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!