Friday, July 31, 2009

One month down

We've been here a month, one MONTH! Four weeks ago, it seemed like the time here would crawl. Now I know how fast it really will fly, and how hard it will be to develop, source and complete projects while we are here.

One goal we all have is to see at least one project through to fruition. I realize that sounds odd, but many of the projects that are being undertaken in the region are complicated engineering projects that take months to complete and often span the deployment of two or even three PRTs (provincial reconstruction teams). What can we complete prior to heading home? We really do not know.

The process for vetting and developing projects really rests in the hands of the local populace. They—with questions and prompting from our team of specialists—nominate projects to their elected officials, who then set priorities. We take it from there and work to develop what the people want. But change will be slow, as it should be. It took the United Staters many years to become the nation it is today, and Afghanistan should not be rushed.

On another note, we had our first “medical emergency” last night. We had just finished a quick mission to coordinate some election information when one of our soldiers closed his finger in a hatch on a truck. The hatch weighed a couple hundred pounds. We were unloading the trucks when the solder's buddies, staring at his smashed finger, began calling “Medic!, Medic!” Mind you, all the soldiers are trained in minor medical assistance but the first instinct is always to yell “Medic!” His fingernail was barely hanging on, so we numbed his finger and took the nail the rest of the way off. A quick X-ray showed a small fracture at the end of the digit but this, too, will heal.

I was happy to see that our first injury was somewhat self inflicted, and the girls and I were able to improvise some supplies and make do with what we had. One of my favorite sayings here is “Dance with the girl you brought,” meaning, learn to deal with what you have. It may not be perfect but you can make it work. To clarify, we soldiers are NOT short on supplies or equipment but, sometimes, what you use at home just isn't available and you learn to adapt and overcome. Having to improvise isn't mission failure but a chance to lean on your ability to think out of the box, and it only serves to make us better medics when we return home.

Enough, I am off to bed and looking forward to another day. You never know what it will bring.

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