By lex, on July 2nd, 2007
“All gave some,” the old saying goes. “Some gave all,” it concludes. To this we now add, “Some just keep on giving“ **:
In the blur of smoke and blood after a bomb blew up under his Humvee in Iraq, Sgt. Tawan Williamson looked down at his shredded leg and knew it couldn’t be saved. His military career, though, pulled through.
Less than a year after the attack, Williamson is running again with a high-tech prosthetic leg and plans to take up a new assignment, probably by fall, as an Army job counselor and affirmative action officer in Okinawa, Japan.
In an about-face by the Pentagon, the military is putting many more amputees back on active duty – some even into combat.
Williamson, a 30-year-old Chicago native who is missing his left leg below the knee and three toes on the other foot, acknowledged that some will be skeptical of a maimed soldier back in uniform. “But I let my job show for itself,” he said. “At this point, I’m done proving. I just get out there and do it.”
The Long Island Newsday article goes on to state that formerly the Army would release an amputee from service and guide him to the VA for therapy and care. But some aren’t ready to quit the Army. And some aren’t ready to quite the fight:
Most who return to active duty are assigned to instructor or desk jobs away from combat. Only a few – the Army doesn’t keep track of how many – have returned to the war zone, and only at their insistence, Arata said. They have to prove they can do the job without putting themselves or others at risk, he added.
One amputee who returned to combat in Iraq, Maj. David Rozelle, is now helping design the amputee program at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. He has counted seven other amputees who have lost at least part of a hand or foot and gone back to combat in Iraq.
He said he felt duty-bound to return after losing his right foot to a land mine. “It sounds ridiculous, but you feel guilty that you’re back home safe,” said the soldier from Austin, Texas. “I felt it was my responsibility as a leader in the Army to continue.”
Update: In the WaPo today, retired Army Colonel Jeff McCausland asks the rhetorical question, “Who will sound the call to service?”
It’s a good question, but the one we should really ask – again – is “Who are these that have already answered the call?”
The people I had the privilege to meet had several things in common. They all believed they had responded to the bugle call, no matter how faint. None spoke of politics or party. They came even though they did not have to — no one really asked them to — and they represent but a small fraction of their generation.
They have served, suffered, sacrificed and endured. America marks a number of patriotic moments at the onset of summer — Memorial Day, D-Day, the Fourth of July. I hope most of us take time on these days to reflect on those past and present who have sacrificed. Sadly, this reflection should also remind us that this long twilight struggle will continue no matter how the Iraq war turns in the coming months.
Who are they?
Only the best of us.
** 08-10-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.