Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I don't coddle out Wounded Warriors very much

because I feel it strips them of their very dignity.

I treat them the same way I treat anyone else.

About the only thing I do for them is help them do the things they can not do for themselves, such as maybe getting over an unsurmountable obstacle or the overly sprung, hard to open door.

There are reasons for this. I refuse to take a guys man card away from him just because he lost a couple of limbs. It ain't right to do so. A guy is a guy and he's expected to take care of himself as best he can and by not busting his balls the same way I bust everyone elses, he's being robbed of his man card.

Yes, the Wounded Warrior has to put up with an old man telling him about how I had it back in the day.The poor bastard has to suffer through hearing about 40 pound muskets and three-mile long chow lines. I do this to active servicemen and recent vets, and what make him any different?

The other reason is that he generally has a long life ahead of him and he had best get used to the fact that his life has taken a very large change that he has to adapt to. The sooner he adapts, the better off he will be.

I have been criticized a couple of times for things like letting a guy on a wheel chair of on crutches hold the door for me. So it was just his turn. Big deal.My shoulders are broad.

You have to realize that these guys are not your average person. Thay are soldiers for God's sake. They are physical animals. They run, jump, do PT, play sports and things like that. Soldiers are very physical and energetic.

When they lose a limb, the very essence ot their entire life changes.

Fortunately, most of them are young and resilient and once the shock turns to anger and the anger starts to vent, there are generally two routes that tend to be taken.

Some give up entirely, at least until they figure out that life is not over, it has just made a huge change. Others simply recover quicker and accept the challenges of their handicap and realize that they can do an awful lot more than they think they can.

I have spoken with a number of thesee guys and their optimism floors me.

One of them spoke of wanting to build another race car, and was thinking of some kind of sports car, if he could learn to drive a clutch.

Quick fix.

My Tacoma was a manual and I stuffed him into it and we headed off to an empty parking lot and I put himm in the driver's seat for about an hour. The last forty five minutes was practice, practice, practice because relearning the skill with a prosthetic leg.

I opined that if the Tacoma had an old cable clutch instrad of a hydraulic, that it would have taken him aboout five minutes flat. Hydraulics sort of dampen the feeling and I think the guy was trying to learn to feel the vibrations through his titanium leg. A cable clutch would have vibrated a little more, but they have not made them in years.

There was another guy there that was new to life on his wheelchair, and I let him wheel himself as we moseyed to the chow hall together. He spoke of the door when we got there. The door at the dining place can be a little difficult.I bet him a beer it would take him more than 7 seconds to get through the door, and he accepted the bet.

Enter the do-gooders, who were not going to permit the young man to open his own door. We had to run two different people that charged in to hold his damned door off, and they seemed pretty upset with me over telling them to leave us alone.

As is often the case, someone instinctively knew what we were doing and he asked what the bet was and I told him it was over a beer. He grinned and wanted a piece of the action and then someone else jumped in and offered odds, which I took and the bet was on. It took the guy about four seconds flat and when the bets were settled, I guess I caame out a beer ahead or something.

The guy in the wheelchair in the process was the real winner inn that he had mastered the door which meant he had also mastered several more he will encounter.

The firing line was another situation that came up, thanks to a stupid 4th assistant junior trainee range officer that had no brain.

It was the Garand match. A Garand is an animal to shoot. It fire a huge, powerful 30/06 cartridge and the blast and recoil are pretty significant. Firing it from a wheelchair at best will push the shooter back, but the likely result is that it will tip the wheelchair back, leaving the shooter flat on his back.

Guys in this situation are permitted to shoot the offhand from the prone position, given the fact that they do not have legs to stand on. Shooters with prosthetic legs are required to stand, which seems fair enough.

So this idiot Range Officer insisted that this guy show some paperwork, which is stupid and I cannot stand stupid for an instant.

I butted in and told the RO that the absence of legs and a wheelchair was paperless paperwork and to let things slide, but he wouldn't listen.

I snapped at my scorer and his scorer and told everyone to trade places with me.

I told the RO I had been a gunner on Old Ironsides and that every time the man would fire, I'd just push him back into battery and let him crank another one off.

The shooter gave me a hurt look, I returned it with a deadpan wink and was rewarded with a silent smirk. He knew I was on his side. Someone else got the next RO up the food chain and he relieved the idiot and everything went back to normal.

The shooter and I later met and we discussed his future and his injuries meant that he was probably going to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he had some pretty interesting prospects for the future and was planning on going back to school.

I think the biggest thing these wounded warriors want more than anything else is not to be coddled, but to be left with their basic human dignity.

I think that generally that's more important to them than it is to recognize the price they have paid for out way of life.

Like I generally say, it doesn't take much.

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