27 December 2009

Thank you, S!

This Christmas, special thanks go out to S, who is spending the season far far from home. He is serving in the Middle East as a Medic, keeping people alive. S has served for years, in and out of military life. One of his jobs is an anesthetist, and years ago when I was a wet behind the ears intern, I learned the rules of keeping a patient alive through an operation by watching him. Whenever I saw he was in my OR, I knew it would be smooth sailing. Our troops are getting the best of the best out there.

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you, wherever you are!


23 December 2009

My friend is awesome! 21/365


Today I want to tell you about my friend M. who has found a very selfless and vital way to help the troops.

M. is a Clinical Psychologist, and he has had a civilian practice for years. We recently found out he decided to take his family to Germany and work as a civilian contractor for the military. He will be providing his expertise and pyschological counseling skills to those in the military in need of help. His abilities will be very welcome and will help so many who are going through the worst crisis they will ever face in their lives. When I went to Iraq, I went because that was the destination written on my deployment orders. I can't say I would have gone of my own volition. That is why I am so impressed with M. and so proud to be his friend.

Best of luck, M., and thank you so much to you and your family!

10 December 2009


I wanted to share with you a review my book recieved in the New York Times Health page:


Thank you so much Pauline!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

01 December 2009

Santa at PrimeLending in San Antonio!

For friends in San Antonio,

Passing along an event:

PrimeLending in North San Antonio is sponsoring a charity event to benefit the Fisher Houses at BAMC and invites you and your kids to see Santa.

Invitation and details are attached. We hope to see you soon!

If we don’t see you then, enjoy your Holidays and have a Happy New Year!
Minimum Donation $10
THU 10 DEC 1630-1830
270 N. Loop 1604 E. Ste. 310
San Antonio, TX 78232

29 November 2009

Online Interview, tomorrow 30 NOV

Tomorrow I'll be interviewed online with War Child, from their Canada office.

The interview will start at 7pm EST.

Read about it here:


25 November 2009

Take 10 sec: with Let's say Thanks 20/365

Take 10 seconds to visit Xerox and fill out a card to be sent to a soldier in Iraq.

Visit this site:


Pick out your card, write a short message, and Xerox will do the rest.

Take care!


23 November 2009

19/ 365 Holiday Mail for Heroes from the Red Cross

Time Sensitive!!

You have to send in your holiday greetings to the troops by 7 DEC!!!

Once again, the Red Cross is mobilizing to send cards to the troops. Here is the information page:


Copied from the website, here is how it works:

(begin quote)

Holiday Mail for Heroes
Proudly Supported by Pitney Bowes

Holiday Mail for Heroes is back!

In this season of hope and giving the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes, Inc. have joined forces to invite Americans to “send a touch of home” to United States service members and veterans across the country and abroad. In its third year, the Holiday Mail for Heroes program is an opportunity to share joy and thanks with our service members throughout the holiday season by way of a greeting card.
Today over 1.4 million men and women serve in the U.S. armed forces and over 24 million veterans have served in the past. The holiday season is the perfect time to honor and extend a warm holiday greeting to those who’ve served and continue to do so.

How Holiday Mail works

We have established an extensive process to ensure all cards sent to our service members are safe and arrive in time for the holidays. Holiday cards will be collected through a unique P.O. Box address from Monday, November 2 through Monday, December 7*.

First, cards from across the nation must be sent to this address:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Please don’t forget to follow these guidelines while preparing your holiday greetings!


Sign all cards
Entitle cards “Dear Service Member, Family or Veteran”
Limit cards to 15 per person or 50 for school class or business group
Bundle groups of cards in single, large envelopes (there is no need to include individual envelopes and postage for cards)


Send letters
Include personal information such as home or email addresses
Use glitter – excessive amounts can aggravate health issues of wounded recipients
Include inserts of any kind as they must be removed in the screening process

NPR interview transcript/recording

Thank you for all the great comments I got about the interview between me and Liane Hansen on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.

(Either people are being nice, or they didn't notice that I talk a mile a minute and say "um" a lot!)

If you haven't heard it, you can read transcript and hear the recording here:


Have fun and love life!


21 November 2009

Interview on NPR tomorrow (SUN)!

Tomorrow, on NPR's Weekend Edition, Sunday, Liane Hansen is airing our interview at 0920 AM! I'm very excited to hear how it turned out. I visited the studio to sit down with her and it was a great experience. However, I felt like an idiot because I didn't tell her how to pronounce my name and she had to re-record all the questions when I finally did.

Hope you enjoy it!


14 November 2009

19/365 Bring a troop home for Thanksgiving: your home

When Meredith and I were in San Antonio, we knew we were living a few miles from the site where all the new Airmen were going through basic training. For those who did the 8 week course over November, they might be missing Thanksgiving with their family for the first time. Most of them are very young.

The base organized a program where local families could welcome basic trainees into their home for a Thanksgiving dinner. The two young women who came home with us were very quiet and respectful the whole time we had them over. They seemed so young, like the kids just out of high school that they were.

Their needs were simple. They just wanted to be allowed to sit down for a few hours without someone yelling at them! They loved a chance to sit back and watch TV in peace. They both had people they wanted to call so one got the home phone, one got the cell phone and they got in touch with family and friends.

They left with bellies full and seemed relaxed. It had been so easy to have them over, and Meredith and I really felt like we had given them a treat.

If you live near San Antonio, you could invite a troop for Thanksgiving. There is information here:


or call 671-5453, 671-5454 or 671-3701 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I know this program is run in many cities where there is a large base. If you live near one, check it out!

Voting supports the troops 18/365

This blog post is to tell you a simple, but very important way we can support troops.


The vote is one of our most precious rights. Soldiers have fought for us to preserve this right ever since there was a US constitution to defend. By voting, we are acknowledging the value of this gift.

Also, when picking your candidate, pay attention to how they have treated the troops in the past, and how they intend to support them. It's a good way to see who has their priorities straight. It matters to me when I know that a candidate has served themselves or has children who are serving. I know that they will have a personal experience to ground them as the consider whether it is really truly necessary to put those brave lives on the line.

I know voting has just passed this year, but as long as America is here, it will be coming around again! So honor veterans' sacrifice by voting.

12 November 2009

Delayed Veteran's day wishes, and a book!

Well, it's midnight on the 12th, and I'm finally getting a chance to write.

It has been a string of busy days that have had me operating past 10pm. Today, I attended a day-long seminar entitled "The Geisinger Experience" so I have had a week full of both theory and practice!

Thank you to all the kind friends who wished me a happy Veteran's Day. I would like to echo those sentiments and express the admiration and appreciation my family and I have for veterans past and present.

I want to call attention to one veteran in particular. Dr. Harriet Hall is a retired Air Force physician:


She was the second woman ever to have an Air Force residency. Her long military career spanned many stations across the globe. She worked as a flight surgeon and as a family practitioner. She broke barriers and paved the way for doctors like me and my colleagues.

You can read about her experiences in her book:

Women Aren't Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon

It is available here on Amazon:


09 November 2009

How many would they have saved?

