Saturday, May 19, 2007

Healing Invisible Wounds

Soldiers' Angels in North Dakota keeps giving, even when they are home - Healing Invisible Wounds:

Just returned from a tour of war duty in Afghanistan with his North Dakota National Guard unit, Sgt. 1st Class Greg Kaiser has the typical adjustments back to civilian life, he told pastors and social workers and parish nurses Thursday.

But even more, he has a father's worry about a son, who struggled himself to adjust from a bloody tour in Iraq and now is poised to go back for a second tour.

Kaiser, East Grand Forks, took part in a seminar, “Caring for Military Families,” Thursday in United Lutheran Church downtown. About seven pastors from the community, social workers and parish nurses listened to advice on what the effect of war duty can have on soldiers, their families and the community.[snip]

Ben Lunak, USMC

Emily Custer, vocalist (no, I don't think her name is a coincidence)

One of the little aggravations for soldiers in that theater is hearing civilians say, “Well, at least you weren't in Iraq,” Kaiser said. There are fewer U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan than Iraq, but it's just as dangerous, he said. It just doesn't get as much news coverage.

“We had 150 guys,” in the 188th SECFOR unit from Grand Forks. “We lost four soldiers,” Kaiser said. [snip]

Three years ago this month, Jamie Kaiser was in a vehicle right behind his best friend, Spc. Philip Brown of Jamestown, on patrol in Iraq when a roadside bomb hit and killed Brown. Shrapnel wounded Kaiser in his right hand. He was awarded a Purple Heart.

But as Bernadette Ternes, a licensed social worker, told the pastors and others Thursday in United Lutheran, “Some wounds are not visible.”

Greg Kaiser said his son came back from war a changed man.

“When he came back, he was a whole 'nother character,” he said. Jamie was a good athlete and scholar at Sacred Heart Catholic High School, very “directed,” and focused, Kaiser said. “He came back without direction, spent a lot to time searching,” he said. [snip]

“It does make me nervous, as a dad, to hug him again at the airport, saying goodbye,” Greg Kaiser said.

What Jamie Kaiser and his father, are going through is very typical for citizens asked to become soldiers, then warriors, then come back and be regular citizens again, Ternes told the audience of about 30 that included pastors, Guard members and others.

That's part of the reason Shelle Michaels of Grand Forks helped organize the seminar at United as well and brought the “Talking with Heroes,” live Internet radio show from the Empire Arts Center on Thursday evening.

Several veterans of the war on terror spoke on the program hosted by Bob Calvert of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Paul Goodiron, father of Cpl. Nathan Goodiron, 25, of Mandaree, N.D., who was killed in November in Afghanistan, said he “felt honor” for his son by the presence of the soldiers and the idea that thousands of people were listening via Internet radio.

He said his son and all of the soldiers still there and back home “were champions of freedom.”

Read the rest here

Soldiers' Angels
Talking with Heroes

- May no soldier go unloved