His name was Chris and he was outside getting some fresh air with his mother when I met him. He is 27 years old and you can tell that he was a very attractive man before the right half of his head was blown off.
His mother is a nurse, but not in the hospital where we were. In fact, she had made her way there as she does every single day driving the two hours it took her to from where she worked the night shift. She was young and old at the same time and you could see it in her face just how scared and worried and saddened she was of her son.
She had begged him not to go and he lad laughed at her and told her she was worried for nothing, that he wasn’t at much risk for getting hurt. Six months later, he was scrambling around trying to help his fellow soldiers hold their limbs on after they were nailed by an ied and as he crouched over his fallen brothers, a bullet zipped through the air and, despite the kevlar helmet he was wearing, blew half of his head off.
Chris was in a wheelchair and he held tightly to an empty bottle of Mt. Dew which he removed the lid from, put it back on, twisted it off again… over and over as that was all he could do. He couldn’t speak, he couldn’t walk and he had had 14 surgeries to try to reconstruct his skull.
He has had no pain medication and you would assume by looking at him that he could really use some, but he is quiet and drooling and his mother doesn’t know if he is in pain or not. He is a vegetable. Why they have bothered to keep him alive is beyond me.
Chris’s mom stood and talked to me for a while that day, pausing frequently to readjust her son who was slowly sliding down in his chair and with his head flopping over. She had tried to jam him in with about a million pillows and straps to secure him, but as he was dead weight, they didn’t do much.
It was awful and I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from crying outright but the tears were welling up regardless of my efforts. The kid was 27 years old.
Chris was not the only soldier I met while there that had been seriously injured in the war. There were a lot of them in wheelchairs, hobbling around, telling me their stories. Each and every one of those stories was insane and I felt like a ghost after hearing them. I could have thrown up.
I’d had no idea that there were so many injured soldiers here at Ft. Lewis. I don’t know why I didn’t even think about it. The truth is… there are SO many and even more of them returning to us dead.
So many that they are no longer getting individual funerals as it become too costly to the military and because there wasn’t enough time to do them all. Now, once a month here at Ft. Lewis, there will be a mass funeral for all of the soldiers who have died. there names simply listed off during an informal ceremony.
This is how bad it is now. This is how much respect our fallen ones are getting. So many have died that they are nothing more than a name recited off of a fucking list.
And Chris’s mom stands there and says to me, “For what??” and all I can do is hang my head.
Please think of Chris and all of our other soldiers and their families.