Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Amputees struggle to return to duty (11/30/04)

Amputees struggle to return to duty
Precedent-wary Army must weigh capability
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
By David Wood
Newhouse News Service
Chuck Bartles took heart when President Bush pinned a Purple Heart to his chest this year, lauding him for courage and determination despite grievous wounds.

Sgt. Bartles, then struggling to recover from having his right arm blown off in Iraq, felt even better when Bush walked out of the hospital ward and made a stirring speech.

Just because a soldier has lost a leg or an arm in combat, the president said, doesn't mean he's useless. "People are no longer forced out of the military," he declared to applause. "Today, if wounded service members want to remain in uniform and can do the job, the military tries to help them stay."

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Monday, November 29, 2004

The beast of war (11/29/04)

The beast of war
UT grad returns from Iraq to battle mental collapse, military's maneuvers

By LYNNE DUKE, The Washington Post
November 29, 2004

"Satchel bomb!"

His shout shatters the night. The lieutenant is fighting, barking orders. He hollers and grunts. On the sofa at a friend's house, 1st Lt. Jullian Philip Goodrum, U.S. Army Reserve, wrestles and thrashes, fighting a war as he sleeps.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Military hospital handles flood of horrific injuries (8/8/04)

Trauma comes and goes at 'the Cash' / Military hospital handles flood of horrific injuries
John Koopman
Chronicle Staff Writer
1463 Words
08 August 2004
The San Francisco Chronicle
Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

It's called a "mass cal." It stands for mass casualties, and it happens all too often at the 31st Combat Support Hospital.

A car bomb goes off, or a convoy of soldiers comes under attack by roadside bombs or rocket-propelled grenades. The wounded come in by helicopter or ambulance. Many of them are missing arms or legs, or both.

One happened a couple of weeks ago after a mortar attack up north. It was the first mass cal for Capt. Jacquie Lewis of Atlanta.

"There was a man with a severe head wound," said Lewis, an Army social worker pressed into service for the mass cal. "His brains were exposed. It was awful.

"He didn't make it."

[partial text only]


Leonard Pitts Jr.
796 Words
03 November 2004
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.
Let me tell you about Greg.

I met him in 1985, back when I was still a pop music critic. A guy named Paul Hardcastle had a hit that year called "19," all about the toll the war in Vietnam exacted on a generation of American soldiers. It inspired me to visit a vet center and interview some soldiers, one of whom was Greg.

[partial text only]

Sunday, November 28, 2004

It's a long road back for injured soldier (11/28/04)

It's a long road back for injured soldier

Media General News Service
Sunday, November 28, 2004

WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Washington -- The physical-therapy room was filling up when Dean W. Schwartz walked in, a slight hitch in his gait from the blue titanium leg fitted to his left thigh.

The leg was temporary. So was his time here, six months after a rocket-propelled grenade blew off his leg on a bomb-pocked road in Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Sgt. Robert Faulk motioned toward an empty cot next to an older veteran with graying temples and no right leg. "You can have a spot here if you like, next to Superman," Faulk said.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Fighting to return to normal 11/28/04)

Fighting to return to normal
Sunday, November 28, 2004

WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Washington The physical-therapy room was filling up when Dean W. Schwartz walked in, a slight hitch in his gait from the blue titanium leg fitted to his left thigh.

The leg was temporary. So was his time here, six months after a rocket-propelled grenade blew off his leg on a bomb-pocked road in Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Sgt. Robert Faulk motioned toward an empty cot next to an older veteran with graying temples and no right leg. "You can have a spot here if you like, next to Superman," Faulk said.

Soldier offers up-close view of deadly attack
Surviving another's sacrifice
Fog of war led to severe depression
Fighting to return to normal

Schwartz's T-shirt read "Paradise Lounge," a memento of a trip to San Diego for a triathlon featuring "challenged athletes." He's one of them now, a wounded veteran learning to run on an artificial leg and carry on with his life. In just a few days, he will have completed the New York City Marathon on a hand-cranked cycle in a little more than 2 hours, 46 minutes.

The physical-therapy room at Walter Reed is one place where the sacrifice of war comes home. Here, the scope of it is revealed in the soldiers who return wounded and changed - more than 9,000, according to the Pentagon's estimate. An untold number return with their bodies whole, but their minds in peril, their hearts in darkness.

Here, the wounds are apparent. One veteran hobbled the length of the room slowly on crutches. His lower right leg was gone. His mangled left foot was set in a cage-like brace.

"Oh, that's so hard," the man whispered to the therapist trailing him.

This is the world that cartoonist Garry Trudeau studied firsthand and depicted in the "Doonesbury" saga of B.D., who, like Schwartz, lost a leg in an RPG attack in Iraq. In fact, Schwartz met Trudeau more than once in the amputee ward and physical therapy department at Walter Reed.

The mood, though, is more like a locker room than a hospital. The staff stays upbeat, and so do the guys, some of them double-amputees, all of them sweating out their exercise routines. The humor can be rough.

The older guy next to Schwartz yells at a teasing orderly, "You know I'll get up and beat you with this stump!"

Schwartz is 22. He wrestled and played football in high school in Charlotte County. He kayaked and climbed mountains in college in Wise County.

He's ready to get back to something like normal. When Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld visited him in the amputee ward at Walter Reed, Schwartz told him, "I can't change what happened. I'm going forward. I'm going back to college."

But Schwartz also knows that the world outside Walter Reed won't always understand him the way the people inside do.

"You've got people [here] you can relate to," he said. "It's kind of hard when you leave. . . . Everybody back home doesn't know about all this stuff."

One day after the presidential election, Walter Reed had treated 194 amputees since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Based on the Soviet Union's experience in Afghanistan two decades ago, the hospital was bracing for as many as 500 to 1,000.

But that was before the U.S. assault on the Iraqi insurgent stronghold of Fallujah and the counterattacks in other parts of the country, including Mosul, where Schwartz's company, part of the Virginia National Guard's 276th Engineer Battalion, is stationed.

Four members of the 276th, including one in his company, suffered minor injuries recently during attacks in and around Mosul. Soldiers in the battalion have received 26 Purple Hearts since arriving in Iraq in March.

U.S. military and veterans hospitals are "not prepared right now," said his mother, Deanna Schwartz, from their home near Keysville in Southside Virginia. "They've never had this many coming home wounded instead of dead."

Her son probably would have been among the dead if he had received this wound in Vietnam, she said. He probably would have bled to death. As it happened, he needed five units of blood and a heroic effort by the men in his platoon to survive.

Schwartz was wounded on May 8. His platoon, part of B Company, was fixing a road that had been cratered by a remote-controlled bomb. Two soldiers had been killed in that explosion.

That wasn't a good omen. Neither was the absence of the Iraqi work crew that was supposed to meet them there. "They never showed up," Schwartz said. "They obviously knew something was going to happen."

Normally, Schwartz operated the machine gun on the 5-ton armored truck. He had switched places with Eric Turner, a Guardsman from St. Paul in Southwest Virginia.

Schwartz thinks the grenade was fired at the truck from a junkyard near the road. "Nobody saw it coming," he said. "Nobody heard it coming."

The explosion ripped open the side of the truck and blew out Schwartz's right eardrum. The grenade sheared off his left leg below the knee and peppered his right forearm with shrapnel.

The heat of the blast was so intense that it cauterized and deadened the nerves in his shattered leg. Initially, he didn't feel much pain. He even tried to stand up to respond in case of small-arms fire.

Turner was hit with shrapnel and couldn't stand. Timothy "TJ" Richey, a former Midlothian High School football star and classmate of Schwartz at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, jumped into the truck and manned the gun.

The driver, Cpl. Bobby Hall of Richlands, was hit, too. He later told Schwartz that he blacked out. Somehow, though, he made the 20-minute trip to the field hospital in eight minutes.

Meanwhile, Schwartz's comrades were working to save his life. He remembers fumbling with the bandages from his kit. Sgt. James Spurlock, a Big Stone Gap resident who wasn't even supposed to be on the mission, "slapped the bandage out of my hand and took his belt off," he recalled.

Spurlock cinched the belt around Schwartz's leg. Another U.Va.-Wise classmate, Joel Williamson, who joined the Guard the same day in early 2002, worked on the leg as they drove.

"I was telling [Spurlock], I was a little sleepy," Schwartz said. "He said, 'You're not going to sleep.'"

In Keysville, Deanna Schwartz woke suddenly at 4 a.m., about the same time of the attack, eight hours ahead in Mosul. "All I said was, 'God be with my boy,'" she said.

Dean is one of six children in a military family. His father, Ed Schwartz Jr., spent 20 years in the Navy. One brother, Ed Schwartz III, or "Trey," is in the Navy. Another brother, Kenneth, was in the Marines. The four of them had their picture taken together in uniform last Christmas, before Dean left for Fort Dix, N.J., on his way to Iraq.

The day after Dean was wounded, the Schwartz family was together, celebrating Deanna's new master's degree in English from Longwood University. It was Mother's Day and her 91-year-old father was visiting from Hampton.

The phone rang. Ed Jr. answered. It was Dean, calling from Kuwait.

"All of a sudden, I saw my husband's face drop," Deanna Schwartz said.

Dean told his father that he had been hit the day before but "90 percent of him was all right," his mother said. When his father asked about the "other 10 percent," Dean replied, "It's still in Iraq."

. . .

Dean Schwartz walked along the 50-yard line to midfield at Carl Smith Stadium at U.Va.-Wise on the first Saturday of October, homecoming weekend. TJ Richey walked next to him, home on furlough.

They were two of the 24 students honored by the college for service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three members of the football team, including Richey, were among the names read.

