Thoughts on Healing

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By Tina Eichner

As the year 2006 comes to a close, it is natural to look back and assess the year-where we have been and where we are headed, for what we are thankful and for what we are hopeful.

Personally, the year is ending sorrowfully as my younger brother died unexpectedly in his sleep of an undetected heart insufficiency at the age of 30 in October. I tell myself that the loss is no different than the loss experienced by countless others who lose a family member on any given day, but when it is happening in your own family, there is little consolation. You try to remind yourself of all of the other fortunes in life that you enjoy, but nothing can fill the hole that has been created.

My parents have tried to find comfort in the peaceful way that he died. Each day we are reminded on the nightly news of the dramatic and unimaginable suffering of both our own military and the people of Iraq who are trapped in that horrible conflict. It is difficult to comprehend the sorrow of the people whose lives have been forever changed or taken due to the Iraq war. As we view the images and hear the statistics daily in our own homes, life here goes on.

As prosthetists and orthotists you may have had the opportunity to provide care to a veteran and see firsthand the effects of the war. Still, it is hard to imagine what it would be like to actually "be there."

This month Judith Philipps Otto takes an in-depth look at the experiences of 1st Lt. Joe Miller, CP, MS, and US Army reservist, who recently returned from a five-month assignment in Iraq, where he and his team of therapists instructed Iraqi nationals in the art and craft of prosthetics-despite the challenging conditions faced daily in that country.

The mission, conceived and masterminded by retired Col. Charles Scoville, US Armed Forces Amputee Patient Care Program manager, evolved from requests from senior leadership-level military personnel who had served in Iraq.

"These individuals had toured Walter Reed and seen what we were able to accomplish here with our amputee patients. They wondered if it would be possible to provide this level of care for our allies," explained Scoville.

The unprecedented effort is a significant step toward healing for the hundreds who have lost a limb in the midst of the fighting and brings to mind the old saying, "You can give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day; you can teach a man to fish, and he can eat for a lifetime."

We hope you enjoy this moving and thought-provoking article, and to all of the men and women working to bring safety, security, and healing to Iraq, we salute you.