Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Army surgeon general is warning that the HBO documentary "Baghdad ER" is so graphic that military personnel watching it could experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD? Got it already and I don't need to know what the symptoms are, I know them upside, downside, inside and out. As the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, it did not trigger any of that for me; I experience those symptoms every day. To see this compelling film only validated what I know or at least what I think I know about the excellent and professional care and concern given to our young military men and women when they are wounded or killed.
This documentary is introduced as a tribute to the "heroism and staff of 86th Combat Support Hospital". The Surgeon General's office also said "This film will have a strong impact on viewers and may cause anxiety for some soldiers and family members." uh, yeah.... but not like I thought. The amputation they showed was war. The blood and the wounds were war. The gallows humor in the operating room is war. The tears were real and so was the grief.
What got to me was the personal stuff. One of the patient/soldiers has the same green eyes that Ken had. It broke my heart when an injured soldier called his mom and you could hear her voice change when her world back home collided with a hospital halfway around the world. A mom never really knows what is behind the words in a phone call from the war front, so even though this soldier said he was okay, I know his mom didn't believe him.
What also touched me was the comaraderie between the staff. They will see things in that ER that we or their peers at home will never see. They will see things that will never be spoken of outside of the boundaries of Iraq, but this hospital staff will bear these scars until they breathe their last breath.
I couldn't help but wonder how different my journey would have been had Ken been wounded instead of killed. What if, what if? What if he wasn't killed instantly and heroic measures were made to keep him alive? I don't take that litle trip. It is what it is, this new normal of mine.
As the ER chaplain stood over each of his patients who died, he prayed that the "life and death of this soldier would hasten the cause of peace and end this senseless war". How could a military chaplain feel any other way?
Baghdad ER should be mandatory viewing for every person in this country. They should know that war is brutal and graphic and ugly and raw. This is not Hollywood but it is reality for over 20,000 soldiers who have been killed and wounded and their families.
Posted by Karen Meredith at 8:32 PM