In the stands, Deanna and Ed Schwartz couldn't hold back the tears. "That was rough," Ed Schwartz said afterward.

They had good reason to cry. Dean had walked to midfield without a cane, the first time he had walked unaided since losing his leg in May. He just had left Walter Reed Army Medical Center on leave after almost five months of surgery, recovery and rehabilitation.

The grenade had taken his leg off below the knee. Doctors at Walter Reed removed the knee to the thigh. They fitted him with a computerized artificial leg, a temporary measure until what was left of his real leg became stable enough for a final prosthesis.

Dean and TJ's homecoming was emotional for the school, too. Many of its students are members of the National Guard. Most of them need financial aid; many are the first of their family to attend college.

Guard service is one way to pay for school and one reason that, despite the financial need, U.Va.-Wise has the lowest average debt per student on graduation of any liberal-arts college in the country, according to rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

That's why Schwartz joined the Guard on Feb. 11, 2002, as the country prepared for war in Afghanistan against the terrorists who had struck with such devastating success exactly five months earlier. His tuition would be paid, as well as part of his room and board.

His best friend, Andy Corbett of Poquoson, and Joel Williamson, who later helped save his life, joined the same day. Another classmate, Todd Winstanley, was supposed to be with him but his car broke down; he joined three days later, on Valentine's Day.

Traditionally, service in the Guard requires camp in the summer and one weekend of service a month. Members of the Guard usually help manage natural disasters - floods, fire, and hurricanes, such as Isabel in September 2003.

"This is called the National Guard, not the International Guard," Deanna Schwartz said.

She worries that cutbacks have left the military without enough people for the jobs facing them abroad. She worries about a "back-door draft" that is putting reservists in harm's way in foreign wars.

"I think the National Guard is going in a different direction now than it ever did before," she said. "I think they need to prepare the families."

Good information was hard to get for the Schwartz family after they learned of Dean's injury. His mother knew one of his lungs had collapsed and he was running a high fever in Germany, but said she ran into a wall because of medical-privacy law.

They found out indirectly that Dean was being flown to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington for treatment at Walter Reed. When he landed at Andrews, four days after being wounded, his mother said he was listed as still being in Mosul.

"Parents are going in blind," she said. "We were told, do not show up at the hospital until you get permission. . . . We went anyway."

The Schwartzes got to Walter Reed at midnight the day Dean arrived. The next day, Deanna Schwartz walked into the room, past the doctors to her smiling son. "Give me a hug, kid," she said.

. . .

Autumn had settled over Southside Virginia. In Charlotte County, the high school homecoming parade is a ritual combining school spirit and Halloween theatrics.

Dean Schwartz perched atop the back seat of a red convertible as the parade's grand marshal. While waiting for the parade to begin, he goofed with old friends from Randolph-Henry High School, most of them buddies from his wrestling team.

He was showing off his $80,000 artificial leg. "It turns around, too," he joked, twisting the leg, with sock and shoe, backwards and up. "Halloween's coming up. Maybe we can scare some people."

It wasn't all joking, though. "I never realized just how much my knee did," he told Josh Hunsucker, a wrestler who graduated from Randolph-Henry last year and expects to be deployed abroad next spring with his Air Force unit.

Schwartz had driven to Charlotte County from Walter Reed that day with his girlfriend, Emily Phipps of Abingdon. All week he had been learning to run on his new leg and preparing to become "a 22-year-old retiree."

At his home near Keysville, he showed Emily the wooden cabinets his grandfather had built. A blue banner was draped ceremoniously over a chair in the front room of the log cabin. Part of the script was in Arabic. In English, it said, "Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 1May 8, 2004. To Dean Schwartz, the last deep blue hero."

The banner, echoing a line from the movie "Armageddon," came from Andy Corbett, Schwartz's best friend and fraternity brother at U.Va.-Wise. Corbett is still in Iraq with the 276th Engineer Battalion. Schwartz talked to him not long ago, but the conversation was brief.

"After about 15 minutes, he said, 'I've got to go. The mortars are coming.'"

Schwartz has been making the rounds as a wounded war hero. He gave the Veterans Day speech at his old high school. A few days later, he spoke to the local American Legion chapter. He represented the National Guard at a ground-breaking ceremony this month for a new prosthetic and advanced-rehabilitation unit at Walter Reed.

He's met some interesting people along the way, such as "Doonesbury" cartoonist Trudeau and comedian Robin Williams. His mother has a priceless picture of the family laughing with actor Tom Hanks after he sat on a whoopee cushion that Schwartz slipped into his chair at Walter Reed. He's been honored at the national headquarters of Wal-Mart, his old employer, where he met Hollywood stars Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith.

But Schwartz is getting tired of the attention and the demands, the hurrying and the waiting. "I'm looking forward to staying in one place for a little while," he said during one of his visits to Walter Reed.

He's trying to resume his college education. He has finished only three semesters because of two Army deployments (the first resulted in a five-month stay at Fort Eustis). He needs to complete work on four courses to be ready for next semester. He has bought a trailer in Wise and started making it home.

"It's frustrating," his mother said. "He wants to get back . . . to normal life. For Dean, the college is normal life."

After much paper-shuffling, Schwartz retired from the Army and the Guard on Nov. 6. He'll receive 60 percent of his active-duty pay while waiting for the Veterans Affairs system to assess him and establish a new level of disability pay.

His mother worries about the stress and trauma that may lurk beneath his placid, imperturbable surface. She has noticed that his temper is shorter. He's less open to chatting and prone to the occasional fit of panic. He's tired.

"I'm kind of backing off and letting him do what he wants. He needs me to back off now."

The man who makes and fits the artificial legs, Dr. Dennis E. Clark, said Schwartz will come through the ordeal better than most.

Clark, owner of an Iowa-based prosthetic practice, has spent four-day weeks at Walter Reed for more than a year, working with Schwartz and others who have lost arms and legs to combat wounds.

"He gets it," Clark said of Schwartz. "He's got the physical, mental, and emotional capacity to manage his way through this.

"He will have no constraints in his life."


Guard units
Virginia Army National Guard active federal deployments serving overseas

About 179 soldiers from the 3647th Maintenance Company entered active federal service on Dec. 7, 2003 and are serving in Iraq. Unit hometowns are Blackstone and Richmond.
About 525 soldiers from the 276th Engineer Battalion entered active federal service on Dec. 18, 2003 and are serving in Iraq. Unit hometowns are: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Richmond; Company A, Powhatan County; Company B, Richlands; and Company C, West Point.
About 25 soldiers from the 54th Field Artillery Brigade entered active federal service on Feb. 29 and are serving in Afghanistan. Unit hometown is Virginia Beach.
About 570 soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry entered active federal service on March 1 and are serving in Afghanistan. Unit home towns are: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry, Winchester; Company A, Manassas; Company B, Woodstock and Warrenton; Company C, Leesburg.
Nine soldiers from Joint Force Headquarters-Virginia entered active federal service on June 22 and are serving in Afghanistan. The unit hometown is Blackstone. Virginia Army National Guard units that have deployed and returned from active federal service
About 350 soldiers from Headquarters, 29th Infantry Division (Light), 224th Aviation, and 229th Engineer Battalion returned in April 2002 from Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they participated in the NATO peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. Unit hometowns are 29th Infantry Division, Fort Belvoir; 224th Aviation, Sandston; and 229th Engineer Battalion, Fredericksburg.
70 Soldiers of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group returned from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in November 2002. Unit hometown is Fort A.P. Hill, Bowling Green.
Four soldiers of the Engineer Brigade, 28th Division served in Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of NATO peacekeeping operations in the Balkans from November 2002 through April 2003. Unit hometown is Fort A. P. Hill.
Five soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in November 2002 and were released from duty in June 2003. Unit hometown is Sandston.
Seven soldiers of the Virginia Army National Guard Data Processing Unit served in Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They returned to their home station in September 2003. Unit hometown is Manassas.
About 325 soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry were mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in November 2002. After completing post-mobilization training at Fort Bragg, N. C. they deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They returned to their home stations in October 2003. Unit hometowns are Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Lexington and Harrisonburg.
Eight soldiers from Detachment 26, Operational Support Airlift Command entered active federal service on March 3, 2003 and served in Kuwait. The unit returned to its home station October 2003. Unit hometown is Sandston.
About 35 soldiers from the 1030th Engineer Battalion entered active federal service on March 15, 2003 and served in Iraq until it was released from active federal service in January 2004. Unit hometown is Gate City.
About 170 soldiers from the 1032nd Transportation Company deployed to their mobilization station at Fort Eustis on Feb. 10, 2003, and served in Iraq. The unit was released from active federal service in April 2004. Unit hometowns are Gate City and Bristol.
About 120 soldiers from the 229th Military Police Company entered active federal service on Feb. 10, 2003 and served in Kuwait and Iraq. The unit was released from active federal service in April 2004. Unit hometown is Virginia Beach.
Virginia Air National Guard active federal deployments

About 45 airmen of the 192nd Fighter Wing and the 200th Weather Flight are deployed at locations throughout the United States and around the world in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Air Expeditionary Force operations. Unit hometown is Sandston. Virginia Air National Guard units that have deployed and returned from active federal service
About 190 airmen of the 192nd Fighter Wing, completed a 45-day overseas deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and returned to their home station in Sandston on Oct. 20, 2003.
About 115 airmen of the 203rd Red Horse Flight stationed in Virginia Beach entered active federal service in March 2003 and deployed to Iraq. The unit returned to its home station in October 2003.

