Funny things happen when you get out of your office. You find out that sometimes people tell you things to cover their asses. You find out that the system you have so much faith in, might be flawed in a small way that affects many lives. There's one lesson that all leaders need to know. You are only as effective as your weakest link. If you sit in your office how will you ever know who that is and where to help?
How would I describe yesterday's meeting? Productive, would be the best word. I cannot say it was good or bad, I believe there were parts of the conversation that went to each side's tally. I truly feel the group I was honored to be a part of really made their voices heard. I am surrounded by amazing people who are finally being heard and it is awesome.
I am so thankful for this soldier who came to share his story with us. The general might have started the meeting, but this man set the tone. He told us about his service in the Army. He is a Major so he's not just your average wounded warrior. He didn't make it to Major without a lot of sacrifice and hard work. He had our undivided attention. He told us about his battles with his post-traumatic stress and how he reached out for help and has fought the whole way. Then he said the key piece. He said, "Sir I am a Major and this is how I am treated. I can't imagine how the PFC's are treated."
I had to turn my head as the Major was talking. I saw his hands shaking and when he started to tear up, I was over come with emotion. As he talked about he failed suicide and the faces of many of Chaz's soldiers popped into my head. I had to cry because all I could think about was all the faces of all the soldiers Chaz and I know. I closed my eyes and their faces flashed through my head like a scene from a movie. How many of them are having the same issues? That was the thought going through my head.
When he finished talking he excused himself. You could tell by this young man's demeanor, he was an excellent soldier who just needed help. Instead of listening and helping him, the Army was rushing his healing. We have many families dealing with this same issue.
Another solider spoke. I'll be honest I could listen to him talk for hours because he has a British accent and he speaks so eloquently. Our paths have crossed many times. He is another one of our amazing warriors here for treatment. He is also trying to make things better for others. He brought up so many valid points. The most important point he brought up was that the caregivers are under utilized and even devalued. I loved that he pointed out we came here to help one soldier and we end up helping more than we can count.
The conversation continued for hours. I am still laughing because the General assured us in-processing is going to be handled. Which is one thing I have been begging for. The Marines in-process their soldiers, but we make our wounded do it. I wish I could remember the Captain from the old hospital's name. He said you can never get rid of in-processing this is the Army. I told him that I wasn't saying get rid of it. I was saying let's make it a little easier on them. He was in the "I'm just here to do a job" mode. The wounded have all just discharged and don't need to parade around the hospital getting 30 signatures. He told me I could not make that happen. I remember saying I can't but if we all got together we could. Guess who won that fight? We did.
The families that come behind us will have it a little easier. I know many families before us left their marks on the hospital and they have made it easier for us. Well this graduating class is leaving their marks behind as well. I am so thankful to be friends with so many brilliant caregivers. I know we are united through tragedy and I am so thankful for them all. They are my brothers and sisters on the front lines and am I honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
We worked together yesterday to start talking about things. The leadership that was present was shocked and sometimes horrified about what they learned. I am so glad I went and stayed to listen and give my opinion. Let's pray this is the first step to fixing the problems. I believe great things are going to happen.