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Grant Cahill (Ret.) was both a RN and a PA at Ft. Hood, also father of three and grandfather of one.
Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo was a father and a psychologist who helped prisoners and was deploying with a combat stress unit.
Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow was deploying to Iraq, and was a father of a 13-yr-old girl.
Capt. John Gaffaney was a pyschiatric nurse who helped elderly victims of abuse and a father.
Spc. Frederick Greene was assigned to the 20th Engineer Batallion at Fort Hood and was a computer whiz who could also build a truss.
Spc. Jason Dean Hunt was preparing for his second deployment to Iraq and had just gotten married.
Sgt. Amy Krueger joined up after 9/11 and was deploying to Afghanistan. She was a strong high school athlete.
Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka was the youngest of four children and followed a family tradition of service as he deployed to Afghanistan.
Pfc. Michael Pearson was a skilled guitarist who had trained to deactivate IED’s on his upcoming deployment.
Capt. Russell Seager was a VA nurse who helped soldiers with PTST and a father who was deploying to Iraq.
Pvt. Francheska Velez was an Iraq veteral who was three months pregnant.
Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman was a physician’s assistant who was mother to two and grandmother to six.
Spc. Kham Xiong was deploying to Afghanistan and a father of three.

06 November 2009

Helping the troops and families at Ft. Hood

If you are in the South/Central TX area, you can help the injured troops and civilians from Ft. Hood by donating blood and platelets.

here are some locations where you can donate:

Scott and White Hospital:


The Akeroyd Blood Donor Center at Ft. Sam Houston is open Monday through Friday 7:30 - 2:00 p.m. for walk-ins.Appointments are also available during duty hours. Blood drives can be scheduled on the weekend with prior approval.
Please call 210-295-4655 to make an appointment or schedule a group or unit blood drive.
They will take civilian donors as well.

The South Texas Blood and Tissue Center is also doing their part to help with the wounded. The organization has sent 10 units of blood to Scott & White Hospital in Temple along with 6 units to the Austin Blood Center.
Currently, the community supply is in need of platelet donations. Call STBTC to schedule an appointment at 731-5590.

Also, I'd like to spread the word about one place where citizens can donate. Here is an email, reprinted in full, that Mike with Take a Soldier Fishing sent me:

(begin quote)

Hello everyone. Some of you may get this email a couple of times due to the way that my Outlook is set up, please forgive me. Our operations are based next to Ft Hood and this tragedy hits very close to home. For anyone that has a passion for the military men and women this type of thing hits hard. Especially if you know someone that is stationed here. I am sending out this email as a way that you can make a specific difference in the lives of the victims of this shooting. We are asking for monetary donations to directly help the families that are affected. There are a number of organizations that are showing support and we all know that the holidays are coming soon. Some of these families will be without someone, making it even more difficult. Children will need gifts, turkey dinners, Christmas dinners and so on. You get the picture. If anyone of you know who I am, you know that I hate the need to be RE-active VS. being PRO-active but here we are as the picture unfolds before us. The fact of the matter is there are families that now have someone missing and they need our support. Forget the media for now and they why and the how come and let's band together and make a difference. Together we can make a difference in these soldiers and families life. They were brought to the war front prematurely and without being armed and no one ever says that is bound to happen...but it did. Now is the time to be reactive and help who we can right now and let our soldiers overseas know that America is still behind them no matter where they are.
Please pass this email around to all of your friends and to their friends and so on. Please donate to help this effort so that we can help these families. This is what we are about -- SOLDIERS HELPING SOLDIERS --
Please keep these soldiers and their families in your heart and prayers.
We will be accepting donations to support the families in the aftermath to help them pick up the pieces and help them move forward. When making a donation please annotate "FT HOOD" on the donation.
For PayPal or Credit Card you can go here:
If mailing a check please make the check out to:
Combat Warrior Crisis Network
3450 FM 1829
Gatesville, Tx 76528
Together we can make a difference!
Mike Nashif

Mike Nashif - President
Combat Warrior Crisis Network
Freedom Isn't Free!

(end quote)

05 November 2009


To the families of the fallen and wounded at Ft. Hood,

I send you condolences and and good wishes from me and my family. This is not fair. You deserved better. You willingly chose to serve our country and protect all of us. You brave heroes didn't deserve a traitor's bullet.

As a doctor and a veteran I am outraged and disgusted at the murderous actions of the shooter. No trauma or ideology could justify your betrayal of office and medical profession. You have shamed us all.

America survives this, but we carry the sorrow.

new guidelines for wear of PTU

The Air Force has released new guidelines for the wear of the physical training uniform. (PTU)

If you can't think of any reason to thank a troop, read this small sampling of the daily life of an airman:


Thank you very much!

02 November 2009

16/365 Save a veteran's life

Veteran deaths due to suicide have surpassed combat deaths in OIF.

An estimated 18 of the 25 million US veterans commits suicide every day.


This is over 5000 suicides each year.

Ask the hard questions.

Look out for your wingman. Look out for your family.

Call if you or someone you love needs help.

National Suicide Prevention hotline: (800)-273-TALK (8255).

Connect with people who understand what you are going through at Not Alone:


See videos based on troops lost to suicide, learn the signs at Wingman Project


They've been heroes for us, be a hero for them.

01 November 2009

Memorial Medical Center after Katrina, Revisited

(The Helipad of Memorial Medical Center, the last point of departure for critically ill patients during evacuation. Source: NYT)

I'm writing a presentation on Disaster Planning. Since I've last addressed this topic, Dr. Sheri Fink has written an incredible account of the difficult choices faced by the doctors and nurses of Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina stranded the staff and patients without power, supplies, or easy exit.

The article is 18 pages long, but with numerous first-person accounts, it is the most revealing study on the topic I have read.


Dr. Fink has also written "War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival"


#15 Valour-IT Hi Tech for injured troops

(graphic from www.coxandforkum.com / soldiers' angels )

Now I've already mentioned Soldiers' Angels in #1, but get on over there to check out their program: VALOUR-IT

Soldiers'Angels is running an auction and fundraiser to help donate information technology aids to injured troops:

- voice controlled laptops for troops who have lost use of hands

- personalized gps to help troops with traumatic brain injury and memory loss make it to the places they go every day

- here's a cool one: Wii platform games for whole body video-game modelled rehab and PT

a note on the last one: it works! at the hospital in Balad, we had a Wii game set up on the ward, and we would use it for both troops and Iraqi patients as they recovered use of their bodies after injuries. It was great to have it out in the open where all the patients could see who was working out: their curiosity always got the better of them and we were able to convince the more hesitant patients to get their butts out of bed and start to claw their way back to health.

Our Iraq translators got pretty good at the games and it was darn near impossible to beat them at Wii bowling.

Last but not least, here is a blog you have to check out:

Kathi is a true dedicated patriot and lifelong supporter of our troops. I was fascinated as I read about all of the communities she is involved in to help show the troops that we back at home remember them.

Take care!


31 October 2009

Airman Medic: We are Proud of you!