Contact Michael Martz at (804) 230-4952 or mmartz@timesdispatch.com

This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031779385948&path=!news&s=1045855934842

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Local surgeon brings hope, limbs to wounded soldiers (11/26/04)

Local surgeon brings hope, limbs to wounded soldiers

By Hal Bernton
Seattle Times staff reporter

Dr. Doug Smith checks patient Larry King's leg at Harborview Medical Center. King's leg was amputated below the knee in 2000.

Dr. Doug Smith is a Harborview Medical Center surgeon who performs amputations on injured loggers, fishermen, construction workers and others.

That expertise has pulled him into the frontlines of the U.S. military effort to treat soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every few months, Smith flies to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., the nation's major military center for amputee care. There, he advises on patient care, visits clinics and occasionally assists in surgery.

So far, more than 200 U.S. soldiers have undergone amputation of all or a portion of a major limb, including at least a dozen injured during the last few weeks of fierce clashes in central Iraq. These amputations typically result from blast wounds, which create large areas of dead and dying tissue at risk for infections that can complicate healing.

"Amputation is not glamorous surgery, and when there's no war, there aren't very many people talking about it or trying to teach it," said Smith, an orthopedic surgeon. "Now there is a lot of interest, and people really want to learn how to do this right."

Smith gained his skills here in the Pacific Northwest, where accidents on rough seas or rough terrain have helped make the region a major hub for amputation surgery.

Last year, Harborview reported 166 amputations, many performed by Smith.

"It's very painful surgery, involving tissue, bone, muscle and nerves. And emotionally, it's pretty tough to look down and see part of your body gone. Our limbs are not only vital for function but also of our body image."

Smith, 46, is very active outside the operating room. He serves on the University of Washington faculty, directs a Seattle-based research center that develops prostheses, and works with a national coalition to improve the long-term care of amputees. He also has co-edited a medical atlas on limb surgery, prosthetics and rehabilitation.

Smith first visited Walter Reed in spring 2002 as the first wounded soldiers returned from Afghanistan. He then joined a Walter Reed hospital board to help advise on patient care, and last year gained hospital privileges to occasionally assist in surgeries.

"He is a recognized authority on amputee care, and we certainly value his advice," said Col. William C. Doukas, chairman of the Walter Reed department of orthopedics and rehabilitation.

The loss of limbs has been a grim result of insurgency warfare, and some of the wounded do not show up in U.S. government tallies of the war. Many are civilians who may have been targeted in a terrorist attack, or wounded by errant gunfire, and likely to end up in Iraq or Afghanistan hospitals, which often experience a shortage of medical supplies and modern prostheses.

The U.S. casualty count is tallied by the Pentagon, and updated each week. The most seriously injured soldiers move through military field hospitals, then to a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and finally return stateside to Walter Reed.

Many of the military amputees suffered horrendous injuries that may combine the trauma of limb loss with burns or other war wounds. It may take weeks for the full extent of the limb damage to become clear, and several months to a year before the limb stabilizes enough for a prosthetic fitting.

It can be a tough task to know when to try to save a limb, and when to amputate it. The salvage effort can involve numerous surgeries, and bone and skin grafts, but may eventually yield a limb of little use. The amputation is a more severe surgery but can sometimes — with the aid of a prosthesis — yield a better result, according to Smith.

"I try to remind people that amputation isn't always a failure," he said.

According to U.S. Defense Department statistics, the more than 200 war amputees include 47 who have undergone below-the-knee surgery, 37 who have undergone above the knee surgery, and at least 14 who have lost portions of both their legs.

The rehabilitation of these patients poses a huge challenge for Walter Reed, which earlier this month broke ground on a new center that will include a wide range of programs to help those who have lost limbs regain their strength, retrain for military skills and be fitted with new prostheses.

So far, Smith said he has been impressed with the quality of the care at Walter Reed, and the soldiers' drive to overcome their injuries. An Army Special Forces soldier who lost a foot last January was outfitted with a prosthesis in March. By May, he was jogging five miles every other day.

"[More than] 90 percent of these soldiers have asked to try to stay, and continue to serve," Smith said. And the Army increasingly is willing to keep amputees on active duty rather than funneling them through military retirement.

But for many soldiers, the path to recovery is long and frustrating.

Army Sgt. Trevor Phillips has undergone about a half dozen surgeries to help him heal from the loss of a part of his right arm in Iraq in May. Though satisfied with his medical care, Phillips, of Onalaska, Lewis County, has struggled with life at the medical hold unit at Walter Reed.

Soldiers are assigned to the hold unit during recovery. Phillips says he has been unable to get enough help to guide him through the paperwork bureaucracy that envelops a wounded soldier. More importantly, he says, he failed to get respect from the soldiers in charge of the hospital's medical hold unit.

Phillips' anger is stoked by a major paperwork mistake that he says unexpectedly cut his pay for several months this summer. This caused serious financial hardships that forced his wife and two daughters to move out of their rented home in Onalaska.

And he says that the unit's leadership was slow to respond to his concerns.

"The way we have been treated, it's a disgrace," Phillips said.

In October, Phillips was allowed to return home to Onalaska, where friends and others in the community raised money to help his family. Phillips said he dreaded his return to Walter Reed. But on Nov. 17, he flew east to rejoin the medical hold unit.

Smith said he was disturbed to hear of Phillips' situation. "I can understand how the bureaucracy is frustrating, and it's horrible that someone feels like that," he said.

Smith's advisory group includes soldiers who have gone through rehabilitation. The group is seeking to improve the long-term support for amputees who often undergo a lengthy and difficult period of readjustment.

But Smith said he has not heard widespread complaints about patient treatment at the hospital.

"On the medical side, I have seen the staff show amazing respect and dignity for the patients," he said.

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or hbernton@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Injured infantryman captivates students with tales of Iraq combat (photos included)

Injured infantryman captivates students with tales of Iraq combat
By KATE WILTROUT, The Virginian-Pilot
© November 25, 2004
Last updated: 9:26 PM

NORFOLK — While volunteers worked at warp speed to make his parents’ house wheelchair-accessible, and an expert in a laboratory put the final touches on his new legs, Jon Bartlett spent Wednesday at one of his old haunts: Maury High School.

On a break from hospital life, and away from the sounds of nail guns and power saws, the 19-year-old soldier sat where he loves to be: at the center of attention and in command of a room.

About a dozen students, many in Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps uniforms, squeezed their desks into a circle around Bartlett’s wheelchair in Room 108.

The infantry grunt, a private first class with two stumps covered by desert camouflage pants, captivated the room with raucous, irreverent stories of combat.

Beneath the humor that has kept his spirits high, Bartlett’s tales were a reality check for the group, a reminder that the military they might enter after graduation has deadly serious business in Iraq.

Prompted by Linda E. Fox, a retired Navy master chief who teaches ROTC classes at Maury, Bartlett talked about what it’s like to drive a Humvee (not as fun as being the gunner), whether you have to ask for permission to shoot at a potential enemy (no), and why soldiers wear two dog tags around their necks (one to stay with the body if they die; the other for record-keeping).

“I’ve told stories for four years,” Fox said afterward. “And it still can’t compare to them hearing from him. He has absolutely the best attitude. That’s why I wanted to bring him back.”

Though just a few years older than his audience, Bartlett, who graduated from Maury in 2003, spoke with authority that Fox couldn’t question. She did, however, try to clean up his salty language, or at least translate it into less-offensive words – conditions didn’t “suck,” they “stank;” soldiers didn’t “steal” equipment from other units, they “acquired” it.

Bartlett played along – one of his nurses at Walter Reed Army Medical Center also tried, in vain, to get him to clean up his language – but he invariably slipped back into barracks vocabulary, which kept his audience laughing.

Humor, and a tendency to describe his injuries and pain without embarrassment or self-consciousness, have helped Bartlett come to grips with his new life.

He has come a long way in a short time.

Jon Bartlett tells a story about his time in Iraq to students Wednesday at Muary High School while home visiting for Thanksgiving.

Exactly two months ago, on Sept. 25 , Bartlett lost one leg when an improvised explosive device tore through the Humvee he was driving south of Fallujah. The former track athlete had the other badly injured leg, bleeding heavily, amputated. He is making the most of his first trip home before heading back to the hospital this weekend. There’s good reason to go back: He’s scheduled to get his first prosthetic leg next week, and hopes to be walking when he returns for Christmas.

His parents, and a legion of volunteers who are working on the family’s home off Little Creek Road , hope to have the house finished by then.

The project, which includes adding wheelchair ramps, a bathroom, bedroom and laundry room, and re-doing the kitchen, would normally take about three months and cost upward of $50,000 .

Dave Klemt, a general contractor whose father designed the project, hopes to finish it in 30 days. The mission is the work of dozens of organizations that have donated supplies, volunteers and money.

Klemt said that within a day of conceiving the project for the Bartletts, he had all the labor and materials lined up. The feedback from people he approached was “immediate and overwhelming,” Klemt said.

Rocky Bartlett , Jon’s father, feels a little overwhelmed himself.

A Navy veteran who joined the military during the Vietnam War, the elder Bartlett remembers warriors from that era being reviled when they got home.

In contrast, he is almost exhausted by the attention his son is receiving from the media and private citizens who want to help.

It goes against his grain to accept handouts, but Rocky Bartlett is learning to say “yes” when it’s for his son’s benefit. A benefit concert and various fund-raising effort already have netted more than $10,000 .

“You have a person who does for himself most of the time, and then you have all these people show up, all these companies. It’s overwhelming,” he said, wonder creeping into his voice. “Maybe they ought to have more Jon-Jons, so the community comes together a little more often.”

Though the back of the house has been torn off and the kitchen door now opens onto an unfinished room, Bartlett looked forward to putting on a Thanksgiving dinner for family and “lost souls” who needed somewhere to eat.

