Veterans’ Day

Almighty God, we commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

From The Book of Common Prayer

Not long ago, a friend who edits a neurology magazine asked me to write a profile of a soldier who had returned from Iraq with a traumatic brain injury. Such injuries, typically caused by roadside explosive devices, have become the signature wound of this war.(USA Today is on the case here, Stars and Stripes here and you can listen to an NPR piece here.) It is as if nobody just gets shot anymore, someone at Walter Reed Hospital told me in a moment of balck humor.

These injuries are particuarly challenging to treat because many of the symptoms are behavioral as opposed to “physical” in the traditional sense of that word, although obviously the symptoms are rooted in physical damage to the brain and nervous system.

The public relations people at Walter Reed, paired me up with Brian Radke, a native of the Pacific Coast who had moved to Arizon shortly before enlisting. The article I wrote hasn’t appeared yet, so I can’t excerpt it here, but Dean Baker, of Brian’s old hometown newspaper The Columbian has been following his story pretty closely, and has written excellent pieces available here and here. There’s another sweet piece about him by a Columbian columnist here.

Brian was a pleasure to meet and to talk to, very honest about the difficulties he was facing in recovering rom his multiple injuries, and able to laugh at some of his new infirmities in a disarming way. Working on the story about Brian, and reflecting on the service, of the Rev. Stuart Kenworthy of Christ Church, Georgetown, (read a letter he wrote when he was in Iraq here, reminds me that working with warriors is grace-filled work, whatever one thinks of the war they are involved in.

Please remember Brian, his wife, Nova, and his parents Dave and Lynn in your prayers today.

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