On The Road To Albuquerque, N.M. — After a solid month on the road I found myself pretty exhausted over the weekend. I wanted to find a bed (any bed would do) pull the covers over my head and hide for awhile.
The stress of the job, the travel, being away from home was adding up and I was starting to fall into a bit of a funk.
Then I met some of the guys from Brook Army Medical Center (BAMC) — mostly young soldiers who had been injured in the war. I stopped feeling sorry for myself pretty quickly.
I met Kortney Clemmons. He had his leg blown off in Iraq and still considers himself lucky. If you spend enough time at BAMC you can see why. Some of the young men have lost both legs, others such as Leandre Rice have lost their sight. No prosthetic can bring back your eyes.
Leandre told us the hardest part was that he's never been able to see his twins, who were born a month ago. That broke my heart.
On Sunday, we all went to the Saints-Falcons game in San Antonio. Leandre, who played a little high school football back in Mississippi, couldn't enjoy the game because he couldn't see it. His amazing father and, now, constant companion sat next to him trying to give him the play-by-play but was, by his own admission, no John Madden. "The red guys are running," he told him. "Now the other guys are stopping." You couldn't help but laugh.
Kortney's was a different story. He enjoyed every bit of being on the sidelines and was all smiles for most of the day. Before the game, Deuce McAllister, the star running back for the Saints, came over to say hi to Kortney. The two played high school football against each other back in Mississippi. At one point, Kortney was consoling Deuce about his knee injury, which has sidelined the running back for the season. That's Kortney though — one of the most inspiring people I've ever met.
The injured servicemen, the doctors and physical therapist at BAMC are all inspiring. They celebrate small steps together and, while they have their share of bad days, they rarely complain. Like Kortney, most feel lucky — lucky to be alive.
Today, we'll be in New Mexico. We're spending the day in a non-military town to see how and if the war is affecting people. In previous wars, sacrifices were made at home. Now it seems that it's just soldiers and their families who are bearing the burden of war.
Some soldiers — as we learned at BAMC — more than others.