“Jon-Jon has decided he wants a home-cooked, Mama dinner, and we’re going to give him a home-cooked, Mama dinner. That’s what he wants, that’s what he’s going to get.”

Reach Kate Wiltrout at 446-2629 or kate.wiltrout@pilotonline.com.

Workers from 21st Century Builders work to frame the addition being added to Jon Bartlett’s parents’ home in Norfolk. Many contractors are volunteering their time to help make the home wheelchair-accessible.

Friends of the Bartlett family have opened an account to help family members travel to Washington to visit Jon and pay for wheelchair-accessible changes to their home. Those interested in donating money should deposit it in SunTrust account #1000027873214 . The account is in the name of “Ruth Roper and Rocky Wayne Bartlett, FBO Jonathan Bartlett.” For more information about how to help, call family friend Ruth Roper at 839-2122.

Also, the Maury High School orchestra’s holiday concert at at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at the school will collect donations for the effort.

Soldier celebrates life year after he lost his leg

November 24, 2004

Soldier Celebrates Life After Losing Leg

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) - Staff Sgt. Joshua Olson called it his "Alive Day," the one-year anniversary of the day he lost his leg in Iraq. He marked the date by traveling from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington back to the Fort Campbell woods where he once instructed men as a squad leader. Instead of camouflage, he wore jeans and a T-shirt, and used crutches to get around on one leg.

He wanted to get back to the comrades who helped him after he was hit by rocket fire. And he wanted to express his thanks, simply for being alive.

"Like I told these guys, `I would give anything, anything to trade places with any of you guys right now,'" Olson said. "I would. That's the total truth, but there's a power greater than me that has something else for me, so I move on."

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Medics Testify to Fallujah's Horrors (11/24/04)

Medics Testify to Fallujah's Horrors
Navy Corpsmen Treated Unusually Devastating Injuries at Field Hospital
By Jackie Spinner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2004; Page A15

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The first time Jose Ramirez saw a human body ripped apart by a rocket, it took hours for him to regain his composure. Nothing in his training as a Navy medical corpsman had prepared him for the sight of the dead Marine brought in September to the military field hospital outside Fallujah.

"I walked around in shock," said Ramirez, 26, of San Antonio, a Navy petty officer third class attached to Bravo Surgical Company. "I've seen people die before on the emergency room table. But what I was trying not to do, what I was trained not to do, is look at the patient with tunnel vision. It reminded me that I had to get prepared."

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Soldier finds new meaning in Thanksgiving

Posted 11/23/2004 8:11 PM Updated 11/23/2004 8:38 PM
Soldier finds new meaning in Thanksgiving
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Army Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty has no complaints. Not about missing Thanksgivings with his family for most of the last decade. Not about spending half a year in the hospital.

Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty continues his recovery at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
James Kegley for USA TODAY

And not about losing his legs after an ambush in July in Iraq.

"I'm just thankful for my family, my friends, and that my recovery has gone so well," says Doughty, 29, of Paducah, Ky. "When I think about Thanksgiving this year, I'm just so grateful that I've received such excellent care from so many people. Everybody's so well taken care of here."

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Consequences of war merge with Thanksgiving 11/23/04)

Consequences of war merge with Thanksgiving

Danielle Green, self-described "one tough sister" from Chicago, always cherishes the time of season when there's a chill, a turkey roasting and football on TV. This year, she knows why she's thankful.
Unlike the former Notre Dame basketball player and soldier, most of us don't fully grasp the simple, underrated concept of gratefulness. We're too absorbed in the superficial aspects of our debased culture. We're preoccupied with the ESPN-ization of our daily lives. An overdose of perspective is welcomed.

Last May, Green lost her wedding ring — while it was attached to her left hand, blown off by a rocket-propelled grenade atop a Baghdad police station. Army comrades found the ring on her dominant hand, buried in 6 inches of sand. Green, 27, is home for a week after six months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she has had seven surgeries and endless therapy.

"I am really thankful," she says. "I mean, Thanksgiving really means something now, you know? I probably shouldn't be here. But I am."

More than 9,300 American soldiers have been wounded during the war in Iraq. Dick Lynch, a former Brown University football player, and ex-NFL star Christian Okoye have co-founded Impact Player Partners. Designed to pair disabled veterans with athletes, it is an offshoot of Lynch's Impact Player League, which markets athletes with disabilities and disabled vets.

"The people really suffering are those fighting the war on terrorism and their families," Lynch says. "Then there's the rest of us. We appreciate what (soldiers) are doing, but we're still going to soccer games and church. We don't have the skins in the game they do."

James "Eddie" Wright, a 28-year-old Marine corporal, lost both hands after his Humvee was hit by an enemy ambush. The blast broke one of his legs and ruptured an eardrum. Wright had a chance to attend a Miami Dolphins game, where he met his favorite player, Junior Seau, whose foundation funded the trip. Eddie's still talking about that day, probably more so than his Bronze Star. So are some of the big, tough Dolphins whose legs he turned into jelly, guys like Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor.

Then there's Mike McNaughton, 32, a sergeant in the National Guard. He volunteered to clear mines in Afghanistan. One day, the Louisiana native stopped on the wrong spot. He lost his right leg, two fingers and part of his left leg. This summer, McNaughton went to a NASCAR race at Talladega, Ala., where, as a guest of Hendrick Motorsports, he met with several drivers.

This fall, three disabled vets were invited to a Houston Texans practice. The Air Force's Scott Palomino, 21, and Anthony Pizzifred, 20, who both had their left legs amputated below the knee, caught passes from David Carr. Receiver Andre Johnson ran with Brian Wilhelm, 22, an Army infantryman who lost a leg and uses a prosthetic device.

"We talk all the time in this game about making sacrifices," Houston coach Dom Capers says. "Then, all of a sudden, you have three young guys your age standing in front of you with artificial legs. These men made the ultimate sacrifice. We forget that many times because we get caught up in our own world."

Too many times, it's a universe of the inane. One where Bill Parcells' words are dissected. Where the poor judgment of a network and a player is endlessly rehashed. Where the Ron Artests of the world trigger a riot, then days later crassly promote an album on national TV as if nothing happened.

"I was thinking about this the other day," Green says. "I appreciate what I have now. I don't think about what I don't have. Even our have-nots have more than the Iraqi civilians have. I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for life in America. It makes me that much more thankful. Just look at our athletes, like Latrell Sprewell. Ten million is not enough to feed his family — what kind of statement is that? I think of how spoiled and ungrateful some of us are."

Then she remembers the way it used to be, before she went to war, before she gave her left hand for something greater than herself.

Soldier finds new meaning in Thanksgiving (11/23/04)

Soldier finds new meaning in Thanksgiving
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Army Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty has no complaints. Not about missing Thanksgivings with his family for most of the last decade. Not about spending half a year in the hospital.

Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty continues his recovery at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
James Kegley for USA TODAY

And not about losing his legs after an ambush in July in Iraq.

"I'm just thankful for my family, my friends, and that my recovery has gone so well," says Doughty, 29, of Paducah, Ky. "When I think about Thanksgiving this year, I'm just so grateful that I've received such excellent care from so many people. Everybody's so well taken care of here."

Here is the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Doughty sits in a model apartment in the hospital's occupational therapy ward and reflects on what Thanksgiving means to him. Patients, many who lost arms and legs, use the rooms to learn again how to open a door, take a shower or pop a pizza in the microwave.

"It used to be that I'd numb myself to Thanksgiving and holidays," Doughty says. "You got so used to missing them. It's different now because of the injury. Everything's different."

It's different as well for many of the 9,326 U.S. troops that the Defense Department says have been wounded since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. At Walter Reed, more than 3,600 soldiers have been treated — 881 with battle-related wounds. The facility is currently caring for 47 hospitalized soldiers, plus 200 others as outpatients.

Since Doughty was in junior high school, he remembers wanting to be in the Army, in part to satisfy a taste for adventure.

He found it.

Doughty joined the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in New York, served on a peacekeeping mission in Haiti in 1994 and became an Army recruiter. One of the young soldiers he brought in was his brother John, now a military policeman.

"Then Sept. 11, 2001, happened, and I kind of felt on the sidelines" as a recruiter, he says. "I was ready to get back into it."

As a member of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Doughty arrived in Iraq in May. He was based in the Sunni Triangle, the hotbed of the insurgency.

His unit's top goal was training the Iraqi national guard. But as an intelligence specialist he also helped track bombmakers and terrorists. They caught some, and Doughty felt his unit was making a difference.

"The vast majority of Iraqis we met want to get on with everyday life, get jobs and an income," he says. "Just a small percentage are terrorists. It was kind of slow going at first. It takes time to build up reliable contacts."

Victim of an ambush

On July 8, Doughty rode in the passenger seat of the lead Humvee in a three-vehicle convoy. The vehicles had no armor or doors so soldiers could quickly get out during a mission. The troops left early, hoping to beat the 120-degree midday heat and deliver laptop computers and a vehicle about 50 miles south of Samarra.

"We were on the Samarra bypass when we were ambushed," he says. "A 155mm-mortar round hit us, just behind where I was sitting. I knew my legs were hurt bad, but I avoided looking at them."

Doughty remained conscious. He recalls medics applying tourniquets to his legs, dressing gaping wounds, injecting him with morphine and intravenous fluids.

"Special forces medics are like doctors on a battlefield," he says. "I had every confidence in them to fix me up."

A helicopter whisked him to a combat surgical hospital in Balad, Iraq. Hours later the phone rang at his parents home in Calvert City, Ky.

A captain told his mother, Diane Doughty, that Robbie had been badly hurt. A half-hour later the captain called back and asked if he could come to their house.

