Let me begin this by saying the Army has been very good to our family. I am very thankful for everything they have done for us. However recently I sat back and really observed some more of the big picture.
The Army works on the assembly line model. This model works great for basic training, AIT and everything else in the Army, but the assembly line cannot work for warrior care. I think this is the hardest concept for service members to understand. The assembly line works for everything else. Why can't it work for warrior care? The answer, every single soldier is now different. Upon injury they are no longer the standard GI Joe, we have got to accept this fact.
The assembly line model works for battlefield medicine and evacuation. Five years ago Chaz would have died as they were bringing him home to us. Chaz and the warriors around us are proof that the advancements in military medicine are saving lives. Our wounded are proof that military medicine is moving in the right direction. Battlefield medicine and evacuation is where you notice the assembly line varies just a bit. It has too. Every situation is different. Our service members and medical teams have to adapt and overcome. They head into the situation like all the others and then adjust where it is needed. So you can see that to a degree they apply the army's assembly line process to this and it works, but then they adapt and overcome like the rockstars they are. Once our guys are back in the states is when we have to slow the line down for the rest of our service members healing, if not stop the line altogether.
Wait you want me to go against what works? How can the model that it used for everything else not work
for this too? Does that mean you think the whole Army is jacked up? Does that
mean the Mayans were right? The answers are yes, hang on I'll explain, no and please Lord no. What I want is to
slow the assembly line down and think of another way to heal our
wounded.I want to make sure every one of our soldiers are getting the attention they need. We can't do that with on an assembly line cranking our guys out at ludicrous speed.
When your solider is an in-patient, their care is specified towards their needs.The assembly line is slow and moves at a tolerable rate. You then get so excited to get to out-patient status and you don't even realize the Army tosses you back on the assembly line. They give you a list of things to do and places to be and papers to fill out. Oh by the way don't forget you now have to go to all your appointments and travel all over campus because Bethesda is laid out like that. The active duty personnel you deal with seem to forget you just discharged from the hospital. They forget you might be having a hard time dealing with your new normal. They forget you might have kids. They forget that you just experienced a huge life altering trauma. To them you are a soldier and this is what you must do. To me you are a soldier with a new assignment, your job is to heal. But here's the thing your healing will be different from all the other soldiers. We have to help you understand that healing is not a competition. You need to let your body heal how it needs to and that is ok.
Our warriors are still active duty service members and should be held fully accountable to the US Army. I'll never disagree with accountability. The Army should know where our soldiers are at all times. They should take the time to make sure our wounded are attending all of their appointments. We should all have a very high interest in the healing of our service members.
What I will always argue for is common sense. (This is where I contradict the assembly line.) Not every wounded soldier is ready to go to college. Not every soldier can spend an entire day filling out paperwork. Not every soldier can sit in a TAPS course for 40 hours a week only to find out months later that they are not teaching vital pieces of the transition to them. Not every soldier is ready to work in the civilian world yet. Not every soldier wants to play adaptive sports. We have got to stop trying to convince them that they must do everything we think they need to do.Then when they don't, we can't make them feel inadequate. And we can't assume they have a controlling wife or mom who won't let them do things. (Yup, happened to us.) We have the ability to make things better, but until we acknowledge what we are doing wrong, we can never make it right.
You might have noticed I haven't really written for a while. The reason is I had too many families weighing my heart down for a bit. We have had some really unfortunate things going on here. When you direct the families to talk to the chain of command only to find out nothing was done for them and they've given up. It leaves me sitting here thinking, did I do enough?!
When you hear person after person call themselves a burden on the Army, you have to take a time out. Truth be told we are burdens. We hold up the assembly line. Our soldiers are no longer able to just pass on down the line and get off at the end. Our soldiers have been wounded and we have to slow the process down to make sure they get everything they need. And because we are slower than the other 95% out there, we are a burden.
I think what hurts me the most is that we, as a nation cannot see that some of the products coming off of the assembly are already damaged. We are so busy moving them through we are missing important details that cause our products to fall apart later. We are not taking the time to help build great foundations for our products. Therefore when they fall apart, the foundation falls apart with it and stands there trying to figure it all out. We are failing these families. We have a great system and have the opportunity to set these heroes up for a lifetime of success, but instead we focus on getting them off the line.
I cannot fix all of this alone, but I can put out my two cents. I can hope to come to the table and talk a few things out with those who have been doing this way longer than me. I can only learn more and hear about what works and what doesn't. I can hope that change is coming for our families. I have been working on many projects for 2013. These projects lead me to believe 2013 will be the year of the military family. I can only hope that I am correct.