(Photo Source D.L. USAF)

Senior Airman Ashley Jackson is an Air Force Medic in the fight in Afghanistan. Note the trauma shears hanging ready for action!

Read here about how she treated members of her squad when their MRAP came under IED attack.

I feel lucky and proud to have such fine young people out there as the face of Air Force Medical care.

29 October 2009

14/365 Give a gift membership to the American Legion

The American Legion is a great organization for veterans. The provide community service, help with local and youth programs, and offer a friendly relaxed place for veterans to gather.

For me, the most rewarding part of being a member is to be able to rub shoulders with veterans from previous wars. It's a great benefit to be able to kick back with them, have a beer, and hear their stories.

If there is a veteran in your life who is not a member, consider the unique and generous gesture of giving them a gift membership. Here is a video from the national commandant explaining the program:


There are even opportunities for non-veterans to participate in the Legion Auxiliary.

Take care!


11 NOV Veterans eat free at Applebees

This is advertising I'm happy to pass along:

Applebees restaurants will serve Active Duty Military and Veterans Free from a selected menu on Veteran's Day, 11 NOV 2009.

Details here:


28 October 2009

Thank you Capt. Rob Yllescas

Thank you Capt. Rob Yllescas. You are not forgotton.

Thank you Dena, your strength and bravery are inspiring.


For the Troops (13/365) Donate frequent flier miles

I don't know about you all, but I get that periodic letter from the frequent flier miles program telling me to buy magazines or lose my miles. I usually lose them

Here's something better to do with miles: Donate them to troops' families.

There are many organizations accepting miles, but one of the easiest ways is to donate them through Fisher House:


Visit their Hero Miles Program Here:


Through the generous donations of many individual Americans, they have been able to give more than 18,000 tickets worth $25 million to troops' families. Many times the trips they take are from home to a military treatment facility to visit a spouse undergoing treatment for wounds received in combat. Helping families when they need us is a way to thank them for the sacrifices they have made for us.

27 October 2009

12/365 Give a soldier a vacation!

I've come across several organizations that offer free vacations to troops returning home from deployment. Each of these organizations is usually the effort of a small number of individuals or merchants, each donating time in their own vacation home, or a gift certificate for vacation and travel related services.

This is a great way to help troops and their families one at a time. If you have a vacation home, offer up a free week to a troop. They are very responsible, and are used to moving in and out smoothly. As an individual family, you could contact a military base or hospital near your home. Check in your area, there may already be a cooperative that is organizing vacation donation to troops.

If you have the organizational skills, draw together other families or hotels/Inns that would offer free vacations to troops. Try to get local merchants and restaurants involved for vacation activities. If you have a time share and wont be using it, offer it up at a local base. You could get help on the base from the MWR (Morale Welfare Recreation) office or the Family Support Office.

Deployment actually costs a lot of money. There are lost wages, the need for child care, phone bills, the little travel items that aren't covered, and repairs and maintenance that have to be hired out when the troop (or troops in some double military member families!) so there isn't often money left over for vacation. It would mean a lot to a military family to have a spot to celebrate their reunion.

26 October 2009

11/365 Donate a cell phone for the troops

Both times I deployed, I took my satellite phone. It was a big fat brick of a phone, it looked a little like the old briefcase phones, like the drug dealers were using in the movie "New Jack City". I picked it up on ebay, it didn't hold a charge well, and the recharger was a chunky plug that was wired for European outlets. The sandstorms and helicopters would mess up reception, and I needed a direct view of the sky to use it. Still, that phone served me well and I actually completed 1/3 of my MBA from Iraq by teleconferencing with my study group, sitting out on top of the bunkers on moonless nights. Best of all, when times were tough and I was low, I knew I could reach out to Meredith and there was no better way to recharge my spirit.

A great way to give a troop a boost is to donate a cell phone. Nothing is more of a comfort than a few minutes talking with a loved one. It can break up a 36 hr journey and transport me home for a precious moment.

Everyone has an outdated cell phone in a desk drawer somewhere. There are plenty of local organizations that will take phones, but here is a national one:


This program was started by two teens outside Boston who raised money for troops. Donated phones are cashed in with a company called ReCellular, and the money is used to send calling cards to troops abroad. Cards can be used in any country where there is USO or military phone service available.

Here is a news report about their program:

(10/365) Help reservists by donating leave and sick days


Just a quick note today on this:

It is an incredible strain on reservists and guard troops when they have to pull up roots, disrupt family and work, and serve their duty on deployment. Although they have legal protection to keep them from losing their jobs outright, activation usually means a cut in pay, and time before and after deployment can suck up leave and sick days.

When I was active duty, I could usually arrange with very understanding colleagues (who had deployed many times themselves!) to massage a few days of vacation before deployment, and our commander always made sure we had the chance for two weeks of "reconstitution time" with families upon redeployment home.

It may not be so easy in the civilian workplace!

So, this is a chance to help out those who are defending all of us. If a coworker is deploying, consider donating leave days/sick days to allow them time with family before and after their tour. For bosses, do what you can to make their transition in and out of deployment as easy as possible.

These generous gestures are definitely noticed and appreciated! It is a way we all, civilian or military, can do our part.

Have fun!


If you didn't get it already: Coupon info


I'm sure that most of you who read this blog already have this coupon, but I wanted to make sure that anyone who was going to buy the book got the discount. Our publisher, NTI Upstream, is offering a 20% pre-release discount on any copies ordered before 1 NOV 2009. Here is the coupon info:

It is my pleasure to announce the official pre-sale release of NTI Upstream’s new book, Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq, available at http://www.coppolathebook.com

The book is now available at a 20% discount until the end of October at http://www.coppolathebook.com. Use presale code “NTI09”

Remember, Christmas is coming...

Have fun and love life!


25 October 2009

Holiday suport for troops (9/365) Operation Love from Home

Send cards and support to the troops:

Operation Love From Home


Has organized a holday card drive for troops deployed over seas.

They need your help! Send Cards, holiday treats, postage, or donations.

guidelines and info are here:


Here is how it works: (from Operation Love from Home)

OCTOBER 15 to NOVEMBER 28, 2009
The Mission: To collect Christmas/Holiday cards and festive holiday goodies for troops serving our country all over the world, to let them know that we are thinking of them during the holiday season and have not forgotten them!
**We are also collecting candy canes, cookies (store-bought only please) and other festive, fun holiday items to include with our cards! Let's share that holiday spirit in a big way!
The Reason: Being away from home, often living in harsh conditions with combat & constant danger is difficult ~ our troops need to know we have not forgotten them!!! Mail from home helps to keep our troops' morale strong, making a very real difference in their lives. It keeps them motivated and focused when they know we care about them!

The Address: Send your signed, unsealed thank-you cards to the following address:

P.O. Box 1660
Loganville, Georgia, 30052
The Guidelines:
**The cards can be handmade or store-bought. Even regular letters are fine. This is a great opportunity to get your Scout troop, school, church/house of worship and other civic organizations involved in doing something to tangibly show support for our troops.
**Please do not write the date on your cards. This is so that, in the event cards reach us after our shipping deadline has passed, we can hang on to the cards and use them for our next card drive.