"That sent up a red flag," she says. "When he showed up with another man who turned out to be a chaplain, I thought we'd lost him. We found out God had spared Robbie's life, but he had lost both his legs."

Lt. Col. Tim Williams, Doughty's commander, visited Doughty at the hospital in Balad, three hours after his legs had been amputated — his right leg above the knee, and his left just below.

"He's coming around for the first time, and his demeanor was still so positive after such a catastrophic injury," Williams says. "We're all so proud of him. He's the kind of guy we want serving our country. He has the kind of attitude I only wish more people could have."

That attitude has served him well through months of rehabilitation. Doughty remembers "a lot of pain" the first month. Determination, he says, saw him stand again "two months to the day of the ambush."

Within days of his amputations, Diane Doughty moved to Washington to help her son. His father spent a month here as well.

"We moved as quickly as possible to start the journey of learning to walk again," she says. "I'm so thankful that God spared his life, and he can spend Thanksgiving with us. I think that God has a plan for Robbie. We don't know just what yet. But we are so, so thankful for that."

Doughty attributes his relatively smooth recovery to his parents, his doctors and nurses and therapists.

The occupational therapy ward bustles with a dozen or more soldiers — some missing arms, others legs — testing out prostheses. All the while therapists offer guidance, smiles and encouragement.

That upbeat atmosphere, can-do attitude is especially important to maintain as Thanksgiving approaches. The hospital is planning a traditional holiday dinner for the patients and their families.

Help comes from unexpected places, too. Like the 50-member Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5811 from Lake Geneva, Wis. They've adopted Doughty's Special Forces battalion.

"I wanted to select a unit that encountered high risk, a front-line unit," says Larry Kutschma, the post's commander who was attached to the battalion in Vietnam.

Last week, Kutschma delivered 20, 18-pound Thanksgiving turkeys to families in the battalion based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. And they've reached out to Doughty, too. They've given him a life membership in the VFW.

"It's really an honor and a privilege," Kutschma says. "It's just a pleasure to get to know him."

Draws strength from others

Doughty also points to the examples of other wounded soldiers and veterans. Doughty works out daily in the gym at Walter Reed, along with many other amputees. It shows. He's fit and solidly built.

James Kegley for USA TODAY
Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty is thankful for his his family and friends and that his recovery from his wounds in Iraq is going well.

For the moment he's resting in a wheelchair. But he's lashed crutches to the back of his wheelchair and prefers to use them to steady himself as he grows accustomed to walking on his high-tech prosthetic legs.

"What helps me most is being here and knowing that it didn't just happen to me," Doughty says. "There are others who got wounded, some less, some worse than me. You see other people working on their recovery in the gym and it drives you to succeed. I think it's good for new patients to see me there.

"We've also had amputees from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. You see that they've lived long, full lives and you know you can do it, too."

The next chapter begins soon.

He'll spend Thanksgiving with his girlfriend and at a friend's house in the Washington area.

Then he'll head back to Kentucky. He'll begin a month of convalescent leave, and then he'll retire from the Army after 11 years of active duty and two in the reserves. Doughty had intended on a career in the military but the injury ended that.

More college is a possibility, he says. He already has an associate degree and could picture himself working in health care.

Doughty and his family are just thankful that he is alive and can conquer obstacles — like learning to walk again.

"I'll try to figure out what my new life will be," he says. "The Army is the only job I've ever done. I'll miss it. But I like a challenge too."

Doughty, for one, is not complaining.

Monday, November 22, 2004

New rehabilitation center opens at Walter Reed (11/22/04)

New rehabilitation center opens at Walter Reed
By Sam Hananel
Associated Press

A state-of-the-art rehabilitation center opening next year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center seeks to return more amputee soldiers to a place once thought impossible: the battlefield.
Besides treadmills and stationary bikes, the $10 million Military Amputee Training Center will have weapons simulators, a climbing and rappelling wall and military vehicle simulators to help soldiers adapt their prosthetics to driving tanks and trucks.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Cheating Grim Death

Defence & Arms
Cheating Grim Death
By Nancy Shute, U.S. News 20/11/04
Nov 21, 2004, 09:21

LANDSTUHL, GERMANY--"Mom, is that you? I'm alive."

When Pat Coleman heard those words in a midnight phone call, she knew her son had been wounded in Iraq.
David Coleman, a 20-year-old Marine lance corporal, was calling home on a satellite phone to Butte, Mont., from a hospital in Baghdad. He didn't know how badly he was injured. Only later would he learn that he'd nearly bled to death, that the improvised explosive device that ripped open his armored humvee on September 23 had shattered both his legs, and that he had only a fifty-fifty shot at not having his right leg amputated. At that point, the young marine knew only that he was about to be evacuated to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and that everyone said if you made it to Landstuhl, you were going to be OK.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Friday, November 19, 2004

Military Amputees to Get New Rehab Center (11/19/04)

Military Amputees to Get New Rehab Center
Updated: Friday, Nov. 19, 2004 - 4:52 PM

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - A state-of-the-art rehabilitation center opening next year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center seeks to return more amputee soldiers to a place once thought impossible: the battlefield.

Besides treadmills and stationary bikes, the $10 million Military Amputee Training Center will have weapons simulators, a climbing and rappelling wall and military vehicle simulators to help soldiers adapt their prosthetics to driving tanks and trucks.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Injured Marine's parents fight to get other son home from Iraq (11/17/04)

Injured Marine's parents fight to get other son home from Iraq

By the Associated Press
BETHESDA, Md. — The parents of two Marines from Connecticut are fighting to get their youngest son out of Iraq after his brother was seriously injured in the assault on Fallujah.

Brian Johnston, 24, lost his right arm and most of his right leg in an explosion on Nov. 9, the second day of the effort to take Fallujah from insurgents. His younger brother, Kevin, 20, remains in Fallujah with a different Marine unit, his parents said.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Stryker soldier who lost arm in Iraq finds his life plans derailed ( 11/11/04)

Stryker soldier who lost arm in Iraq finds his life plans derailed
Onalaska Family Struggles With Injury

ONALASKA -- Sgt. Trevor Phillips sacrificed more than his right hand on a May 11 combat patrol in Iraq.
Phillips, 26, a vehicle commander for the Army's first Stryker brigade, lost a clear future for himself and his family.

Phillips planned to join his wife, Christa, and their two young daughters in this Lewis County town after his tour, leave the Army and join the Coast Guard.

Those goals ended when he crested a hill in Mosul and an improvised explosive device detonated 4 feet from him while he was manning a machine gun from his vehicle's roof hatch.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Paying tribute to veterans (11/11/04) 152 as of 9/30/04

Paying tribute to veterans
VA medical centers focus on returning troops
By Joanne Huist Smith

Dayton Daily News

DAYTON | Most days, Carlotta Webb wears hospital scrubs to work as a nurse in the cardiology unit at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center. But the 57-year-old grandmother, a major in the Air Force Reserve Nurse Corps, also helps injured soldiers get closer to home as a chief nurse with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's 445th Airlift Wing.

She will spend Thanksgiving getting sick and wounded soldiers stateside for additional medical care.

"I think there is nothing more worthwhile than to care for the troops serving our country," Webb said. "They come out of Iraq, not recovered, but stabilized. Someone has to get them from Point A to Point B."

Some of the injured, recently transported from the war zone, will get rehabilitation at a veterans medical center. As the nation pays tribute to its veterans today, an estimated 1,200 active duty troops nationally have been treated at VA medical centers since August 2003. That didn't happen in previous conflicts.

"The goal is to get returning soldiers as close to home as possible," said Jill Manske director of social work services for the Veterans' Health Administration in Washington. "Returning troops might get their acute care at a military hospital, then come to a VA for physical therapy."

As of Oct. 23, about 8,150 troops had been wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most were 30 or younger.

Another 402 have been wounded since 2001 in Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes Afghanistan, Philippines, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere.

"We didn't do a good job for our returning Vietnam veterans. VA Secretary Anthony Principi wants to do things differently this time," Manske said.

The VA and the Pentagon are discussing ways to further this relationship, by opening up medical services at VA centers to active military who are seriously ill or injured no matter where their ailment occurred.

"We want to put our resources where they are needed the most," Manske said.

About 134 people who served in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom have requested services at the Dayton VA Medical Center.

"We have the capability to provide rehabilitation or to care for those individuals," Lawrence Tucker, spokesman for the Dayton VA Medical Center said. "We want to help them have a seamless transition so they don't get caught up in the paperwork of two government agencies."

The VA staff is adjusting to a younger clientele, with more traumatic injuries.

Body armor has changed the type of injury VA medical centers must be prepared to treat. The torso is better protected, but extremities are still vulnerable.

About 152 amputations — caused by injuries in Iraq — have been performed at all U.S. Army hospitals as of Sept. 30, an Army spokesman said.

"We're trying to train our staff, Manske said. ''They're skilled physicians used to dealing with amputees, but not traumatic amputees."

And, these veterans have high expectations for recovery.

"We have to respond to injuries in a different way. These amputees don't want to just be able to walk. They want to run and play basketball. A lot want to remain on active duty."

Returning troops also are asking for mental health services.

"Stress is a perfectly normal reaction to an abnormal situation," Tucker said. "Being under fire is not normal. We're here to help. This group of veterans seems willing to accept that."

Wounded Veteran Works As Advocate For Soldiers (11/11/04)

Wounded Veteran Works As Advocate For Soldiers
B.J. Jackson On Crusade To Aid Wounded Veterans
POSTED: 5:40 PM CST November 11, 2004
UPDATED: 6:50 PM CST November 11, 2004

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Just this week, 18 American soldiers have been killed in the battle for Fallujah. Dozens more have been injured.

