Wounded Warriors

Hello there, Godzilla here. It’s been a while since I’ve posted on PlaneBuzz, and not for a lack of subjects available considering the current state of the airline industry. To be honest, sometimes writing about the gloom and doom out there is physically draining. I think Holly would agree with that.
So here is a little diversion; a little side trip away from tracking the daily increase in the price of a gallon of gas, or the calculation of reduced ASM’s from the latest announcement of air service cutbacks. As some of you may know, I am a pilot and a Certified Flight Instructor (FAA code named CFI/A/I/ME) and I own an airplane. Late last year I learned about a group called Veteran’s Airlift Command, a group of over 700 volunteer pilots who fly wounded soldiers and their familes to and from treatment facilities, at no charge. Soldiers receiving treatment for their injuries receive first rate care, but that care is often at a facility far from their family. Having family members close by during recovery is an important, some would say the most important, factor in a speedy recovery. The mission of the Veteran’s Airlift Command is to “……provide free air transportation to wounded warriors, veterans and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.”
I flew to San Diego this week and visited the Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), also known as Balboa Naval Hospital. While visiting several facilities co-located on the hospital grounds I had an opportunity to talk with the most impressive group of people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Located in the same area as NMCSD is Fisher House Balboa, an amazing facility that houses families of recovering military personnel free of charge.
Down the street from Fisher House I met with both the Army and Marine staff in charge of their respective programs. The Army program is called the Warrior Transition Company, and the Marines call it the Wounded Warrior Battalion.
The purpose of my visit was to make the staff aware of the service available, and as I said, they were an amazing group of folks.
But that wasn’t the really impressive part. The really impressive part, or maybe the most humbling part of the trip was talking to the Soldiers and Marines.
Like Army Specialist Joe who had come in for a haircut. He’s only been married for two months and is a bit new at the Husband occupation. Joe selected a couch for their new place without soliciting the approval of his new wife, with the expected result (take it back). I told him I thought red was a great color for a couch (!), and although I am not the person to give advice about either marriage or haircuts, I was pretty sure that anything going into a living room needs wife approval. Joe is a bilateral amputee and because of the severity of his injuries, using prosthetic legs is very painful and he can’t use them for long periods of time. But as he walked off the elevator and extended his hand to me you couldn’t tell he was feeling any pain at all from the legs. What a tough kid.
As I was waiting in the reception area for the Wounded Warriors Battalion I had the opportunity to observe the interaction between Marines who seem to continually come, go, and wait. These were young people who had some terrible injuries, but they were still wising off and busting chops.
I watched as two Marines walked by each other in the hallway, one raising his hand over his head and saying “Give me four” to the other, who was missing a finger on his right hand. Another Marine walked by his friend who was wearing a new prosthetic leg and said “Dude, that’s a F#$%@d up lookin’ leg!”
One Marine came in to the waiting area wearing shorts and a T-shirt that said “Please tell your boobs to stop staring at my eyes”, which made me laugh out loud. As he hoisted himself from the wheelchair to the couch (he was also a bilateral amputee) with ease I also noticed he was missing a finger on his right hand and his right eye was glass. He struck up a conversation with another Marine waiting there, who was missing his right leg below the knee, his left leg was in a brace, and his right arm was in a type of cast from wrist to shoulder. They talked about stuff guys their age talk about, and I after a while I felt at ease enough to add my opinion on the subject (which was about the ridiculous salaries of Major League Baseball Players).
My point in describing the injuries is not to overshadow who these young people are; on the contrary. Although they have permanent injuries they still have lives to live. They still want to do the things that young people do as they grow up (although I did point out that the Boobs T-shirt was probably not the best way for him to accomplish his current goal). They are alive and they will live (hopefully) long fruitful lives. But as a society we owe these people something. A lot, actually.
It is not my purpose to have a political discussion on the war against terrorism. For the young people I met in San Diego it was a simple matter of doing their duty as they were asked. Now it is our duty to make sure these lives are not wasted. There are a lot of groups who need help providing assistance to wounded warriors and you can certainly donate to the Veteran’s Airlift Command and click on “Ground Support….Make a Donation”. Also, Fisher House is building another facility at the Balboa Naval Hospital and you can contribute to that endeavor through this link.
We now return to our regularly scheduled airline blogging.
Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “Wounded Warriors

  1. JudgeRight

    A friend of mine referred me to your article. It is a great read, thank you. It kind of helps us to know these folks. I look forward to opportunities to honor them in person. They deserve anything we can do for them so thank you for what you are doing.

  2. Godzilla

    Thanks for the kind words. There are lots of ways to help outside of sending them money, especially if you live near a facility that cares for or rehabilitates these people. They get great treatment, but having their family around helps their recovery significantly.

  3. Debbie Williams

    The Letitia Coxe Shelby Chapter , National Society Daughters of the American Revolution have 60 filled stockings for our Wounded Warriors (in house at Christmas) at Balboa Regional Medical Hospita. Problem is, we have lost our contact liasion. If anyone out there knows who we can contact, we would be ever so grateful. Any help would be great.
    Debbie Williams Wounded Warriors Committee, Letitia Coxe Shelby, NSDAR

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