**Keep the cards fun and light-hearted – this is not a dating service, nor do we allow political or anti-war sentiment! Any cards of an inappropriate, suggestive, or political/otherwise negative nature will be thrown away.

Contact Info for questions:

If you have any questions, please contact us at Kat@OperationLoveFromHome.org or

24 October 2009

Crawl for the Cure

Whoa, been a busy week! Haven't had much chance to report on the weekend! (last weekend that is.)

Last Saturday, the boys and I headed to Rausch Creek Offroad Park in Tremont, PA to attend the NJ Jeeps Crawl for the cure to benefit Breast cancer research.


It was a muddy day, and actually snowed in the morning, but the trails were awesome.

The boys were eager to mount up and head out!

We took a position near the end of our column. We had picked a group that was tackling intermediate trails (We have no trailer, so we did have to keep the jeep in good enough condition to drive home.)

Our group of one YJ, three TJ's, two XJ's, our JK, and an old flattie was expertly led by Jen from NJ jeeps who soldiered on even after she broke her front axle spider gears on a rock obstacle.
The event was a huge success. There were about 300 participants riding in 150 rigs. We finished the day with a barbecue in the rain, and the boys even won a gift certificate to Hyline Offroad
We all got a kick out of the pink Crawl for the Cure jeep!

For the troops (8/365) Volunteer in the Hospital

A wonderful way to help out troops and veterans at a time when they really could benefit from a helping hand and a smiling face is to volunteer at a military hospital or a Veteran's Affairs Hospital.

There are MTF's and VA hospitals across the country, so chances are one is a short drive from your home.

There is a good list of MTF's on the wounded warriors website:


Each will have it's own process for registering to volunteer. Here are the guidelines for Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC


You can register to volunteer in a VA hospital and find one near you at the VA website:


Wherever you help, it will be needed and appreciated.

During seven years of residency at Yale New Haven Hospital, I was in and out of the VA hospital in West Haven. I can recall three New Year's Eves spent watching the midnight fireworks over New Haven Harbor with the veterans on the surgical wards on fourth floor. Most of the vets we treated were WWII troops who were being treated for lung cancer, colon cancer, and diabetic feet. The stories they told were amazing. I would go into their rooms to check the blood pressure in their ankles, and come out an hour later having heard a first person account of the beaches at Normandy. I got far more from them then I ever could have given.

21 October 2009

For the Troops (7/365) Visit a museum

A scene from the Newseum

This weekend, I attended a reception for alumni of the Children's National Medical Center
where I received my training in pediatric surgery. The reception was held in the Newseum, on Pennsylvania Av. in Washington DC. Wandering through the museum, I was amazed to see how our military is woven into the story of our country as told in the newspapers.
There were papers dating back to the Civil war that brought news from the front to citizens in towns and on farms. The horrors and victories of World War II were writ large in the papers of the times. A section of the Berlin War and a guard tower spoke of the heroism of the Berlin Airlift and the many troops deployed around the world during the Cold War. Exhibits showed how reporters embedded with the troops gained a first person account of war and an uninhibited look at the lives of soldiers.
Visiting this museum gave me an appreciation of how historic events were once current events splashing across the papers, and how so many citizens before us have also felt the hopes and fears as our nation's young troops risked their lives far away. It felt like pausing to remember them honored them and that the visit was an act of appreciation in itself.
I photographed on thing in the Newseum, the hall devoted to September 11th, 2001 which housed the radio tower from the World Trade Center, a section of the cornice from the Pentagon, and a single American flag.

Visit any museum of American History in our country, and you will learn a fraction of the sacrifice made for us by our brave troops through the years.

20 October 2009

Pre-Med? Here's some (other) great blogs!


I received a very generous honor today: My blog was picked as one of the 99 best blogs for medical students over at the LPN to RN blog.

Here is the full list:


This is a great resource, and it is a great reminder of how all of us allied health providers are intertwined in our goal of the best possible care for patients. It was amazing to see the way everyone pulled together in the combat support hospital: Nurses doing doctor jobs, Doctors doing medical student jobs, Techs doing laboratory jobs; every troop just looking for a chance to pitch in. It makes me happy when I see that same can-do in our hospitals here at home.

Have fun!


16 October 2009

Supporting troops (6/365) Care packages with AnySoldier

Man, did we love care packages! I remember when SP wrote a newsletter for his church. He told his fellow parishioners back home that we wanted Twizzlers and beef jerky. A few weeks later, we were swimming in the stuff! We had so much beef jerky that I made a big jerky dispenser and hung it on the wall in the surgeons' area. Long nights on call were a little easier when we could reach up and grab a bag of teryaki strips to gnaw on as we wrote the dressing plans and evacuation orders for our patients.

If you don't have a special troop of your own to send a package, just go to:


and they well send your package along to a deployed soldier who might not have someone sending them goodies. Just think how that soldier will feel when they get back after a dusty hot mission and there is a package waiting for them, just like Christmas.

Any Soldier was started by Sgt. Brian Horn in 2003. They can help suggest what to put in a care package. You can direct your gift to a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine. Whoever you choose, believe me it will be appreciated.

15 October 2009

Troop Support! (5/365) Hire veterans!

This war is producing many young men and women who have completed their military service and are reentering civilian life.

Remember, they took care of us, lets take care of them!

Whenever you can, look to veterans when you are seeking a new employee.

They have so much going for them. Veterans are used to responsibility, accountability, and working as part of team.

Believe me veterans know what it means to show up and turn in a solid day of work, come rain or shine.

Do not be afraid of hiring disabled veterans. You will find that drive, training, and experience will overcome apparent limitations. Many federal support programs are in place to be sure that this is possible.

Info from the government at Hire Vets First:


Learn more at Hire Veterans:


Top 10 reasons to hire vets from Veteran's today

1. Accelerated Learning Curve
2. Leadership
3. Teamwork
4. Diversity and Inclusion in Action
5. Efficient performance under pressure
6. Respect for procedures
7. Technology and globalization
8. Integrity
9. Conscious of health and safety standards
10. Triumph over adversity


And for veterans who are looking for a job, there are many useful leads at Veterans 4 Hire:


Hire Vets!

(And a big thank you to Geisinger Medical Center for having the faith to hire this veteran)

Like this blog? Vote for it!


I'm all smiles because I'm cheerfully asking for your vote as best medical blogger on Wellsphere!

Here is my Wellsphere profile (Wellsphere is a compendium of medical resources)

You can vote for me there, or just click on the link below.

Whether you vote or not, thanks for reading!

PS, that picture is really really old. When it was taken House of Pain's "Jump Around" was on the radio.

Support the Troops (4/365) Blog action day for Climate Change

Today is blog action day, when bloggers around the world all coordinate to draw attention to a single issue. The topic this year is climate change.

Read more at blog action Day


I'll have to focus my discussion on a very specific climate: the atmosphere floating over Joint Base Balad in Iraq.

