The following post is by Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, Commander, Naval Medical Center San Diego and Navy Medicine West and first appeared on DoDLive’s Medical Monday blog.
Marine Cpl. Michael Pride, 29, from Kansas City, Mo., joined the U.S. Marine Corps in May 2007 and was trained as a motor transportation operator. He deployed in March 2008 with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms, to serve in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). In Sept. 2008, during his final month in theater, Cpl. Pride was on a convoy in Farah Province when his Humvee was struck by an IED and rolled over, crushing his left arm and mortally wounding his platoon Sergeant.
His initial care started at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, where medical personnel feared he might lose his arm so initiated an emergency fasciotomy in an effort to save it. He also sustained an ulnar nerve injury preventing him from having full use of his hand and left arm. He was ultimately MEDEVAC’d to Naval Medical Center San Diego for treatment with orthopedic hand surgeons who closed the wound site.
On Oct. 3, 2008, Cpl. Pride transitioned to outpatient and started his occupational therapy. In February 2009, he underwent manipulation of his arm, which required forcefully bending his arm at the elbow to decrease scar tissue in an effort to increase range of motion. As part of his Occupational Therapy (OT), Cpl. Pride participated in a cooking competition at NMCSD, winning back to back taste tests judged by various departments throughout the command. Since that time, Cpl. Pride has fully healed to the point he no longer requires OT.
Cpl. Pride is a Purple Heart recipient but has never let his injury prevent him from doing the things he loves. He has participated in Adaptive Winter sports (Sled Hockey and Snowboarding) coordinated through NMCSD’s Balboa Warrior Athlete Program (BWAP) and in May 2010 was recognized as the “BWAP athlete of the Quarter.” In July 2010 he was awarded the “Your Spirit Inspires Award” by the Disabled Sports America, Far West, given to an individual who demonstrates leadership and determination throughout a week of recreational therapy. During the Paralympic Sport Camp in New Port, Rhode Island, Cpl. Pride was given the “VISA Leader of the Day Award” recognizing him for his leadership, good attitude and ability to motivate the other athletes.
Cpl. Pride’s medical rehabilitation and athleticism culminated at the inaugural 2010 Warrior Games, where he medaled in the Upper Body Injured Track and Field competition, earning the Silver Medal in the 100m sprint and the Bronze Medal in the 200m sprint.
Cpl. Pride is currently the Assistant Warrior Athlete Rehabilitation Program (WARP) coordinator and the Assistant MEDEVAC coordinator, greeting all Marines arriving at NMCSD from theater. He has successfully completed English 102 and Introduction to Humanities at NMCSD’s college on campus in pursuit of his Bachelor of Arts degree. His future goals are to reenlist in the Marine Corps and become an instructor at MOS school in Ft. Leonardwood, Mo.
This is just one example of the Wounded, Ill and Injured (WII) recovering here at NMCSD and at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. Every day I am honored and humbled by the WII service members we are caring for in Navy Medicine West and across Navy Medicine. These brave men and women, although forever changed by their injuries- physical, mental or emotional, inspire me daily.
The spirit, tenacity and determination to adapt, recover and pursue new challenges are nothing short of amazing. Whether reaching that next rehabilitation milestone such as walking on a prosthetic leg for the first time, attempting a new sport, taking on new academic/vocational challenges such as pursuing a college degree or learning a new rate or MOS, emotionally seeking the mental health care needed to conquer the traumas of war, and other such challenges- leave me truly grateful to our WII service members. All of these endeavors take courage and moral strength – these are the heroes of our time and personal heroes to me.
As 2011 approaches, I look forward to another year of healing through the expert medical care and innovative technological advances in Navy medicine to help our wounded, ill and injured service members recover. November is designated as Warrior Care month; through our various programs, NMCSD has been honored to treat 422 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airman, and Coast Guardsman since the start of Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. We provide both medical and non-medical programs that offer comprehensive and interdisciplinary coordinated care to ensure optimal outcomes for all WII patients.
The Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care (C5) facility, the Balboa Career Transition Center (BCTC), and BWAP are just a few of the many programs NMCSD provides to our WII service members. I’m inspired by our staff who, every day, selflessly serve and make a difference in the lives of these young men and women. It is an honor to serve with them. I believe in giving back to those who gave their all for our country, our fellow service members and citizens of this great nation. Caring for these heroes and their families is one way we do that. It’s why I’m proud to be part of Navy and DoD Medicine and why I serve.
THANK YOU to those who served in harm’s way and were forever changed in defense of our freedoms and our way of life. God bless each and every one of you and your families who stand by you through your recovery. Because of you, we are free.
For more information on WII resources and how you can serve those who served, visit:
U.S. Navy Safe Harbor, http://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/SafeHarbor; 877-746-8563
U.S. Marine For Life, http://www.m4l.usmc.mil/; 866-645-8762
U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program, http://www.aw2.army.mil/; 800-237-2336
U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, http://www.woundedwarrior.af.mil/; 800-581-9437