Forever Changed #8: acts of love and sacrifice

Donut of misery

I know that some of you are statisticians and so this is for you. Here is an example of a “donut of misery” that reflects my time in Iraq.

Still a long way to go.I chuckle at the thought of that.

Working in the hospital and the CASF reminds me that life is so unexpected, and none of us truly knows how much more life we have to live. In the Air Force we do not appreciate fully what our sister services do for a living outside the wire. But I see them almost daily. The wounded, the injured and not all of them physically broken. There are those we call ambulatory. The ambulatory can move around under their own power. They do not need to be carried around on a litter. I still do not know who is more difficult to visit the litter patients or the ambulatory. The stories of the litter patient usually involve an IED blowing up beside them, or as one of our guys went out the other day crushing his finger in the turret of his Humvee crew serve weapon position. One guy told me how he was thankful to be alive after an IED blew up and flipped his unarmored Humvee. This guy was in the crew serve weapon position (on top of the Humvee). The Humvee landed on top of him. Nobody expected him to be alive. He told me it was a miracle of God that he was alive. I asked him if he was a spiritual person or had a faith belief, and he told me he had never taken it seriously, until now. Oh how these guys usually love to tell their story of how they were injured. Most have casts, have been operated on, and their bandages usually tell a story in themselves.

The ambulatory are difficult for me because their woundedness is sometimes much deeper. What is amazing is that every one of these, the litter and the ambulatory all tell me they want to return to their unit to finish their tour. You see, one thing I do not want you to think is that the effects of war are not worth the sacrifice. If anyone knows the sacrifice, it is these men and women. And yet they believe in what they are doing to such a degree that they not only have been wounded in preserving what they believe in, but they are willing to come back and do it again. No greater love has a man than he would be willing to give his life for his brother.

Of course when I think about it, these stories are nothing new. War is like that. We talked about that last week. I think about all the guys from WWI and WW II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and all those before them. People have always come back with woundedness that made them stronger that enabled them to do some amazing things personally. My generation will be no different.  I know in my heart that my generation is the best generation. The proof is here with me, sitting in guard towers and loading munitions on aircraft. Those who came before us have given us a legacy to follow, and I must tell you that their legacy is not forgotten or misunderstood. I am thankful for the many who came before us to fight for freedom’s cause. For all those who came before us to give us the opportunity to be here today. If there is one thing I think I could say for these men and women here right now, it is that they will not fail. I love these men and women, because their love is so great for a people they do not even know. They come here, to some very harsh conditions so that the war is not fought on American soil, like we saw on 9/11.

Some of you may be reading this and preparing to come out here, or you know that one day your AEF (Air Expeditionary Force) will come up and you may be thinking, “Do I really want to do this?” That is the question we all need to ask ourselves. How great a love am I willing to share? Am I willing to love as Christ loved (for those who don’t know, Christ gave his life for those who live in rebellion against God)? I know I have not always loved like this. I have been very selfish in my life. I am overcoming that, I have some great teachers out here. My hope is that all of us could at some point say, like the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I, send me…”

I am still getting requests from some of you asking if we need anything out here. Well, yes there are a couple of things that would be great. It is getting really hot, I mean 110-120 degrees. One thing I have found to be really popular are freeze pops. These are hard to ship because they require some care in packaging in case one or two break. I have guys who are building buildings in the heat and others who work outdoors by occupation and it would be great to go around with a freezer chest full of freeze pops.

Thanks for all the prayerful support. It is felt everyday. What you do today in prayer, God multiplies for us here. Remember those who are flying home early, those flying to hospitals around the world for care, and for those who care for these brave warriors.

ABPnews will publish one entry a week from the journal then-Capt. Charles Seligman kept while deployed to Iraq as an Air Force chaplain in 2005. Now a major, Seligman currently serves as the deputy wing chaplain for the 59th Medical Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

You can read more of his story published September 11, 2013. You can also read older journal entries from Maj. Seligman

Chuck Seligman

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