When I visited in 2005 and 2007, the majority of our waste was burned in an open pit. A column of noisome smoke would bellow fort from this pit 24 hours a day. When the wind came from the North from midday on to evening, the clouds of smoke would lay low over the hospital and fill our halls with the stench of burning plastic and soot.

This brings me to my suggestion on how to help the troops: We can all do our part to demand the best conditions for our troops serving far away.

One hero of mine is Debbie (Ms. Sparky) who is tireless in her mission to call attention to poor living conditions for the troops, and calling for prompt improvements.


Congress is investigating into claims that the burn pits are responsible for troop illness.


As is the VA.


Here is a site where troops have posted their own stories on how burn pits across Iraq and Afghanistan have affected them:


Our dedicated troops are risking their lives for us. We owe it to them to make their bases safe.

14 October 2009

Supporting Troops (3/365) Fisher House

Now here is an organization near and dear to my heart:

Fisher House


When I was a pediatric surgeon in Texas at the Wilford Hall Medical Center on Lackland Air Force Base, I took care of troops' children from far and wide. I received patients from as far away as Japan. Many of my child patients came from just three hours north, Ft. Hood in Kileen, TX. The base has the highest number of births in any military treatment facility (with big peaks 9 months after a division comes home to their families!)

When my patients came from far away, their parents were welcome to stay at the Fisher House. It was kind of like a home away from home for families who had to be at the hospital. While I was deployed, I learned that Fisher House wasn't a local San Antonio phenomenon that was there just to help the parents of my patients, it was an amazing institution with over thirty houses on three continents, helping out families of troops who needed medical treatment for any reason.

Fisher house was started by Zachary Fisher, a construction magnate in New York. He was unable to serve in the military because of a bad leg, but he had a deep admiration and appreciation for military families. He also saved the Intrepid aircraft carrier and preserved it as a museum.

Because of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher's dedication and vision, carried on by present Fisher House Chairman Ken Fisher, over 120,000 families have been hosted at the Fisher Houses.

When I returned from deployment, I felt like I had been taken out of the game. I had been working day after day helping the troops, and suddenly I was doing nothing for them. I found Fisher House and I was amazed to find that 100% of donated funds went straight to troop services, largely because the Fisher family continues to provide the operating funds. My wife Meredith and I have been able to raise over $1000 for Fisher House, and it gives me a little sense of still doing my tiny bit for the troops.

Check out the Fisher House site:


for ways you can help. If you live near a Fisher House, there are many ways to participate: donate supplies or food, cook a meal for the families of injured troops staying there, visiting to decorate for holidays or give clothing and Christmas gifts to the kids.

Here are the locations of the 43 Fisher Houses, and more are being constructed:


Palo Alto VA Health Care System
San Diego Naval Medical Center (2)
Travis Air Force Base
West Los Angeles VA Med Ctr.


Denver VA Medical Center
District of Columbia
Walter Reed Army Medical Ctr (3)


Bay Pines VAMC, St. Petersburg
Haley VA Hospital, Tampa
West Palm Beach VA Med. Ctr


Eisenhower AMC, Fort Gordon


Tripler Army Medical Center (2)


Blanchfield ACH, Fort Campbell


Andrews Air Force Base
Bethesda Naval Medical Center (2)


Minneapolis VA Medical Center


Keesler Air Force Base

New York

Stratton VA Medical Ctr., Albany

North Carolina

Womack Army Medical Center


Cincinnati VA Medical Center
Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton (2)


William Beaumont AMC
Darnall Army Medical Center
DeBakey VA Med Center, Houston
Brooke Army Medical Center (4)
Wilford Hall USAF Med. Ctr. (3)
North Texas VA Health Care, Dallas


McGuire VA Medical Ctr., Richmond
Portsmouth Naval Medical Center


Madigan Army Medical Center
Puget Sound VA Health Care, Seattle


Landstuhl Reg. Med. Center, GE (2)

13 October 2009

Thank you (Support the Troops 2/365)

People often ask me what they can do for the troops. The simplest things are often most effective. My advice, is just say "Thank you"

Believe me, it is appreciated. I think anyone, having a tough day, struggling through the demands of work, missing home and family, would get a little lift out of hearing a friendly "Thank you." For a troop, they may be far from home, months since they saw their wife or husband, and under the stress of living with danger or having lost a brother.

You might get the same response I used to give, "I'm just doing my job." That's really how I felt. Everyone has their job, show up and do what you have to, til the job is done. When you think about it, really everyone deserves a "Thank you." For troops, they deserve a "Thank you" from every citizen in the country.

If you feel shy about stepping up to a stranger and saying "Thank you", consider the advice of the Gratitude Campaign.


Simply sign "Thank you" by touching your heart with your right hand, then lowering your hand. It doesn't take a word to do it.

I'll admit, when I first saw this, I thought it was the Arabic "Salaam" which is a slight bow, and touching the hand to the forehead or the heart. In Iraq, it is usually to the heart. It means simply "Peace" or "Hello". But even that would be appreciated. After months in the middle east, it had become a familiar and friendly gesture.


12 October 2009

Our book website is live www.coppolathebook.com

Our book website is now available:


The site is a multimedia exploration of the book.

There are two benefits of purchasing the book on the website:

1) It will be available there in NOV, and widely available in FEB

2) Starting in NOV, 10% of of book purchase will go to benefit child and troop organizations. In NOV, our partner is Warchild.

Let me know here if you have any comments about the site!

Take care,


Word from one who knows writing and the military

Today I received a wonderful comment on the book from a friend who is a writer and is very familiar with military family life.

"Pediatric Surgeon Christopher Coppola sprints in the first chapter with a no-holds barred account of his first day as a surgeon in a war zone hospital. With intensity and muscle, Coppola brings his readers along on a memorable journey as he recounts the children treated --the smallest victims of war. Coppola, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, makes a strong case to ensure our combat zone hospitals aren't just for injured soldiers, but serve as a zone of safety, caring and training for everyone. Such acts of humanity go far to create the footing for a healthier society and diplomatic relations. A person of thoughtfulness and humility, Coppola keeps his eye on the long term."

-Kanani Fong, The Kitchen Dispatch: A Literary MilSpouse Blog

Check out Kanani's writing at her sites below. You'll thank me!

Get Lost With Easy-Writer BlogsLiterary Rants


On Military Wife Life


On Fashion


SoldiersAngels (Support the troops 1/365)

A while back, I told the story of a child we treated at the Air Force Theater Hospital in Iraq. She was a baby who had been injured. It looked severe, but fortunately after a few visits to the OR she did very well. An artist in Oklahoma, Lou Baggett took inspiration and created a watercolor of the nurse caring for the patient.

Lou then donated the artwork, with others, to SoldiersAngels, an organization that is dedicated to ensuring no soldier is forgotten. When I was in Iraq, they gave me a travel mug I still treasure. As I ride warm and comfortable to my safe well-equipped hospital, sipping from the cup reminds me of how lucky I am. I'm lucky because there are troops out there putting their lives on the line for me and my family, and while I was there, A stranger took the time to do a little something to let me know I was appreciated.

