for 65,000 patients — soldiers, diplomats, journalists — from 45 coalition nations.

Read the rest of Tiffin's and Dickie's stories in this inspiring story from the Toronto Star. And, as always, we're proud to stand with you, Canada!

05 November 2010

2010 Valour-IT Fundraiser Update - Thank you!

Just eight days into the 2010 Valour-IT Blogging Fundraising Competition, almost $50,000 has been raised towards our goal of $60,000. Thank you to everyone who's contributed!

Project Valour-IT helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support wounded warriors during their recovery.

The experience of Major Chuck Ziegenfuss, a partner of Project Valour-IT who suffered serious hand injuries while serving in Iraq, led to the creation of this program that has used voice-controlled laptops and other technology to support the recovery of approximately 5000 of wounded troops since 2005.

Technology supplied includes:

- Voice-controlled and other adaptive Laptops allow wounded service members to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.
- Wii Video Game Systems which are used as part of physical therapy program, and
- Personal GPS, to build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

As always, the "competition" is between blogging teams representing the 4 service branches - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines - to raise funds for Valour-IT. All donations go into one fund and will of course be used for members of all services.

Soldiers' Angels Germany is proud once again to be a member of the Team MARINES Valour-IT bloggers. You may also donate in the name of one of the other service branches here.

January 18th, 2006

Dear Mrs. Smith,

It was brought to my attention that your organization, Soldier's Angels, did something very special for the Marines of our Injured Support Battalion. I want to take this time and thank you so much for your contribution to make special memories for those who sacrifice so much.

Your contribution of laptops is quite above and beyond. I am grateful that you have taken time to honor our injured heroes.

I remain...

Thank you for your support of those who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

04 November 2010

Operation Damage Control

Doctors David Zonies (standing, center) and Dr. Jeff Marchessault and surgical tech Ashley Knezevich (R) take a moment for sustenance at 1:00 a.m. between surgeries at Role 3 Craig Joint-Theatre Hospital at Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan on October 23, 2010. After doing a surge of amputee patients they will move on to less critical surgeries waiting for them. Its a typical day and night for medical staff at Role 3 hospitals in Afghanistan before patients are moved on to Germany the next day. Photo: Linda Davidson / The Washington Post.

The surgeons here have a fierce dedication to saving every life. Only in mass casualty events must some patients be put aside and treated "expectantly," the euphemism for the assumption they will die. Even getting someone alive to Landstuhl, where their family can see them before they die, counts as a victory.

"We try not to withdraw care here in theater," Eastridge said.

But every once in a while it happens. It's usually someone with brain injuries so severe they're likely to die during transport. They're allowed to die here, with troops at the bedside. "That just affords them that last little bit of dignity," he said.

He stopped, and his eyes filled with tears.

Reporters of the Washington Post recently spent time with a DUSTOFF crew and with the staff of Role 3 Craig Joint-Theatre Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

In this segment, the reporters cover the weekly teleconference between doctors, nurses and medics at military hospitals in Afghanistan, Germany, and the US.

The week, the assembled group of over 80 people review the cases of the 13 critical patients treated the prior week. Nine of the patients will have permanent disabilities: Two lost one leg; two lost a leg and a foot; two lost both legs; two lost both legs and a hand; and one was paralyzed from the waist down.

The conference is run by Col. Brian Eastridge, a 47-year-old trauma surgeon with 23 years in the Army. He grew up in Damascus, Md., graduated from Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He now heads the Joint Theater Trauma System, which organizes trauma care in both wars.

Over five deployments, Eastridge has seen the entire arc of worsening wounds and increasing survival that has marked trauma care during the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Dressed in brown camouflage battle dress, he sits halfway around a large U made of wooden tables. Around him on the walls are idealized scenes of Afghan life painted by a local artist - a girl leading a caravan of camels, children being taught arithmetic at the base of a tree, kids flying kites.

Eastridge runs the conference with somber efficiency, offers comments sparingly and addresses his listeners mostly by location-"Kandahar," "Landstuhl," "Walter Reed."

The rapid-fire reports are dense with medical jargon and anatomical description. It's a narration of one disaster after another, and of how things were kept from getting worse, and made better, by skill, speed and attention. It's the aural equivalent of watching a dozen high-wire acts in which some people are rescued mid-fall.

Here's just one.

"Dismounted IED" injury is jargon for wounds caused by a bomb or mine that are suffered outside a vehicle. The soldier had tourniquets placed for partial amputation of both legs. One liter of a special IV fluid was given in the helicopter, and the patient arrived at the Kandahar hospital in and out of consciousness and in shock.

In the operating room, surgeons temporarily tied off the arteries going to the legs and repaired a tear in a major vein. There was massive damage to the area between the legs. One leg was amputated at the knee. In a second operation the next day his wounds were rewashed and a finger, broken in the explosion, was fixed with external hardware.

That same day the soldier was evacuated to Bagram, where his wounds were washed out and the pelvic region was re-explored. A "foreign body"- the speaker didn't say whether it was dirt, metal or something else - not seen in the first operation was removed. He suffered a collapsed lung after surgery, which was fixed.

He stayed there two days before flying by critical care air transport to Landstuhl.

Seven days after suffering his wounds the soldier arrived at a hospital in the United States. He had another collapsed lung, and pneumonia. His right foot, initially thought to be salvageable, wasn't healing and the surgeons planned to amputate it at the ankle. He had further surgery to his abdomen and numerous operations to start repairing the missing floor of his pelvis.

"This was one of the biggest pelvic injuries I've ever seen," said one of the surgeons in the United States. Eastridge later said he hears that a lot from surgeons in the United States who haven't been deployed yet.

This was not an uncommon case.

Make sure to view the accompanying photo gallery and see these dedicated professionals at work.

03 November 2010

Littlest Angel

SA Germany volunteer Meredith's daughter Reese helps unpack blankets sent by Linda Ferrara's "Sunshine Ladies" of Wilmington, CA.