Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Observations of a Patient Patient.

Yesterday morning my wife and I got up and drove into town to wait in line for medical help. You see the Department of Defense has established a program whereby various military units can engage in "Innovative Readiness Training" by performing medical clinics in communities. Now, what this amounts to is a rather unique experience for all involved parties. Civilians who might otherwise not have access to dental, vision, or even basic medical care can come and be seen for zero cost to themselves, and even be provided with things like glasses or medication. In exchange these troops get the real world experience of grueling day-long work to hone their procedures and the chance to discover various potential issues to better prepare them for future situations.

All around it is a beneficial thing for everyone. And, I for one cannot thank them enough for the tireless and dutiful effort each and everyone of them give. I witnessed a ceaseless giving spirit and boundless kindness in every single serviceman and servicewoman yesterday. They dealt with shortages, belligerent patients, late equipment(some even managed to get broken after arriving) all manner of trying difficulties. These were folks from all over the country, most had never even been to this area and yet they all were smiling and oozing compassion. Not once did I ever see a single fatigue-clad figure's face refusing to smile or show their bursting enthusiasm for their task.

Trust me, I have a unique perspective on the matter. My wife and I arrived at about 7:30 A.M. to get in line and were among the first 65-75 or so people to go in when the doors opened around 9:30. By the time we checked in the waiting area for Dental was already full so I opted to go wait for vision with my wife. Only then we discovered, oops, the vision gear was still en-route! Simply happy to be able to get any help at all my wife did her medical screening and then discovered we could get a special pass to return the next day for vision so I was told to that I could go on to dental.

But see, they had already filled up for the day. So I naturally figured that was that and I'd have to come back - it is first come, first serve after all. However much to my surprise I was told 'one more won't hurt, you'll probably be the last one seen anyway.' And honestly, I was. I waited patiently for about 15 hours total to finally have a military dentist extract a tooth. The whole experience wasn't anything overly fancy or complicated to be blunt. They took my vitals, did a quick x-ray and then inspected everything before numbing me up a little and - yank goes the sucker.

Yeah, I spent an entire day of waiting in a building with absolute strangers whom some of which were anything but patient or grateful. But at the end of the day I got the help I needed; no more and no less. It was worth every discomfort and I have nothing but respect for each and every soldier there. I honestly would like nothing more than to go back just to thank them, to shake their hands and tell them how much they mean to me. They will no doubt be busy and exhausted in the days to come, but then they will be also better prepared for anything that awaits them.

God bless them all, they are saints in the guise of soldiers. And I salute them for their selfless service.

For more information you can watch a short video here:

Innovative Readiness Training - Health Clinics in the Delta Region

The IRT Website can be found here:

http://irt.defense.gov/index.html  

And a local news story covered the morning opening that can be found here:

Military, medical professionals offer free health services to local community 


I cannot thank these men and women enough for all they have done and continue to do. And I can only hope that each person seen is as patient of a patient as we were. They deserve our respect, and our gratitude.