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.