DH and I went to Walter Reed a month ago for a follow-up appointment and we met an awesome soldier and his dad. Evan was wounded in Iraq in January 2007. He's been in and out of WR for the last year. He was due to have surgery 2 days after we were there.
DH and Evan hit it off quickly - sharing war stories, showing scars from their wounds, talking about how they were wounded, etc. After a few minutes I left them to talk soldier-to-soldier. But I didn't go far...
Evan's father was quietly sitting in the room addressing Christmas cards. I walked over to him, introduced myself and asked, "So, how are YOU doing?" "Fine" he replies. Uh... yeah. I could hear in his voice he wasn't necessarily "fine" and I, too, have answered with that word numerous times when what I really wanted to say was, "My husband is in the hospital and in pain and I'm exhausted and I can't make him 'all better' and I'm away from my kids and I'm really, really sick of cafeteria food!!!"
As we continued to share our own "family member" experiences and words of wisdom, we made this connection that is difficult to describe. Sometimes we didn't even respond to one another with words... we would nod or have a "look" on our face that said, "Yeah. I know what you mean." I think we talked about 45 minutes and it was a neat experience for me.
Another thing I noticed was a laptop in the room. Not just any laptop, but a Project Valour-IT laptop (which is very near and dear to me). Evan's father said the laptop was a "Godsend" when Evan was first wounded. His hands had been pretty messed up and he used the voice-activated software to e-mail his buddies who were still deployed. And, Evan was able to take some leave and return to his duty station to see his unit come home. Amazing.
It's not too often that I have the opportunity to talk with familymembers of wounded troops. Most of the attention goes to the wounded(as it should be), but I think we (the general population) tend toforget who else is affected by a troop being wounded.