About a year after his injury in Iraq, Spc. B.J. Jackson, of Des Moines, is sharing his experiences to help other injured soldiers.

"I've lost my voice," Jackson told KCCI's Eric Hanson. "I've been pretty busy this week."

Jackson has already been in New York, Washington, and Orlando this week, but it's been just as busy in Iraq.

"It's gotta be a tough time for them ... they keep driving on and getting the mission done. It's just wonderful," Jackson said.

Dozens of soldiers in Iraq have been injured and Jackson has become an expert -- and an advocate -- because he's been there.

"You gotta wake up every day and say, 'I love my job. I love what I'm doing. We're making a difference,' and just know the general public here really supports you," Jackson said.

The double-amputee shared his experiences with wounded soldiers and his story with financial supporters.

He's raising money to help injured veterans work through the shock of readjusting to life after the war, and the job is getting bigger every day.

"So, I'm stepping up on behalf of people that want to say, 'We know what you've been through,' and on behalf of the veterans, saying 'I've been there; I've done that,'" Jackson said.

His project will bring together wounded soldiers next month in Florida. If you want to help him, check out his Web site.

By donating frequent flier miles, money or other support, you can help the wounded vet support his fellow soldiers.

Stryker soldier who lost arm in Iraq finds his life plans derailed

Stryker soldier who lost arm in Iraq finds his life plans derailed
Onalaska Family Struggles With Injury

Trevor Phillips attaches an artificial arm while his wife, Christa, looks on. The couple is headed to Chehalis to apply for a Purple Heart license plate that will go on his truck.

Steve Bloom/The Olympian

CHRISTIAN HILL THE OLYMPIAN ONALASKA -- Sgt. Trevor Phillips sacrificed more than his right hand on a May 11 combat patrol in Iraq.
Phillips, 26, a vehicle commander for the Army's first Stryker brigade, lost a clear future for himself and his family.

Phillips planned to join his wife, Christa, and their two young daughters in this Lewis County town after his tour, leave the Army and join the Coast Guard.

Those goals ended when he crested a hill in Mosul and an improvised explosive device detonated 4 feet from him while he was manning a machine gun from his vehicle's roof hatch.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Our heroes’ service and sacrifice (11/11/04)

Our heroes’ service and sacrifice
By Jules Crittenden
Thursday, November 11, 2004

WASHINGTON D.C. - It could be an upscale gym anywhere, full of purposeful activity. The good-natured but harsh ribbing among the men working out is relentless.

``Hey, how long has that guy been here?'' says one kid, who is practicing with his new titanium alloy leg. He is talking about a man who is working his stump on a leg-press machine.

``About five months,'' another man tells him.

``He's been here three months longer than me, and he can't walk yet? I can walk already!'' the first amputee gloats.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

VA seeks prosthetic support for amputees (11/10/04)

Wednesday, November 10
VA seeks prosthetic support for amputees
By Dennis Camire | GNS

WASHNGTON - Erick Castro, who lost his left leg in Iraq to a rocket-propelled grenade, really likes the high-tech artificial leg the military gave him.

But finding a prosthetic technician near his Santa Ana, Calif., home to help keep it working is a problem.

``I tried going with the Veterans Affairs Department but there wasn't much experience there,'' said Castro, who was an Army sergeant riding in an armored personnel carrier in April 2003 when he was hit. ``Instead, the VA actually let me go outside and look for a vendor. Right now, I'm in the process of talking to several of them.''

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Tuesday, November 09, 2004




November 9, 2004 --
Leslie Smith finished the New York City Marathon in 6:33.03, long after Paula Radcliffe and Hendrik Ramaala had won their crowns. But chances are neither will ever have a triumph sweeter than Smith had.

The 35-year-old Army captain crossed the finish line in her hand-crank wheelchair, flanked by the brother who was constantly by her Walter Reed Hospital bedside for five months before and after her amputation, and Mary Bryant, the Achilles Track Club trainer who made her marathon dream a reality.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Friday, November 05, 2004

Tough loss brings out the best in marathoner (11/05/04)

Tough loss brings out the best in marathoner
Friday, November 05, 2004
Star-Ledger Staff
He never drifted into depression. Even as Jose Ramos caught his reflection in the mirror, staring at the stitches in his shattered left arm for the first time, he never dropped his eyes to the floor.

There was something different about this young man. Jennifer Koblinski sensed it the first time she walked into the hospital room, hearing Ramos' plea for Taco Bell. Katie Yancosek saw it the first time this 24-year-old wounded veteran of the war in Iraq bounded into her occupational therapy office at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

[partial text only; follow link for full article]

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Not breaking his stride (11/5/04)

Not breaking his stride
By Estes Thompson
Published November 5, 2004

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Pfc. George Perez still feels the sweat between his toes when he exercises. He's still plagued with cramps in his calf muscle. And sometimes, when he gets out of bed at night without thinking, he topples over. Pfc. Perez, 21, lost his leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq more than a year ago, but despite the phantom pains that haunt him, he says he is determined to prove to the Army that he is no less of a man -- and no less of a soldier.
"I'm not ready to get out yet," he says. "I'm not going to let this little injury stop me from what I want to do."
Pfc. Perez is one of at least four amputees from the elite 82nd Airborne Division to re-enlist. With a new carbon-fiber prosthetic leg, Pfc. Perez intends to show a medical board that he can run an 8-minute mile, jump out of airplanes and pass all the other paratrooper tests that will allow him to go with his regiment to Afghanistan next year.
On Sept. 14, 2003, Pfc. Perez, of Carteret, N.J., and seven other members of his squad were rumbling down a road outside Fallujah when a bomb blast rocked their Humvee. Pfc. Perez recalls flying through the air and hitting the ground hard.
The blast killed one of his comrades. Pfc. Perez felt surprisingly little pain, but when he tried to get up, he couldn't. He saw that his left foot was folded backward onto his knee. His size 121/2 combat boot stood in the dusty road a few feet away, still laced.
A photograph of Pfc. Perez's lonely boot transmitted around the world and spread across two pages of Time magazine became a stark reminder that the war in Iraq was far from over.
Doctors initially tried to save part of his foot. But an infection crept up his leg, and Pfc. Perez agreed to allow the amputation below the knee joint.
"I was going to stay in no matter what," he recalls telling the surgeons. "Do whatever would get me back fastest."
Pfc. Perez was left with a rounded stump that fits into the suction cup of the black carbon-fiber prosthetic leg.
When he arrived at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington for his rehabilitation, Pfc. Perez asked a pair of generals who visited his bedside whether it was possible for him to stay in the Army.
"They told me, 'It's all up to you, how much you want it,' " he says. "If I could do everything like a regular soldier, I could stay in."
He wasted little time getting started. At one point, a visitor found him doing push-ups in bed. He trained himself to walk normally with his new leg, and then to run with it.
Pfc. Perez has to rise at least an hour earlier than his fellow soldiers to allow swelling from the previous day's training to subside enough for his stump to fit into the prosthetic.
But it is a comfort for Pfc. Perez to know that he's not alone.
At least three other paratroopers in the 82nd have lost limbs in combat during the past two years and re-enlisted. One of them, Staff Sgt. Daniel Metzdorf, lost his right leg above the knee in a Jan. 27 blast. He appealed three times before the fitness board allowed him to stay on.
"I think it's a testimony to today's professional Army," says division commander Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell. "I also think, deep down, it is a love for their other paratroopers."
In July, amputee program manager Chuck Scoville of Walter Reed told a congressional committee that amputations accounted for 2.4 percent of all wounded in action in the Iraq war -- twice the rate in World Wars I and II.
Pfc. Perez is one of about 160 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who have passed through Walter Reed's amputee patient program. The military says it does not track the number who choose to stay in the service.
"It isn't something that historically we've had to deal with a whole lot," says Lt. Col. Frank Christopher, the surgeon for the 82nd Airborne.
Today, Pfc. Perez looks every bit the paratrooper -- tall, in ripped-ab shape and serious-looking. His uniform is sharply creased, his maroon beret sits at a precise angle above one eye and the black leather boot on his good leg gleams with a mirror shine. The only thing that sets him apart at a glance is the white running shoe on his prosthetic leg.
Pfc. Perez has to go before another medical fitness board to determine whether he will be allowed to jump again. He also must pass the fitness test for his age -- run two miles in less than 16 minutes and do at least 42 push-ups and 53 sit-ups in two-minute stretches.
For now, he must be content with a job maintaining M-16s and M-4s, machine guns and grenade launchers in his company's armory. But his dream is to attend the grueling Army Ranger school at Fort Benning, Ga., a serious challenge to even the most able-bodied soldier.
"I got a lot of things to do," he said. "I want to do as much as I can, as much as they'll let me."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

LIFE OR LIMB | Afghan land mine took Mike McNaughton's leg, left will to win (11/3/04)

LIFE OR LIMB | Afghan land mine took Mike McNaughton's leg, left will to win
Ed Graney
1064 Words
03 November 2004
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Copyright (c) 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.
They say when you step on a land mine, the first thing you notice after a deafening blast is the smell of burnt flesh. Then comes intense pain and extreme thirst. The earth has opened beneath you and your body has been dropped with a violent thud, but the smart thing is not to look at the injured area, at the place where your foot or leg used to be, at the gushing blood and exposed bone.

[partial text only]

Monday, November 01, 2004

Under Fire (11/1/04)

Under Fire
Haunted by Memories of War, A Soldier Battles The Army
By Lynne Duke
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 1, 2004; Page C01

"Satchel bomb!"

His shout shatters the night. The lieutenant is fighting, barking orders. He hollers and grunts. On the sofa at a friend's house, 1st Lt. Jullian Philip Goodrum, U.S. Army Reserve, wrestles and thrashes, fighting a war as he sleeps.

