Today our FST was happily shrouded in a rainy gloom; the first real rain since we arrived and it was pleasantly cooler as a result. Rain I’ve been told is a predictor of minimal insurgent activity because they fortunately would rather stay indoors immersed in slumber; no one is lowering their guard I can assure you. Fortunately for me I was able to ignore the weather outside and be productive seeing patients that were consulted to me from Charlie Company. In reality today was a cast clinic as a lot of non-surgical fracture are present here on a daily bases. Most ironically are sports related as inter-unit sporting activities are popular on the FOB. One such soldier is Sargent who was involved in a recent soccer tournament. This soldier fell during one of the many matches and fractured his wrist which required me to reduce and splint it last week; today he will be blessed with a cast, and I hope black is his favorite color because that’s all we have.
Joe J and I have been working diligently to form a relationship with local Afghan surgeons to form a mentorship program so we can improve their skills by assisting them with complex surgical cases at our FST. Not only is this a benefit for the Afghan community but it also keeps us busy which has been lacking in our lives lately. Our OGA (other government agency) friend, as well as our interpreters have been a great help over the last 2 days to start this process. At this point it looks like we will be meeting multiple local Afghan surgeons next week; details are being worked out.
Actually today was a good day to reflect on my experience here in Afghanistan thus far. This is not a one-dimensional personal and professional voyage but rather a very multi-facetted broad journey. The separation from my family has been the greatest challenge of all. As every day goes by I’m bombarded by photographic images of my children and wife that only help to grow frustration of my absence within myself. Some days can be much worse than others, especially days like today when boredom sets in from lack of motivation and activity. Thankfully ten years in Afghanistan has matured the communication a soldier can have with their family; especially with the advent of Skype. Another personal front is the interaction with the Afghan culture. Initially I was very suspicious of the natives here and to a point I still am based on past incidents the armed forces have experienced in the past, but I’m developing a self-protective mutual respect for them. We all have different religions, spiritual views, ideal’s, wants, and desires but in the end even with all of our unique layers we have the common bond of being human being. Sometimes these layers obstruct communication leading to conflict but it is our responsibility to remove each other’s layers through respect and honest perseverance for the better good; it’s not a perfect science as we all know. Finally after having time to filter through my endless daily thoughts and feelings; what’s the point of being here and what are we fighting for? I have learned quite a bit about the demented cultural and religious convictions of the specific individuals we are fighting against; there’s no sit down tea parties and the rules of engagement for humanities disagreements as we know it are forever changed. September 11th was truly a day of modern infamy for the highway we are headed down for generations to come; and we all should be fearful. As we commence this anniversary realize a sect of radical ideological persons brought hell to us in the United States. These insurgents don’t care what we believe, care about or feel, they just want us dead; we are infidels to them and genocide of our society is their intent. We are at war with an adversary that believes dying for their demented cause will give them a key to heaven; the worst quality you would want in an enemy. They hate our freedom, our moral ideologies, our respect for life and desire for peace; we are their moral enemy even though we never raised our sword in their direction. Afghanistan is a major point of this war because this is where the ground zero of the insurgent breeding mostly began after the Taliban gave refuge and protection to them; currently other states are taking up the slack since we occupied Afghanistan. This is our new reality and like it or not these fateful events really have just begun. Our being here is two sided; we brought the fighting to the insurgents on their turf with a hope it would protect the backyard our friends, and families occupy in America. In reality it has worked and if me being here protects my wife and children from these frantic ideologically sickened individuals I’ll happily stay. God Bless America and all freedom seeking right minded countries and individuals of humanity. Our sword of righteousness is raised and will only sharpen more as it is tested.