Here is the SoldiersAngels store with Lou's cards:

And here is Lou's blog:

11 October 2009

Book is available for pre-order

I got some very exciting news this week; our book is now available for purchase!
The book can be ordered at the Coppola the Book website, and it will ship out on 1 NOV


The book is available on Amazon, but Amazon will not be able to ship it out until FEB 2010


For more information, check out the multimedia information available at:


Here are some quotes from advance readers:

Powerful, thought-provoking and unforgettable, A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq stands alone among accounts of the Iraq war. Unlike other authors, Chris Coppola has chosen to focus on the two issues that transcend all conflict: our mortality and our sense of morality. Writing with poignant honesty, he illuminates the well-worn generalizations of war with trenchant details, recounting stories about American and Iraqi individuals who must bear, as well as care for, the often tragic consequences of combat. You will never again look at the Iraq war – or any war for that matter -- in quite the same way. - Dr. Pauline Chen, transplant surgeon and best-selling author, Final Exam, A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality

Dr. Chen's Book and New York Times Column: http://paulinechen.typepad.com/

“Coppola speaks as a witness to human tragedy—a testimony of two deployments in hell . . . This is a heartbreaking memoir by a hero who would never call himself that . . . essential reading for our time.” —Terry Sanders, two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker, producer/director, Fighting For Life

Terry's film account of military medicine: http://www.fightingforlifethemovie.com/

“War often puts doctors in impossible situations. Dr. Chris Coppola's remarkable account of his experience as a combat surgeon in Iraq throws a whole new light on medicine under fire . . . This is a great read and tribute to the American spirit of generosity." —Dr. Khassan Baiev, president, the International Committee for the Children of Chechnya and author, The Oath: A Surgeon under Fire

Dr. Baiev's account of surgery in wartime Chechnya: http://www.theoathbook.com/home.php

"Compelling, heartwrenching . . . Coppola reveals the true victims of war; the children of Iraq." —Gunnar Swanson, War Kids Relief

More about War Kids Relief: http://warkidsrelief.org/

“With a quick wit, and a fine tongue, Coppola brings a fresh voice to the war.” —Michael Anthony, Iraq veteran and author, Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq

About Michael's book: http://www.masscasualties.com/

I am very happy for such complimentary feedback, and I would love to hear any and all opinions from others.

15 September 2009

Honor the Quiet Professionals

During my deployments to Iraq, I had the honor of serving some of the military's "Quiet Professionals" as a small but very unique portion of our clients. The quiet professionals are the US military Special Forces; highly trained and independent shadow warriors who complete the most dangerous and tricky missions. In the hospital we met Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Air Force Combat Controllers. They came to us as patients, secretly in the middle of the night with false names and social security numbers, and then disappeared just as fast when they had been stabilized. We coordinated care with Special Forces physicians, many of them reservists who left their families for months at a time, completely out of communication. We trained their medics to intubate, decompress collapsed lungs, and quickly pass venous or intraosseous catheters to help their men in times of need. One medic I knew started IV's on his troops before battle, and packed bags of fluid in his ruck with stacks of ammo magazines so he could quickly start resuscitation if they were hit. It was very humbling to work with such dedicated troops.

20 FEB 2009 SSgt Tim Davis lost his life to an IED attack near Bagram, Afghanistan. He was a USAF Combat Controller. Members of his team are trekking 800 miles in 10 days in his honor. They will travel with 50lb packs on their long walk from San Antonio to Pensacola. Tim leaves behind a wife and a one year old son.

Learn more about Tim here:


Here is the team's fundraising site:


Here is the breakdown of the trekking team:


and lastly, here is a map of their route from TX to FL:

View Larger Map

13 September 2009

Amputee Coalition of America

I read an interesting article by Lola Butcher in the Bulletin of our professional organization, the American College of Surgeons.

She described how the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) has been working with Dr. Jeffrey Gambel, a physiatrist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC to develop a Peer Network for veteral amputees. The ACA has a vibrant National Peer Network, but Dr. Gambel found that just because a person showed up and volunteered to help counsel new amputees didn't mean that they had the necessary skills. Often the conversations were one-sided without the soldier ever being drawn out. Also most non-combat related amputees are much older and suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, so it was difficult for the troops fresh out of their teenage years to relate to them.

With the help of the ACA a cadre of trained peer amputee visitors was educated and now serves the veteran amputees undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed.

If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about the Amputee Coalition of America, their website can be found here:


If you have had an experience with the peer visitors, I would appreciate learning your thoughts on the program in the comments here.

Take care!

12 September 2009

The showers in Iraq still a danger

On September second, Adam Hermanson was electrocuted while taking a shower in Camp Olympia in the Green Zone in Iraq. He leaves behind a widow, and grieving family who never expected to lose their 25 year old veteran and patriot in this way. The story strikes close to home because the couple had been building a home in a community near our town.

Mr. Hermanson was an employee of Triple Canopy, which has taken many of the security contracts vacated by Blackwater. Before 2009, he served 6 years in the Air Force in Iraq and Uzbekistan, enlisting so young that he needed parental consent.

To add insult to injury, his family was given conflicting reports of how he died. A Triple Canopy represented told his mother he had collapsed by his bed and there was no explanation of how he had died. It was an embassy representative who told his wife that he had been electrocuted in the shower. Triple Canopy dismantled the plumbing in his room shortly after his death.

Since the electrocution death of Ryan Maseth, 20 months ago, there have been countless hearings and investigations with operation SAFE attempting to protect troops. There is no excuse for these preventable deaths. My thoughts and good wishes go out to his family.

An in depth article at the Nation:


Ms. Sparky as always has the most information on the topic, including an interview with his family:


09 September 2009

Water, water.

Got to read a good article about current life on Joint Base Balad today:

The pics brought me right back. Some things sounded just the same. I'm sure they are still lining up for Mongolian BBQ night at DFAC 1 every THU night. It sounded like the same pirated movies and crappy souvenirs are for sale in the Iraqi Bazaar.

A few things seemed different. The article described a new sewage treatment plant. When I was there, they used to collect all the poopy water in a big pit (near DFAC 1) and then pump it into tanker trucks to be spirited off base to an unknown destination in the night.

I read how the water treatment plants produced 1.9 million gallons of water each day for washing, and bottled 7 million bottles of water a month for consumption. That fast fact reminded me of how I packed at least a liter of water no matter where I went over there. Whether it was in my Camelbak bladder or just a bottle I grabbed on the way out of the DFAC, constant hydration was a way of life.

It's actually taken me a long time to break this habit here at home. I always have a bottle of water in my vehicle when I head out. Whenever we go out as a family, I fill up a one liter bottle of water for each person on the trip as my kids are pulling their shoes on. For longer trips, I fill the Coleman 5 gallon collapsible jug and pack it with the gear.