Pam McGill can hear him. She bolts upright in bed in her Knoxville, Tenn., home and rushes to the living room.

They've been friends for 20 years. Goodrum used to sing in her youth choir at a local Baptist church back in Powell, their Tennessee home town. Goodrum, 34, had only brothers. So McGill became a big sister. And on his return from service in Iraq last summer, his old friend became an angel of mercy.

"It was like he was under fire or something," McGill, 43, recalls of those awful nightmares.

She remembers him shouting "Clear!" and words she could not understand.

"He was talking about somebody dropping a bomb off a bridge and he was trying to keep his men safe."

Other times, on other nights that Goodrum himself describes, he'd relive those bleak seconds aboard the USS Missouri when he was in the Navy during the Persian Gulf War and an Iraqi missile drew a bead on his ship.

"Brace for shock," a voice bellowed over the ship's PA. Then the countdown to impact. "Sixty yards. Fifty yards. Forty yards . . ."

Goodrum, a gunner's mate, bowed his head, expecting to die. "Dear God, forgive my sins. Please watch over my mother and my brothers."

A nearby British vessel saved the day, shooting the missile down 30 yards from the Missouri. Goodrum still sees the huge explosion, its yellow light, in his dreams. He cannot shake that image, or the seconds he thought were his last.

The strain and fear stalked him through one war, through the years that followed, then into a second war. Each dangerous convoy in Iraq -- "suicide missions," the troops called them, because they were so poorly equipped -- fueled his secret panic, his fear that one of his soldiers would die. And then one of his men did die.

His stress became a beast that grew and grew -- especially after he was turned away from an Army medical clinic last fall when he sought help in the midst of a mental collapse. The beast just overwhelmed him, just mauled him as he slept.

"Phil, you're here, you're safe, wake up." McGill would coax him back from his hell. She'd hold him tight, to stop his thrashing. He would awaken; he would quiet. But there was no calm.

"He would just go into that little trance again. Shaking. His hands would shake tremendously."

Goodrum's green Class A uniform is crisp, his dress shoes shiny, his black beret properly tilted. Four rows of ribbons rest above the pocket of his pressed shirt.

They tell a soldier's story: U.S. Navy seaman, turned Tennessee National Guardsman, turned U.S. Army reservist, activated for duty in Iraq. He is a straight-back, yes-ma'am, no-sir kind of guy, church raised, proper, gung-ho.

He walks with soldierly precision through the mist that shrouds Walter Reed Army Medical Center on a morning rendered surreal because of what lies ahead. On this October day, he will fight his other war -- his war with the U.S. Army.

He is sweating, already, even before he climbs the columned steps that lead to the offices of the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps. Prosecutors there are waiting for him. They want him out of the military that he has loved so well.

He pops the first of a series of anti-anxiety pills prescribed to stanch the panic attacks. The meds will hold him steady through a day on which his life may depend. By day's end, he will have taken double the dosage recommended as part of his regimen of medications for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

An Army survey, completed last December, found that 17 percent of soldiers and Marines who'd returned from duty in Iraq reported symptoms of major depression, anxiety or PTSD. The number is expected to go higher with time, as more soldiers return from duty in this conventional war that has become a harsh counterinsurgency campaign. And Matthew J. Friedman, executive director of the National Center for PTSD, predicts that many more PTSD cases will go unreported; the Army survey also found that soldiers still are intensely reluctant to divulge their symptoms because of fear of being stigmatized as weak.

"I'd rather be an amputee than a psychological patient," Goodrum says one day. He knows the stigma he symbolizes.

At Walter Reed, where he has lived since February, he is surrounded by soldiers missing arms and legs. When you've lost a limb, people can clearly see what's wrong with you, what happened to you, he says. When you're injured psychologically, people can't see it. They see a physically healthy person and wonder what the heck could be wrong.

Goodrum wonders too.

"How did my mind become weak, you know? I've been in 16 years. I've trained. I made top of my class."

He's been in the military since 1989. It seemed his only option after graduation from a small-town high school. He ran track, wrestled, played football and led the student council. But his grades were just okay, not good enough to qualify for the college scholarships he'd counted on.

He earned his college degree nonetheless, studying aboard the Missouri (when not in action), then finishing up at the University of Tennessee with a degree in history.

He studied what we now call the "greatest generation." And Lt. Gen. Lewis "Chesty" Puller, the legendary U.S. Marine commander at Guadalcanal during World War II, was his icon.

"I've read his book several times," says Goodrum, whose childhood stutter occasionally trips up his speech. "He was a soldier's soldier."

And that's what Goodrum modeled himself on: being a leader who took care of his troops. Even in the midst of his troubles last fall, he still wanted to return to Iraq, he says. Goodrum's military records show glowing performance reviews and character references.

"My most pleasure was when I led soldiers," he said recently, a wistful look in his eye as he pulled incessantly at a glob of putty his therapist gave him to help calm his nerves.

"I just love soldiering."

Proper Procedure

His career seems just about over. Goodrum's chronic PTSD, diagnosed by both Army and civilian psychiatrists, will likely render him unable to continue in the service. An Army medical board ruling on his future service is pending.

And there's a court-martial looming, too. The same Army that is treating Goodrum for PTSD also is prosecuting him because he did not request the appropriate military leave before checking himself into a civilian psychiatric hospital last fall, during a mental breakdown.

For that, he's been charged as AWOL -- absent without leave -- even though he was turned away from medical care at Fort Knox, Ky., his base, on the day of his breakdown, according to testimony in his case.

Military prosecutors say his case is about accountability. Period. He did not follow procedure, and there are consequences.

"This case is not about equipment problems [in Iraq]. This case is not about having radios [in convoys]. This case is not about PTSD," Capt. Natricia Wright, the JAG's lead prosecutor on the case, said in her closing argument last week. "This case is about accountability."

Goodrum's civilian defense lawyer argued that PTSD was at the very core of the case.

"He's been injured," said Matthew J. MacLean, of Shaw Pittman. "He's been injured just as surely as if he'd been shot."

Goodrum himself believes that retaliation has fueled the case. He had complained on several occasions about poor command decisions in Iraq by his captain, Randall "Burt" Fisher, of the 212th Transportation Company. And he'd also been quoted in an Oct. 29, 2003, United Press International article complaining that he'd been "treated like dirt" while awaiting medical treatment at Fort Knox.

He believes he has been branded a whistle-blower -- and punished. In addition to the AWOL charge, he's been charged for alleged fraternization with a female sergeant, which he denies. Fisher, the captain, was the driving force behind the fraternization charge. Fisher testified that rumors about Goodrum's behavior had caused low morale in the unit. First Lt. Jason Eisele testified that Fisher intensely disliked Goodrum and coerced witnesses into giving statements against Goodrum to bolster the fraternization case.

Army officials would not comment beyond what they said in the hearing.

Goodrum could be imprisoned for up to six years. He could be dismissed from the military. For an officer, dismissal is the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge, which means he could be disqualified from the federal job he held in civilian life. If dismissed, he would lose his military medical benefits, too, and would be ineligible for care under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Basically, everything is on the line for Lieutenant Goodrum," says MacLean.

In his Class A's last week, Goodrum sat sweating during the legal to-and-fro in a small Walter Reed conference room crammed with lawyers and a few supporters. He's facing an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, except that only one person will rule on the case. An investigating officer (in this case, Lt. Col. Michael Amaral of the Army Medical Service Corps)will forward a recommendation up the chain of command on whether Goodrum should be court-martialed.

The Darkest Point

Brakes screech behind him. They are loud, very loud -- loud enough to snap him out of it, to bring him back to reality. In his rearview mirror, he sees a tractor-trailer bearing down on his Honda Civic, its driver trying desperately not to slam into him.

He's on an interstate near Fort Knox. His speedometer reads 5 mph. He guns it and swerves out of the truck's path.

He doesn't know how he got on the interstate. He doesn't remember driving there. But he remembers what happened earlier in the day, on base, at Fort Knox. He begins to cry. For hours, he can't stop.

He drives home, to Knoxville, to his mother. She calls McGill, the old friend, who also is a trained EMT and cardiac technician. The next morning, the two women take Goodrum to St. Mary's Medical Center, where he will be admitted to the psychiatric ward. Goodrum is practically blithering.

"He was just not functional. He could not make a complete sentence," says McGill. "His eyes were fixed. . . . He was just, like, in a stare. It was like he couldn't make contact with you.

"He just kept saying 'I need help. I need help. They won't help me. They won't help me.' And I'm going, 'Phil, we're gonna help you, we're gonna help you.' "

It was Nov. 7, 2003 -- the day Fort Knox denied him treatment, the day he went AWOL and entertained thoughts of his own death.

He'd been pressing closer and closer to this moment for months, with each accumulated stress, each life-or-death situation, each episode of conflict with his superiors.

Actually, his problem went back several years. Walter Reed's chief of inpatient psychiatric services, Col. Theodore Nam, testified during the Article 32 hearing that Goodrum's PTSD probably began with the Gulf War. His USS Missouri nightmares, which began only recently, are evidence of what has been embedded in his psyche.

But when he was activated for deployment in the Iraq War, Goodrum did not consider himself stressed. He did not consider himself impaired. He was, in fact, eager to serve. He'd been qualified as a logistics officer, an ordnance officer, and had completed a support operations course. He was ready.

Attached to the 212th Transportation Company, Goodrum went to war in April 2003. As a lieutenant, he was a platoon leader. His troops drove huge rigs called palletized loading systems, or PLSs, which can haul 33 tons.

