In September Major Marty training at Army Medical Headquarters at Fort Huston in San Antonio attending a five day course called Tactical Combat Medical Care.
Separation from my Family and Absence from my Practice
I have never been away from my family for more than a week. I will miss my family enormously and my absence from them has already started and it is profound.
Looking Back at 9/11
There has never been a date that has meant so much to every one of us as September 11, 2001 but for obvious reasons (which I won't go into) in recent years it seemed as though public participation in commemorative events was floundering.
Deployment 6 Weeks Away
Next week is the 9th "anniversary" of the 09/11/2001 attack and in about six weeks I will report to Fort Benning, Georgia for 120 days of active duty in the United States Army on behalf of "Operation Iraqi Freedom". During my own "run-up" to this deployment people have made a big fuss over my decision to volunteer but it's not at all that simple.
Major Marty in The Republican
Martin Lesser, of Longmeadow, a family doctor with a practice in Holyoke, is scheduled to leave with the Massachusetts Army National Guard Friday for a tour of duty in Iraq.
Major Marty's National Guard Article
The Adjutant General of Massachusetts, Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter (left) and Maj. Martin Lesser of Holyoke Mass., pose for photographs following Lesser’s appointment as a medical officer in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, Jan. 11, 2009. Lesser, aged 57 years, received a waiver so that he could join the Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eric Kolesnikovas)
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
If you've never seen or heard heavy metal my opinion is you're not missing anything. On the other hand I have to be fair and say that there were huge numbers of soldiers, mostly younger ones but not exclusively young, who literally were sent into another world when they listened to this band play. Probably most of the younger soldiers were at this concert and they formed a huge mosh pit around the stage. Many of them had an out of this world look on their faces which might of been okay if the music was good. Well they obviously thought so but I can't say that I liked the music at all. On the other hand I'm not twenty years old anymore.
It wasn't especially enjoyable but I'm glad I didn't miss it.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The week is organized so that all the days blend into each other and there really is no difference between the weekdays and very little difference between the weekdays and the weekend. In fact all the military offices are open 7 days a week. I recognize that I may of lost you there but even though this is considered a war zone we do have different offices. For example, we have a base post office which is run by both containers and US Postal workers who come here as civilians and soldiers go there to mail packages etc and the post office is open 7:30am - 5:30pm 7 days/week. We also have a finance office where you go if your having problems with your pay and they are also open 7 days a week. Your pay is deposited directly in a bank and you're given a swipe card called an Eagle Cash Card. You swipe it and that will transfer some money to the swipe card and when you buy something at the PX, which is also open 7 days a week, you pay for it with this swipe card.
So you never see a check and you never see a pay stub. How do you even know if you're getting paid? You go on line and you see your virtual pay stub. The combat zone is completely digitalized and couldn't function without computers.
Holidays and religious observance is different. We do celebrate holidays and we are encouraged to celebrate our religious holidays but observances are secondary to security concerns. All enlisted soldiers are issued an automatic weapon and the officers are issued handguns which never leaves your side. My patients come to see me carrying their weapons and I'm wearing my holster and a revolver. We also carry our weapons during recreational activities and into the chapel. In these pictures the enlisted soldiers have put down their automatic weapons nearby for the picture but the officers are wearing their sidearms.
The army does want us to celebrate our national and cultural holidays and they want us to celebrate our religious holidays including the Sabbath but everything, including all observances are secondary to security. The base and the mission are functioning 24/7 and you wouldn't dream of asking for time off for any type of holiday because obviously security and the mission trumps everything else. Additionally, everything you do is primarily for the other soldier, your buddy, your unit and the whole mission. Therefore you simply would never want time off to celebrate something for yourself because that would mean that you're putting others at risk which is far worse than putting yourself at risk which is already bad enough.
Our holidays will not be remembered as having the best tasting food or having our favorite delicacies. We're not celebrating reunions with friends and family and the best we could hope for was perhaps a brief phone call or possibly a video connection through this technological marvel called skype. As you can see from these pictures I did get to celebrate Hanukkah at base and it meant a lot.
I certainly didn't get to light candles every night and we didn't get to linger around a table consuming latkes (potato pancakes) and other delicacies. I was with my troop that I'm with 7 days/week and I had to do a lot of improvisation with the holiday delicacies that my family, especially my wife Joan, had sent me.
