News>Warriors with mild to moderate injuries stay near the fight
Tech. Sgt. Ryan Thompson is treated for a stomach disorder at the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group Nov. 12 in Southwest Asia. Warriors with mild to moderate injuries are being sent to the 379th EMDG where they can be treated, recover and return to duty as quickly as possible. Sergeant Thompson is deployed from Fort Dix, N.J. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Doug Olsen)
Maj. Nancy Johnson sorts through a transitional care pack Nov. 12 at the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group in Southwest Asia. The packs are designed with essential care and comfort items for those in the Wounded Warrior Wingman program. The program helps make the warrior's stay at the unit more enjoyable through mentoring and wingman buddy care. Major Johnson is the chief nurse for the 379th EMDG. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Doug Olsen)
Maj. Nancy Johnson shows off many of the donations made to the Wounded Warrior Wingman program Nov. 12 at the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group in Southwest Asia. Servicemembers are often evacuated without their gear and personal items and arrive at the 379th EMDG with just the clothes on their back. Donations include civilian clothes and toiletries such as shaving kits, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo and towels. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Doug Olsen)
by Tech. Sgt. Sabrina Foster
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
11/20/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Warriors wounded in war with mild to moderate injuries are being sent to the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group where they can be treated, recover and returned to duty.
There are seven nurses on staff, which includes three intensive care unit nurses, who deal with a lot of different injuries or medical conditions on a daily basis.
"Most of the patients that come here are aeromedically evacuated from up range," said Maj. Nancy Johnson," the 379th EMDG chief nurse. "We see a variety of injuries from improvised explosive devices, mortar blasts or bullet wounds, but the most common medical issues we deal with here are appendectomies and hernias. The Army has to carry a lot of gear out in the field and this is why these types of medical conditions are so common."
The medical goup treats both battle and non-battle injuries. Warriors are transported for surgery, or have already had surgery and are coming for post-surgical recovery or wound care.
"Most can be sent back to duty within 30 days," Major Johanson said. "The patients are our main concern. We want to get them better and send them back to duty as quickly and as healthy as possible."
Not only are the patients getting support from the medical staff here, they are also receiving support from all over the world.
"A lot of times the patients come in here with nothing but the hospital gown they're wearing," said Major Johnson. "We get donations from all over the world from folks and organizations that support the war and the wounded. We receive shoes, uniforms, clothes, toiletries and more. We can't thank them enough for their support."
While the patients are here receiving care, they sometimes get bored, said staff members.
"The average stay for a wounded warrior is about two and a half weeks. There are currently 35 patients in the intra-theater care program, but that number can fluctuate daily," said Master Sgt. Paul Martin, the 379th EMDG first sergeant.
Volunteers can visit the ward through the Wounded Warrior Wingman program to help make a patient's stay here a little more enjoyable.
Sergeant Martin said the WWW program serves two purposes.
"The first purpose of the program is to make the warrior's stay here as comfortable as possible. Most of them come here alone, without their buddies, so we warmly receive them to the base," Sergeant Martin said. "Volunteers may come over and talk to them, take them off base or on tours of unique job sites around the base.
"The second purpose of the program is to provide an outlet for the warriors to share their experiences," said Sergeant Martin. "This gives them a forum to open up about things they may be going through because of their injury or just someone to keep them company. The unique experiences each wounded warrior conveys usually opens the eyes of anyone willing to listen. A young wounded soldier can teach even a veteran Airman the true hardships of war," he said.
Army Spec. James Decker has been here for one week and hopes he only has one more week before he can return to duty.
The 21-year-old, combat engineer from Houston, Texas, recalled the day he was injured in Iraq.
"The day started out like any other day," said Specialist Decker. "We (me and two other soldiers), were standing outside the barracks before heading to guard duty when a mortar came in and hit the barracks next to us; we were about 10 meters away. I didn't hear it, but I saw the flash and it knocked me off my feet. I jumped up and ran inside the building to help the people inside when I was told by a medic that I was bleeding pretty badly. I didn't even know I had gotten hit," he said.
Specialist Decker was injured by a piece of shrapnel in his right forearm. He had surgery at the hospital at Balad Air Base, Iraq, and was sent to the 379th EMG for wound care. The two other soldiers that were with him were injured as well. One is receiving treatment here and the other was flown to Germany for treatment.
Specialist Decker said the recovery process is going well and has no reservations about returning to duty after his injury.
"I'm just ready to get back to my unit. I had been in Iraq for 14 months before I got hit and only had six weeks left," he said. "Once I return, we should only have about two weeks before we head back home to Fort Carson, Colo."
"The patients that come through here are true warriors," Sergeant Martin said. "More than ninety-nine percent of them feel guilty about being here -- they just want to get better and get back to their units despite facing the horrors of war."
From the battle field to treatment and recovery, the 379th EMDG is doing their part to keep warriors in the fight.