But things went south fast. He believed the support troops were being put in danger by poor command decisions involving supplies and equipment. He began filing complaints with the Army inspector general about troop preparedness, a move he feels sowed the seeds for retaliation.

Goodrum says he complained because he feared that "somebody was gonna get killed."

As he describes his many filed complaints, one wonders: Is this man a chronic malcontent? MacLean, during the hearing, described his client as a man "fixated" on details.

"Details save lives," Goodrum says in one of many interviews. "The Army is based on several foundations, but one of them is attention to detail. Maybe I've taken it to extremes, but I've been put in some extreme situations.

"Yes, I'm a complainer when my soldiers' welfare is at stake and they're put in harm's way unnecessarily and they're sent out on missions without the correct equipment. So yes, if that would make me a complainer, then yes."

This is what he means: He and his men were forced to run supply convoys with no proper maps (only crude hand-drawn renderings); no radios (only the PLS's digital messaging systems); no heavy weapons (only their individual M-16s); no intelligence on the regions in which they'd be traveling; no armor to protect the two-person cabs of their trucks.

One soldier ripped a couple of manhole covers from an Iraqi street and welded them to his PLS cab doors for extra protection, Goodrum recalls. And Goodrum ordered the troops to pile sandbags on their PLS floorboards to absorb blasts.

Convoys routinely came under small weapons or rocket fire. And they routinely got lost. Goodrum remembers harrowing encounters that plunged him into bouts of private panic.

He'd talk himself out of them by repeating his mantra: "Command and control. I got to keep command and control. Command my soldiers, implement plans and control the situation and get the hell out of here."

Once he was a breath away from killing or being killed. A wrong turn left his convoy looking for a place to turn around. Goodrum and two other soldiers got out of their Humvee and stopped local traffic so the PLSs could move.

He noticed several men in a white car, from which an AK-47 was pointed right at him, The car was two feet away. He too had his M-16 ready to fire. He just stood there, eyes trained on the gunman's fingers, which weren't near the trigger. One slight movement of the trigger finger, and Goodrum would have blasted him. After a couple of minutes, the car moved on.

And so it went -- the threat of death lurking all around, he says, "360 degrees, 24 hours a day."

One day he dropped his M-16. In fact, he dropped everything. Suddenly, he could not grasp objects. Army doctors weren't sure what was wrong. But clearly he could not remain in Iraq. In July, three months into his deployment, Goodrum was medevaced home.

He would need surgery. The diagnosis was bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. But there was a tangle of Army red tape to navigate, between two separate military bases -- Camp Atterbury, Ind., his mobilization site, and Fort Knox, where the region's Medical Hold Company was based -- and between various commanders.

Then, in August, he got word. Back in Iraq, Sgt. Kenneth Harris, 23, a much-loved member of the 212th, had been killed in a PLS accident. The truck in which Harris was riding broke down several times on a convoy. In trying to catch up, the driver somehow crashed into the back of another PLS. Harris was sheared in half, and his death was so traumatic to his fellow soldiers on the convoy that seven went to counseling, says Staff Sgt. Reginal Coleman, a passenger in the vehicle that was struck.

Goodrum had been especially fond of Harris. He viewed him as a natural leader who would rise in the military hierarchy. Goodrum felt he'd been kicked in the gut. And he felt that someone must be held responsible.

He filed another complaint -- once he learned details of the accident -- about the preparedness of the 212th and its command.

"And it saddened me because I knew it was coming and I had done everything in my power to prevent a death," Goodrum says.

Hold in Abeyance

Back at Fort Knox that September, Goodrum had surgery on his left hand. But he had to wait weeks to begin physical therapy. And weeks more passed before he could iron out the red tape for surgery on his right hand.

Conditions for soldiers on medical hold at Fort Knox and elsewhere were poor. There were too few doctors. Soldiers faced lengthy waits for processing and treatment. Many soldiers were sent to civilian physicians. And the base accommodations often were poor. Congress ultimately would investigate and recommend changes.

Goodrum filed more official complaints. And he made his "treated like dirt" comment to UPI. It made him a bit infamous on base. He felt it put a bull's-eye on his back.

Goodrum's treatment situation was becoming even more maddening. Suddenly, there were confusing complications in his quest to get surgery for his right hand. On Oct. 29, oddly, he was dropped from "medical hold" at Fort Knox, though he still needed care.

On Nov. 5, at a base clinic, he says, snide comments were made to his face about his outspokenness in the press. He claims a clinic attendant told him he would not be getting his second surgery.

He was so angry, so unnerved, he began to cry. He called a medical case manager. He called a commander he knew. He received assurances that of course he would receive his surgery.

So on Nov. 7, he reported to the Fort Knox hospital to begin the process. He would have to be readmitted to medical hold. And he also asked for help with the emotionalism and anxiety that seemed to keep overwhelming him. He wouldn't get very far.

Lt. Col. Ronald Stevens, then the deputy chief of clinical services at Fort Knox, had been checking up on Goodrum. Stevens had looked at Goodrum's records after the UPI article, Stevens testified at the Article 32 hearing. Stevens thought Goodrum had exaggerated. The UPI article, said Stevens, contained "untruths."

In his testimony, Stevens claimed he wanted to meet Goodrum. He had instructed medical staff to not readmit Goodrum into the medical hold company, but to send him to see Stevens instead.

The physician's assistant who handled Goodrum that day testified that he remembered few details about the encounter. What Goodrum remembers is this: being told that Stevens did not want him to be treated. And a note on a page of Goodrum's records from Ireland Army Community Hospital at Fort Knox reads, "Colonel Stevens do not [sic] want this pt. to be in med. hold."

Goodrum was sent away. He was, in effect, denied treatment.

"I acknowledge that my direction was misunderstood," Stevens testified at the hearing. "I acknowledge that he was turned away."

MacLean, Goodrum's lawyer, shot back, "I guess now he [Goodrum] knows that being treated like dirt is better than not being treated at all."

Every Day a New Trial

"Getting up is the hardest part." Just getting out of bed each morning is a challenge.

"If you get up, brush your teeth and get dressed, you're on a roll." Goodrum chuckles. Not because it's funny, but because he remembers how hard it was for him, a few months ago, just to greet the day.

He's been living at Walter Reed since Feb. 9 -- first on the psychiatric ward, then as a psychiatric outpatient housed in a dormitory-style room in Mologne House on the Walter Reed grounds.

Vijay Jethanandani, Goodrum's civilian psychiatrist from St. Mary's in Knoxville, treated him as long as he could. But by the end of last year, when Goodrum's medical benefits had been cut off because of his AWOL status, Goodrum began to consider other options.

He felt he could not return to Fort Knox. Jethanandani agreed. They decided Goodrum should present himself to a different Army medical facility for help, and Walter Reed emerged as the right choice. Jethanandani wrote a letter for Goodrum to carry with him, explaining his condition, his medications, and urging Walter Reed not to send him back to Fort Knox.

McGill drove him to the District. He arrived at the Walter Reed hospital emergency room, in full Class A dress, and presented himself as a sick, AWOL soldier in need of help.

As is normal for newly admitted psychiatric patients, Goodrum was confined to Walter Reed's psychiatric ward, Ward 54 -- a secure ward where patients aren't free to come and go. Goodrum progressed well on that ward. On Feb. 19, he was scheduled to be moved to the less secure Ward 53, according to his patient records.

But Stevens's intervention was not over. On Feb. 18, Stevens spoke to Walter Reed officials, according to testimony both from Stevens and from Nam, as well as Goodrum's patient records. It is not clear what Stevens told Walter Reed's doctors that they did not already know. After Stevens's intervention, Nam's staff decided not to move Goodrum.

He was held an additional two weeks on Ward 54, colloquially called the lockdown ward, due to what doctors variously called "legal/admin concerns" or "recent admin developments," the records show. Nam, in his testimony, also explained the prolonged Ward 54 stay in terms of the alternatives: Goodrum's AWOL status could even have landed him in jail, or gotten him hauled back to Fort Knox.

Normally, though, Ward 54 would be used for patients considered a threat to themselves or others. Goodrum, according to his records, was considered neither.

On March 2, after the UPI reported on Goodrum's confinement, he finally was released from Ward 54 and moved to 53 as originally planned. Then, he was downgraded further, to outpatient status, living on his own at Mologne House while continuing therapy.

Life, now, is waiting. He goes to counseling both at Walter Reed and at a Veterans Administration Center in Silver Spring. In counseling, he returns again and again to Sgt. Harris, to the circumstances of his death.

He spends lots of time with Steve Robinson, executive director of the Silver Spring-based National Gulf War Resource Center, who has become his close friend and advocate. It's not just Robinson who helps him, but Robinson's bulldog Bluto. Goodrum loves dogs, and is away from his own back home.

Most days, Goodrum tries to just fly "under the radar," as he puts it, trying to stay away from the "stressors" that can set off his panic, his flashbacks, his racing thoughts. He's on several medications, still.

Movie theaters are a good place to hide, he's found. In two months, he's seen 20 films. It's best to go to early matinees on the weekdays, when there are no crowds, no jostling.

He tries to avoid loud people, loud noises. Horns, shouts, a slamming door all can take his breath away, cause his head to race. Driving in Washington is harrowing; people here love to honk, he says.

But riding the bus is problematic, since the smell of diesel triggers flashbacks to the convoys in Iraqi, to his fear on the "suicide missions."

And both the bus and the subway present a special problem. The hands. He's got to see them. He's got to feel assured that no one's carrying a weapon. He's got to know there is no finger on the trigger.

In his room at Mologne, he is lonely but relatively safe. Before bed, he says, "I search my room for bugs." He does not mean insects.

"I'm paranoid, but I have good reason," he says.

News on his possible court-martial could come any day.