A month or so ago, we rushed out late and I had forgotten water. I got about 50 feet past the driveway, and it hit me like a shock. I mulled it over for a mile or so as I drove, and I realized that I was obsessing on the fact that we had no water. Now mind you, we were only going five miles, and our destination was a birthday party in a shopping mall. I turned to M. and told her, "Please tell me it would be ridiculous to turn back for water and that I'm crazy to even think about it." She grabbed my hand and gave me one of her smiles that just melts my worries. Since then I've become a lot more relaxed about it.

Of course when we head out, everyone still asks me, "Do have your water?"

07 September 2009

Ewe know it.

We have adopted a sheep. She is two years old, round and fat, and has beautiful wool. We've named her "Honeysuckle" for the rich warm honey color of her deeper coat. She's not grazing around the house, she's staying at her home on a local farm. M., the boys and I walked through her pasture and helped feed her corn today. The farm is a small affair, 100 or so acres with sheep, pigs, chickens, horses, and cows. The livestock are grass fed, and wander the fields freely. The farmers are also working on bees, and purple clover flowers are scattered across the pastures. The boys loved watching the pigs vie for space at the tub of milk. Chickens wandered across the dirt roads that took us from paddock to paddock. We look forward to visiting Honeysuckle again, and even getting her to see her lamb in the spring. Maybe there will be some grain fed pork along the way!

04 September 2009

Health Care Reform

As a follow up to yesterday's post, I am going to be pointing out some of the blog chatter regarding health care reform.

You can join the conversation on twitter by following @chriscoppola.

I am interested in hearing your feedback, either on twitter or commenting on this blog. Also, if you know of any great health care blogs, make sure to point them out.

03 September 2009

A lot of people have asked my opinion on the recent round of health care reform, and I have to admit I don't have much confidence that we are going to get much done. The way I see it, everyone debating health care has made up their mind before coming to the table, and is shouting their opinion so loudly, they can't hear the other side. I see images of people on Medicare, a government health plan saying that government health plans would be an abomination and should not be allowed to exist. http://www.nj.com/ledgerlive/index.ssf/2009/08/health_care_reform_town_hall_n.html

I see citizens holding vigils and protests, and opponents pay no heed or accuse them of greed. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2009/sep/03/supporters-hold-vigil-health-care-reform/

At one protest, an Obama supporter actually bit off a man's finger! http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hAkLGsyNutX4LzUQhcc2zUSHXqYgD9AG37B80 Fortunately, the man's health care was paid for by Medicare.

I honestly don't think all of the shouting will amount to anything, but the truth remains, that is our American way. We debate our country's business in public, and every voice, no matter how stubborn or ornery has an equal right to be heard. I bet we would have a plan in place already if we were in a country where policy could be enacted in secret, but that is not our way. For my part, what I think we need to decide is if we believe that we citizens have a right to the benefits of health care, or if it is a privilege for those who can afford it. Day after day I take care of children regardless of whether they have insurance or not. Everyone who works in an ER in this country does the same. It's kind of hard to achieve the inalienable right to pursue happiness for ourselves and our children without health. I'll bet most Americans feel this way about themselves and their families. It isn't too much of a leap to listen for a moment and realize that our neighbors feel the same way we do, and we should pull together to make sure no one gets left behind.

31 August 2009

A view into Afghanistan

A friend sent this interesting address to me:


Free Range International is the blog of a security firm operating in Afghanistan. Their commentary and photos offer a country-wide view and I found them to be very educational. The authors come from US military and other global communities. They are not afraid to offer honest, critical opinion.

My favorite fact I learned today:

Nickname for Bagram AB = "Pogadishu" .
I think that beats "Mortaritaville" !

I had not heard of them before. Has anyone out there worked with them?

30 August 2009

No Limits of Indecency

I have had the same email address since 1994. That's quite a long stretch for some people to keep the same physical address, much less email address. At the time, I was actually using POL.COM (physicians online) as my Internet service provider, buzzing, clicking dial-up and all. Because I've had the same address so long, I think that I have ended up on every spam and Internet scam list possible. I'm pretty used to deleting about three quarters of my email. This week I got an email scam that was particularly odious. It was a variation of the Nigerian scheme. Here is the text:

"United States Marine in Iraq. We have some amount of Funds that we want to move out of the country. Can you receive this funds on our behalf? Once the funds get to you, you take your 30% out and keep our own 70%. Your own part of this deal is to find a safe place where the funds can be sent to. Regards, Sgt. Phillip Newman"

It didn't take long to discover that Sgt Phillip Newman was a British soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2007.


From what I've learned on anti-fraud sites, it is common to use the names of military members in scams, this is just the first time I've seen it.

So be careful out there and don't get taken.

29 August 2009

Help finding US made products

Got a great comment from the blog

Find US Made.com .

They were able to verify for me that Hershey had in fact moved production of chocolate to Mexico. If you visit their site, you will get to read a great story about how JC Penny's "American Made" line of apparel is produced in various countries, not the USA. The most shocking tid bit from the story: JC Penny's response was "The American Made slogan refers to the person wearing the item, not the item itself."


I've commented on this before. I've found it hard to buy USA when I wanted to. Most of the tools I find are made in China. Often there isn't even an option to buy American. I have found an alternative: hitting the tag sales and buying on Craigslist!


Last night, B. and I drove down to the capitol to buy five used tires and wheels from a guy we found on craigslist. It cost us $125 (and the set of wheels was almost worth that!) but we knew that we were buying American (at least from an American) and keeping those particular tires out of a land fill. Of course when we took the old wheels off the Cherokee, there on the drum was stamped the letters "Made in Argentina", but what can you do!

So I ask my fellow Americans, do what you can to keep jobs in the USA. Buy USA!

Made in USA

Made in USA

Here's a message I got from my friend C. today. I agree completely! I haven't checked out all of these personally (In particular, I have to see if Hershey is importing chocolate, since I know the town still smells like they are making chocolate there) but the sentiment is right on!

Help out your neighbors, keep jobs in America. Whenever you can, buy "Made in the USA".

(quoted message follows:)

One Light Bulb at a time - Very good Idea

Check this out. Someone was in Lowes the other day and looking at the hose attachments. They were all made in China. The next day she was in Ace Hardware and, just for the heck of it, she checked the hose attachments there. They were made in USA .. Start looking! In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else - even their job.. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let's get behind her! My grandson likes Hershey's candy. I noticed, though, that it is marked made in Mexico now. I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest.

You have to read the labels on everything. This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60 W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle, and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off brand labeled, "Everyday Value.." I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this - the USA in a company in Cleveland, Ohio . So onto another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets.....yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA ! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like20the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!

Throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here My challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA -the job you save may be your own or your neighbors! If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from overseas companies! (We should have awakened a decade ago.......) Let's get with the program.... help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the U.S.A.I'll accept the challenge and also challenge you all to stop using the "self service check out at the supermarket and Wal-Mart. That's somebody's job you're doing away with!!!

