My first deployment was to Kosovo with Task Force Falcon, Operation Joint Guardian, in 2001. Three weeks after 9/11, I was deployed from Fort Bragg with the 274th Forward Surgical Team (Airborne) — the first FST sent into Afghanistan — for Operation Enduring Freedom. Two years later, I was part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in the initial actions of Operation Iraqi Freedom. And I returned to Afghanistan in 2011 with the 936th Forward Surgical Team and served with the Norwegian Provincial Reconstruction Team. That was my last deployment.
In armed conflict, the vast majority of casualties and injuries are the locals — the civilian population. That was true for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq back when I served, and it’s true today in countries like Syria. What’s happening in Syria with ISIS, where they’re using human shields, was very common for Al Qaeda, too.
In 2011, our special mission unit went in to get a high value target in northern Afghanistan. After our soldiers surrounded the compound, they asked the enemy to send out all of the noncombatants. As soon as all of the women and children had come out into the courtyard and our soldiers had gone out to secure them to safety, the enemy threw grenades at the entire group. So the majority of the casualties from that mission were women and children — and, of course, our soldiers were injured trying to protect the families of the men who threw the grenades.
For the past 90 years, the Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center has produced the longest continuously running charitable fashion show in the country. The Woman’s Board Fashion Show was described by Chicago magazine as a “being a philanthropic force” that serves as “a barometer of Chicago’s ever-changing fashion scene.”
Starting in 1926 with a benefit show for St. Luke’s Hospital, the fashion show continued as St. Luke’s merged with Presbyterian Hospital and then with Rush. The show has raised more than $32.6 million since it began keeping records of all fundraising efforts in 1974.
In 2016, the Woman’s Board Fashion Show will support the Center for Veterans and Their Families at Rush, an innovative effort that connects veterans and their families with specialized mental health care, peer-to-peer outreach, counseling and resources they need to transition from military to civilian life.
As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, the Road Home Program would like to deliver an expanded message to our veterans and their families. Along with the traditional message of thanking veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country, we’d like to add that the Road Home Program is there for you (the veteran) and your family.
We have seen firsthand over the last seven months since our opening, the important role Road Home is playing in the veteran community. It’s not just in the services we deliver around counseling and care for PTSD, TBI, military sexual trauma or other challenges, but in the fact that we are there for the veterans and their families.
There to listen, there to assist, there to direct and advocate for each of the veterans and their families members that come to Road Home. It is truly an honor to serve and support our veterans, and we ask our peers and friends in the Rush community to pass along the message about Road Home Program to others in your local communities.