Q & A part 1

Random Questions I’ve Received Lately…

What did you think of Walter Reed?
I was at Walter Reed for five days and I think very highly of the military staff there. The medical center seems to be staffed with people who genuinely want to be as caring and helpful as possible. They know how to deal with soldiers and soldier’s families. There was one nurse—a captain in the Surgical ICU who really went over and above with Andy on more than one occasion. He stayed late to finish certain tasks, he spoke to Andy as Medic, and he answered every question I threw at him with knowledge and compassion. He was friendly and when Andy’s buddies came in to see him and there was an awkward lull in the conversation, he asked where they were from to get them talking again. Conversely, there was a civilian employee in the med-evac office that I wanted badly to strangle. Fortunately, she was really the only negative I experienced.

Are you older or younger than Andy?
Mom and Dad have four children. I am the oldest—I’m 36. Daniel is #2 at 26. Andy is #3 at 22. Deb is the youngest at 20. I think. I have a hard time remembering the exact numbers. For years—until last summer—I thought Daniel was only 7 years younger than me. Weird.

I’m the married one, although Deb is about to be married to Matt Thorson.

Who kept your kids while you went to DC?
The boys took care of themselves…lol! No, not really. My husband Joal has a great deal of flexibility with his work, so he cared of them.

Is it “Joel” or “Joal”?
It’s spelled Joal.

Where are Joal’s parents now?
About to move to Bangor, Maine to pastor a Nazarene Church.

How long have you lived in Nashville?
9 years. We love it here.

All of your family and Joal's is Nazarene except you—how did that happen?
LOLDaddy, is that you?
Joal’s father is a Nazarene minister in Pennsylvania, soon to move to Maine.
My father is a Nazarene minister in the Dallas District.

Being the oldest, I was married and “out of the nest” before my parents converted to the Church of the Nazarene from The Congregational Methodist Church (denomination) that I grew up in. I like to point out that they abandoned me…I did not leave them. J

When Joal and I moved to Nashville, we found our church home at Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN—a wonderful place that just happens to belong to the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).

Did the Army pay for your family’s expenses to Walter Reed?
Yes and No.

Being the closest in proximity to Walter Reed in DC, I felt like I had the most flexibility in terms of the ability to drive up there with relative ease…while my parents and Daniel really needed to fly, due to the extreme amounts of time it would take for them to drive from Texas.

Andy was able to call Daniel directly from the outpost in Afghanistan where he was shot, not too long after the incident. (I think it was within the hour.) Who knew there was cell phone coverage in the hills of Afghanistan? I think Verizon should send the “Can you hear me now?” guy over there for the ultimate test. I digress.

The Army notification process moves a little slower—wounded soldier notification to family takes a day or two, and the process of transport for family members doesn’t start until much later. Because Andy called Daniel, we all knew to go on and get started preparing to go, when the Army finally came thru with their information and orders.

When an unmarried soldier is wounded, the Army provides transportation for both his parents and one sibling to wherever that soldier is receiving care. If the situation warrants it, those 3 family members will be flown to Germany to escort the soldier home. In our case, Andy was stable enough—and being flown out of Germany fast enough—that we were told to meet him in DC at Walter Reed.

The Army issued orders for transportation for Mom and Dad to fly from Texarkana and for Daniel to fly from Tyler, Texas, up to Washington DC at the Army’s expense.

The Army has a firm grasp on just how valuable it is to a soldier to have family close by during the trauma of being wounded in combat and the long period of recuperation and rehabilitation that follows. There’s more to healing than medicine. Upon their arrival, the Army issued them each a daily stipend to cover their incidental expenses and provided meals and lodging at a nearby hotel for them. This continued for as long as they were there caring for Andy.

Mom has said several times how easy the Army transportation staff was to work with—how kind they were to her in making the best possible arrangements and how considerate of her they were. Go Army.

Does Andy need anything?
Prayers. Powerful, fervent prayers of the righteous.

All his physical needs are taken care of by the Army. Well, perhaps he might be able to put a few Pizza Hut gift cards to use…but otherwise he’s good.

He is concerned about the return of his personal belongings from Afghanistan—his cell phone, his dog tags, his wallet, his iPod and his laptop are (hopefully) en route to him with a friend who is about to embark on leave. All that stuff can be re-purchased, of course, except the dog tags, but he really wants *his stuff* back. Understandably.

Did Andy get the card we sent?
He has received a-l-o-t of mail lately. I read more than 2 dozen cards to him while I was there this weekend (8-30). All cards and letters are being saved for him to read again in the future. He is grateful, (we all are) although there are some emotional issues attached to cards and letters that I think I may understand but not enough to address or explain. Please forgive me for that…I never presume to speak for what Andy is feeling unless I know for sure. Please don’t stop sending him mail. He will, I think, respond when he can.

Does Andy need money?
If you mean is there an immediate and sincere need for cash, the answer is no. He’s still receiving his Army paycheck (although in my personal completely-biased opinion, that is a pitifully small amount for what our soldiers do) and will for the foreseeable future.

How is Daniel?
Daniel is good I think. Andy and Daniel have always been very close and Daniel said to me this weekend “I’ve always taken care of my brother…no reason I wouldn’t know.”

Daniel’s ability to be with Andy so completely in all this has been another example of the hand of God orchestrating this situation.

Is Daniel married?
No, but …well I should probably get his permission before I write anymore on that topic.

Is Deb going on with the wedding?
The wedding was originally scheduled for Sept 13—during Andy’s time home on leave. The new date is Saturday, October 11 in Oklahoma City. We are hoping that we will be able to set up a video feed from the church to Andy’s room…wherever he happens to be at that time.

Do you like Deb’s husband-to-be, Matt?
Yes, very much. More so now because he was so understanding of her desire to postpone the wedding for the sake of her brother. Matt's also a friend of Andy's...

Are you diabetic?
Yes. Having Grey stressed my pancreas to it’s limits. He’s worth it tho.

When and where was Andy when he was shot?
Based on the info the Army gave us, July 17, 2008 at around 7 am. His unit was at an outpost from Fortress in the hills of Afghanistan—I’m sure he could be more specific but I can not.

How did he get shot?
I’m not 100% clear on the details and I have not had the guts to ask him directly. I’m not sure I ever will. Sometimes I want to know—sometimes I don’t. From what I have gathered from news reports and from what Daniel and Daddy have told me, the compound was coming under attack, Andy and another soldier ran up a tower to let the gunners know about the attack and where it was coming from so that they could return fire and a sniper picked Andy off.

Andy was hit by a Russian-made bullet—I think it’s called a Dushka. Daniel knows the specifics. Andy asked for the round to be saved for him…as of yet, I haven’t seen it in his things. It’s a Russian-made anti-aircrat gun used by snipers firing a "50 cal" according to Andy (I have no idea what that means) estimated to be in the neighborhood of 3 inches long. In the words of one of his docs at Walter Reed..."it's a big a$$ bullet." Forgive me.

Andy told me that he “should not have lived through taking a round that size in the neck.”--a statement to which I vehemently disagreed, although I do understand what he was saying. He said it went thru a sandbag wall before it struck him.

Is Andy regaining movement in his arms and legs?
In his arms, he is. The left arm is stronger and able to be controlled with significantly more precision than the right, but progress is being seen daily on both fronts.
In his legs, he is not experiencing any movement, which leaves plenty of room for a miracle.

Q&A Part 2 tomorrow…

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