It was a within the first couple of weeks Chuck became disheartened. He had several people come to visit; he couldn’t shake their hand to greet them or salute those deserving. His commander from Iraq called to find out how he was and so did other concerned soldiers from all over. If the calls came in on a DSN line, he couldn’t get to the front desk to take the call. He was unable to answer a phone call or even push the button to get the nurse for help. He just yelled out as only Chuck can to get someone’s attention walking past the door. Placing a phone call was out of the question when no one was around to dial the phone or hold it for him. Besides, he did not have one in his room.
The hospital had provided three computers in a room at the end of the hall where soldiers could go to chat, email, or blog, play computer games etc. Carren and I let Chuck know about the computers, however, we knew he could not go down and use them. It was a conundrum that on a ward with amputees, severe back injuries, blindness, and the loss of hands and other severe injuries how the soldiers were to go to the room at the end of the hall and use the computers there. The soldiers with these injuries would be spending months recovering. If having a computer at the end of a long hall was to give hope and encouragement to aid in that recovery; those good intentions were more depressing than helpful. Long periods of time plagued Chuck due to the surgeries being during the day. He would spend all day sleeping as Carren and I sat by his side. Then he would be up all hours of the night alone in his bed with a TV that he could not change the channel on. If he had a book to read, no way could he even turn the page.
Days and nights washed into each other. Carren told him to dictate what he wanted to say on his blog to her and she would post it for him. We were allowed to use the computers at the end of the hall. That was helpful, however to really allow the emotional process of healing to begin he needed to do it himself and he need not to feel helpless. Carren could see beyond the misery his wounds attributed to. She knew how much he needed to be there for his soldiers and how intense his feelings were that he needed to stay connected. The question was; how was he to get to the end of the hall when he couldn’t even get out of bed to pee? Even if he could have gotten up, he couldn’t have wiped his own butt. Talk about feeling hopeless. Cannot care for others (his family), cannot help others (his soldiers) facing what seems to be an insurmountable problems lying in a hospital bed.
Carren’s tenacity of spirit came to his rescue and told him to find a solution. She is a trooper loving him through his ups and downs and also learning to deal with the unknown herself. She too had no idea where all of this physical, mental and emotional trauma would eventually lead. What Carren did know about Chuck was he wasn’t going to quit, or give up, not on her watch. She was going to do everything in her power to help Chuck see his incredible worth to those around him, to all the injured soldiers like him and those who were supporting him. So she told him to get busy and find a solution to the problem of the computer being at the end of the hall. That was all he needed to hear.
Soldiers Angels had been sending Chuck and his men much needed items from the home front to their front door in Iraq. When Chuck would receive a package from an Angel, he would ask who did not get any mail that day and have the package delivered to that person. So Chuck got busy thinking who he was going to reach out to once again. Who was there in Iraq, Landstuhl, and Walter Reed? Soldier’s Angels. Chuck did not even have a phone in his room and that changed in a matter of moments as soon as he had a need for one. He was not quiet once he knew what he needed. He was back at work by phone. Soldier’s Angels founder Patti Patton Bader reached out to provide Chuck with a laptop and within a day, it was at his hospital room. Then someone gave him a program called Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Chuck had a voice and now he could control his laptop with his voice. He was blogging again.
//As of this writing, we've only reached 27% of our goal of $100K. There are currently 136 service members waiting for laptops. Since 2005, we've provided over six thousand machines to men and women in uniform who have lost the use of their hands or eyes. Please give what you can, and please--tell your friends, coworkers, and employers. Soldiers Angels is a 501.(c)(3) non-profit charity, so all donations are tax-deductible. --ed//