27 August 2009

Preservative Free

M. and I joined a CSA. I'd never heard of it before. Community Supported Agriculture is a concept where community members purchase shares in a small farm's anticipated harvest. That way some cash is infused into the farm's operations early on, and the risk of the harvest is distributed among shareholders. Tuesday's share was a tasty delivery. It featured a mixture of greens including arugula, Anis hysop, and Basil. There were cucumbers, peppers, and shallots. We had also purchased a share of eggs every other week so we got a dozen. There were no tomatoes because the blight virus had claimed most of the crop, but that's just part of the risk we accept. Our farmer's estimation is that many of the tomato plants purchased at big box stores have brought the virus in from distant communities, and it has spread to local plants. Fortunately the virus doesn't winter.

The first meal we made with the haul was a Spanish tortilla: a fritatta of eggs, red potatoes, shallots, and some jalapeno peppers I had gotten from a friend at work. The eggs had a great bright orange hue to the yolks, and the vegetables were all so crisp. I don't get too worked up about dirt, impurities, or other stuff in my food. I figure, if you never get the little doses of that stuff bit by bit, the first time your system experiences it it will lay you out flat. Still, it was good to know that we weren't eating chemicals, preservatives, steroids, antibiotics, high fructose corn syrup or any of the other garbage that gets mixed into processed supermarket food. I'm not ready to go completely off the grid, but it was a great dish!

25 August 2009

Blog Action Day

This is directed mostly towards friends who blog. Blog Action Day is coming up on 15 OCT. It is a day dedicated to one issue, and as many bloggers as possible devote a post that day to discussing their perspective on that issue.

Last year, the topic was poverty, and 12,800 bloggers were involved.


This year, I would like for the topic to be peace and armed forces.

You can cast your vote here:


The blog action day organizers have also joined up with http://www.change.org/ to try and reach as many people as possible.

If you like, you can follow blog action day progress on twitter:


Even if the topic is not military related, I'm sure I can spew forth some sort of opinion on 15 OCT! Stay tuned, more to come.

Be Kind, ReMind.org

If you have a sec., check out https://www.remind.org . It is the site of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, dedicated to helping injured troops reintegrate into communities.


23 August 2009

So I fell off my roof today.

Before you say it, let me beat you to the punch: yes I am an idiot.

I was taking down an unused satellite dish left by the old owners, and knocking off some piles of decaying pine needles.

It happened something like this:

Do you remember that scene in King's "The Shining" when Jack Torrence is knocking the wasps' nest off the Overlook Hotel? Well I had finished tossing off all of the piles of debris that were far enough from the edge that I wasn't too terrified to approach them. (I know this will sound absurd, but yes I do have a fear of heights.) I was climbing down off the second floor roof to the ladder I had stood on the first floor roof. My son was holding the ladder. I carefully searched for unseen stable footholds. Just as I felt the rungs of the ladder firm beneath my feet, I saw a flurry of yellow and black by my left eye.

I felt the first yellow jacket sting my left earlobe. I immediately shifted from crawl to third and popped the clutch. I launched off the roof and prepared to hit the deck. All I could think of was School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. We never jumped, but the flight trainers gave us some of the tools. We rode the ejection trainer up a stomach dropping three storeys in less than a second. We were tossed in a swimming pool in under our chutes and had to swim for air in flight suits and helmets. We jumped off thirty foot towers and had to attenuate impact by collapsing joints one at a time: toes, ankles, knees, hips, crumple and roll. After this training we each got to ride a T-37 and take it through multiple G-force flips, dives, and barrell rolls. I think they stopped short of throwing doctors out of a plane because the Air Force had invested too much in us already to let us have some real fun.

I lay on the roof and looked up at B. His eyes popped wide and he asked, "Are you OK?".

I ran a quick system check and replied, "Yeah, I scraped my elbow a bit, but I'm not hurt. I guess I came down that ladder pretty fast, didn't I?"

He said, "Uh dad, you came down, but you didn't use the ladder."

George: you don't even have to say it, I know, YOU TOLD ME SO!

Everyone take care and celebrate because school starts tomorrow!

22 August 2009

Don't miss out on veterans, universities!

(Pic: Graduating with friends at Norwich: a shool that lives and breathes military)

M. found me an article that spread the disappointing news that many colleges and universities are ignoring veterans' experience when it comes to granting academic credits:


The article is very interesting. One nuclear sub operator was told he had to repeat basic physics and ended up teaching the professor points of practical application, and another was told that jump school didn't count for a PE credit when other students could write it off with a SCUBA class in the pool.

When it came time for me to use my GI Bill benefits to get my MBA, I had lots of choices (and I saw an online Ad from University of Phoenix about every 42 seconds.) I had no trouble deciding: I went straight to Norwich University in Vermont: it is the birthplace of the ROTC and alumni have served in all wars including OIF.


They had no problem accepting military documents and communications: they even arranged to have my exams administered by the library/education office in Iraq!

Universities will miss out on the best and brightest if they do not recognize the value of veterans and their experience. Troops are practical enough they will go elsewhere.

The article highlighted two resources:

Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges: a DOD funded consortium of colleges that have pledged to accept military service as credit where applicable.


and Student Veterans of America, an organization founded by an AF veteran to advance the aims and interests of former troops in school.


19 August 2009

Here, Bullet, a mystery.

A long time ago I posted a blog expressing how deeply I am struck by Brian Turner's poems. He served in Iraq in 2ID. I have yet to find a more pure expression of the war than his work. Read here two that haunt me: "Here, Bullet", and "AB Negative"


I see my own Thalia as I read them.

One other to mention is "Body Bags"


Today I read an article detailing how small arms fire is more deadly in Iraq (20% of soldiers struck die) when compared to Afghanistan (15%):


The article offers solid theories: The steel core rounds used more commonly by insurgent snipers in Iraq (can penetrate Kevlar) and evidence there are greater numbers of skilled insurgent sniper teams in Iraq.

From my part, I was struck by the impression that barely any of my US troop patients had received penetrating projectile trauma: Nearly all of them were victims of fragmentation/blast attack, like IED and indirect fire. Fortunately we were lucky enough to have a great survival rate for these wounds: round about 93%, and if they made it to the Balad hospital alive, survival was 98%.

The lower incidence of small arms fire injuries is a testament to great advances in individual body armor. Even over the course of the war our experiences guided improvements such as broader neck, axilla, and groin protection. (Of course all this makes a sweaty, heavy kit sweatier and heavier, so we might not get universal thanks!)

I think perhaps the higher death rate of these thankfully less common gunshot wounds is because they represent the unlucky magic bullets that sneak through the few gaps in the armor to strike a major blood vessel or vulnerable organ. I'm hard pressed to say why it is more deadly in Iraq than Afghanistan. I would agree that enemy personnel/capability has something to do with it: there has been a gathering of foreign fighters. However I think the most likely culprit is terrain: In Iraq the denser population centers allows the insurgents to deviously blend in with civilians and sneak up closer to our troops for more lethal fire. Perhaps not for much longer.

I'd be curious to hear if those with actual experience outside the wire have an opinion on this, rather than rely on guesses from a Fobbit like me!

Lastly, if you want to read an incredible story about how our amazing fighting troops are bulletproof, look here:


Stay safe, wear your gear.


(below: potentially eye-killing frag stopped by ICE. Thanks to SB for image)