Miriam’s Story in Houston

After our rescue mission to Houston, I reflected on all we had accomplished and all the people we had helped. One instance that really stood out to me involved a U.S. soldier. The American Red Cross had integrated our team as part of the triage process and this soldier approached me with a bruise on his foot. He was unable to walk to the nearest hospital and asked me to bandage it. I examined his foot, applied antiseptic, bandaged it and wished him well. Ten minutes later, he returned saying that the bandage felt funny. I removed the bandage, once again examined his foot, applied a new bandage and said good bye. Another ten minutes passed before I noticed him walk back towards me, albeit a bit embarrassed and apprehensive. I saw the look on his face and asked him “Would you like to talk?”
Almost instantly, he broke down, sobbing uncontrollably. He told us how he heard that we also help people not only with physical injuries but emotional injuries as well. He told us how he had been working non- stop for 5 days and that 3 of those days he has been working in wet boots. He felt as if no one cared and that he was falling apart. In addition, this mission caused him to relive past traumas during search and rescue missions in which he was unsuccessful in saving people. I took him aside and worked with him to reframe his interpretations of past rescue missions and used different techniques to emotionally stabilize him. I emphasized the need of self-care and wrote a recommendation to his commanding officer for further psychological treatment as well as a short leave. By the time he left, I could see he was a different person. The soldier who initially approached me was full of guilt and completely physically and emotionally depleted. The soldier I said good bye to at the end of the day was one that felt supported, cared for and had a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

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