On the other hand I got to intoduce this holiday to soldiers who had never seen a Menorah lighting before and who were intently interested and were thrilled to participate. It was squeezed into our schedule and everybody eagerly participated, and then it was back to work. I'm very grateful that I was able to get some type of a picture because we had a lot to do. If you look closely you should be able to see a small lit menorah but the real story are the faces and the expressions of the other soldiers which are realy what's important.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I never attended any of the Ultimate Fighting events that have recently become so popular and feature
both very little in the way of rules and the fighters are allowed to fight anyway they wish. Therefore when I heard that an Ultimate Fighting event was coming to Adder I assumed that professional fighters had agreed to perform. Well I had it all wrong. At this army base there are so many individuals that are eager to fight on a stage that this event is held about every 3-4 months and many contenders aren't even placed on the roster because they event can't accomodate everybody who wants to get inside the ring and fight it out. Memorial Hall was filled beyond capacity and the event was projected outdoors so the others can see.
To me they fought like professionals and the crowd seemed pleased and loved watching the young soldiers fight until one defeated the other. Apparently ultimate fighting has become a sensation and for several years they've been able to fill sporting arenas and earn a fortune in pay for view receipts. It is certainly alive and well and I can attest, it's very popular in the military.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I doubt I would ever go somewhere on my own to hear a Country & Western Performance but I do like the music and this was a great setting to watch the performance and we didn't have anywhere else to go anyway, Most of my TMC (troop medical clinic) unit went and we did enjoy it.
If you want to know more about Assron Tippin click here.
|These Thanksgiving Day Displays were set up outside our DFAC (Dining Facility)|
Monday, November 22, 2010
|This is my CHU, or Containerized Housing Unit. Notice the size of each of the three units. Mine is the one on your left. Amenities include bomb shelter and blast walls.|
Earlier in the blog I described first going to CONUS (Continental United States) Replacement Center at Fort Benning, Georgia and I included two pictures of myself along with my three bunkmates. This is a permanent structure and we were staying in a real building aka a "hard building" which means a permanently constructed building. When I got to Kuwait that base has probably been open a few years and maybe after the mission in Iraq is over it will be closed. So for the time being the set up is a large tent built over a concrete floor.
In the previous posting "This is where I Live" CHU was listed as an abbreviation for "Compact Housing Unit"
This was an error. CHU is actually an abbreviation for "Containerized Housing Unit. The correction has already been applied.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I'm staffing what's known as a Level 1 Battalion Aid Station (BAS) but in this setting it's also referred to as the TMC . This is the entry level medical facility and there is also a small army hospital, know as a level 2 in the vicinity
During a war when the front is actually changing the entire facility is packed up in trucks and can be on the move rapidly. During hostilities you don't wait until the wounded arrive you anticipate it. Ideally the the medical command is briefed as to when an offensive is going to take place and they should try to set up their BAS as close to the front as possible so that you're fully staffed and waiting for the first wounded to arrive. Fortunately, even though there are explosive devices and some firefights on the roads daily, Camp Adder & Tallil Air Force Base has a very secure perimeter and we only have to infrequently worry about rockets and mortars.
At enormous expense all building including our housing units have been surrounded with 20-25 foot high reinforced concrete walls known as T walls, which are lifted and positioned by cranes to protect against rockets and mortars. In addition to the T walls all structures have nearby bomb shelters utilizing the reinforced concrete that are also covered with layers of sandbags.
On the day I did arrive I was very pleased to learn that the army hospital has assigned one of their physicians, Dr Findlay, to staff the TMC until I got set up. When I met Dr Findlay I could immediately see that she is simply a class act and a great physician. She's an experienced army physician and one of those very special people. She has three young children including an infant and her husband is also an army physician. She has several more months at Adder but says when that's over she'll be leaving the army so she can spend more time with her children.
The day has flown by and I hardly realized that I should be taking breaks. Every day is similar and if it wasn't for all these computers and the passwords that take forever to enter I would be even more productive. Now I understand why it's called An Army of One".
Thursday, October 28, 2010
It was actually a lot of fun but we were already sleep deprived and this ordeal started at midnight and wasn’t over until noon the next day. It was stressful but it was so much fun and I wouldn’t have missed it for all the sleep in the world.