Tag Archives: haiti

Too Young…Naval Medical Center Portsmouth loses another one of Its Own

 

Lieutenant Eric W Inge, Medical Corps, United States Navy 20 August 1979-13 February 2010

Creator, Father who first breathed

In us the life that we received

By thy power of thy breath restore

The ill, and men with wounds of war

Bless those who give their healing care,

That life and laughter all may share

 From the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father Strong to Save

Today the Staff of Naval Medical Center remembered the life and work of a shipmate, colleague and friend.  LT Eric Inge passed away last week from apparently natural causes. Eric was a junior resident our Psychiatry residency program and I had the pleasure of working with him and spending time in class as well as doing some PT with him. Back in December we took a PT test together.  Though he was quiet we often talked to each other and he had a good heart, sharp wit and obviously cared for people and wanted to do his best to serve our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and their family members that he saw in clinic or on the floor. 

 He was quiet, unassuming and did not draw attention to himself. He was remembered today as a friend, a committed physician who could always be found working with his patients and who was a very good psychiatrist even though he was still early in his residency. 

 He was born at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver on August 20th 1979. He graduated with distinction from Duke University earning a degree in Biomedical Engineering. He worked in that field and then attended medical school at the University of South Florida where he graduated with his MD in 2005.  He completed an internship in Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University in 2006 and entered a Neurology program that he withdrew from realizing that his passion in medicine lay in Psychiatry.  Passing up numerous civilian residency programs he entered the Navy and was accepted into the Psychiatry internship program from which he matriculated in June of 2009 and then began his residency at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.  He served his patients, his shipmates and his country well.  He is typical of so many of our young Naval Physicians and other professionals in Navy Medicine.  Eric will be missed by his friends, colleagues and the patients that he served so well.  Please remember his mother and father, Elsa and Kenneth Inge and sister Tina in your prayers. 

 His death came as another blow to a department that has lost two other staff members in the past 7 months and to a medical center that has said goodbye to far too many shipmates in the past year.  Additionally we have hundreds of our staff deployed in harms way in Afghanistan where they are actively treating US and NATO soldiers and Afghan civilians in places like Khadahar, Camp Bastion and Bagram as well as many places too small to register in this country. Others serve in Iraq, the broader Middle East and the Horn of Africa.  Many were shipped out with only hours notice to deploy on the USNS Comfort to care for victims of the cataclysmic destruction in Haiti, which many veteran and even senior staff who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan find more horrifying than anything that they experienced in combat.  While all of these professionals deploy the staff here picks up the load.  Unlike units that rotate in and out of combat to be rested and refreshed these proud and selfless men and women of Navy Medicine go into the fight or into places of cataclysmic devastation and then return to carry on with the mission of caring for our Navy and broader military family at home. 

 Please keep all of these professionals, caregivers all in your prayers as they serve with dedication and distinction all over the world and even now mourn the death of one of their own.  I do not pretent to understand why young people like Eric die, I trust God yes, but I wonder sometimes and ask the question which has no answer “why?” I will miss Eric and trust that his soul and the souls of all the departed will rest in peace.

 Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Military, Pastoral Care, shipmates and veterans

A Global Force for Good

A Global Force for Good: A Sailor holds the hand of a Haitian Child

The Navy A Global Force For Good TV Spot

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DriBYQvG_4

“I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’” President John F Kennedy 1 August 1963, at the Naval Academy

“It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.” George Washington 15 November 1781 to the Marquis de Lafayette

“A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.” President Theodore Roosevelt 2 December 1902, second annual message to Congress

“For in this modern world, the instruments of warfare are not solely for waging war. Far more importantly, they are the means for controlling peace. Naval officers must therefore understand not only how to fight a war, but how to use the tremendous power which they operate to sustain a world of liberty and justice, without unleashing the powerful instruments of destruction and chaos that they have at their command.” Admiral Arleigh Burke CNO 1 August 1961 at the Naval Academy

USNS Comfort off of Haiti

The newest Navy recruiting and public relations campaign features a comment “America’s Navy: A Global Force for Good.”  When it first came out some expressed their dislike of the new slogan; however as a Navy and Army veteran as well as a long time “Navy Brat” I found the slogan and the accompanying commercial inspiring and I can be extremely jaded and cynical when it comes to such advertisements and slogans.  See my post Memorable Recruiting Slogans and the All Volunteer Force. http://https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/memorable-recruiting-slogans-and-the-all-volunteer-force/

Neurosurgeons from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth operating on a patient aboard the Comfort- Baltimore Sun Photo

Maybe it is because I serve with a lot of great people who make up the Navy that I think this way. I have served with the brave souls of our EOD force, the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, the crew of an elite Guided Missile Cruiser, the USS Hue City CG-66 and the professionals of Navy Medicine.  All these professionals be they war-fighters or care givers give so much of themselves to serve this country and protect others while at the same time laying their lives on the line to defend the people of the United States and others around the world.  For me this understanding of the Navy being a global force for good is relational and it goes beyond the crass cynicism of so many in the world who find little good about our nation.  I know that we have our faults but I really do believe that the good that we have done over the years and now outweighs our sins of commission and omission.  I was really offended when I saw some of the comments from some people in other countries condemning our efforts in Haiti.  I know of no other country that will empty itself to care for the people of a devastated and impoverished nation without expecting any form of repayment even while it is still in difficult economic straits.

Comfort receiving casualties- Baltimore Sun Photo

In the forefront of the humanitarian effort are my friends and shipmates in Navy Medicine on the USNS Comfort and ashore who are caring for the injured, sick and dying Haitian people.  These men and women were pulled out of our medical treatment facility and others with as little as 24 hours notice to deploy on a mission of incredible difficulty and undetermined length.  The emotional toll can be difficult as many of these professionals, physicians, nurses, corpsmen and others have deployed at least once if not two or three times to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Navy Pediatric Intensivist performs a procedure on a Afghan child

While the staff of the Comfort and those ashore toils to save lives others serve in Afghanistan running medical facilities often in conjunction with our allies.   These professionals are deployed from 7 months to a year and include some of the finest clinicians in the Navy.  Serving in Afghanistan the care for American wounded and sick, those of our NATO and Afghanistan National Army allies as well as the unfortunate civilians including children who are victims of terrorists acts, IEDs or military action mostly initiated by Taliban or Al Qaida forces.  Serving in harm’s way they see their compounds bombarded by incoming rockets, mortars and occasional artillery fire.  They also know that the vehicles that they travel in and helicopters that they fly in are targeted by Taliban forces and they care for those who are injured by IEDs on the same routes that they travel.  Having experienced this in Iraq I can say that it is a sobering and often eerie feeling that you get after you have been with Marines or Soldiers wounded by IEDs and ambushes on routes that you travel.  These men and women see the worst that humanity can do and still care about the victims.

USS Carl Vinson arrived quickly and began relief operations

Others serve in Iraq now supporting our Army troops with medical care working alongside Army and Air Force medical personnel, others are in the Horn of Africa and still others involved with other humanitarian missions or operational support of US Forces abroad.

One has to remember that these medical professionals do not just come out of a vacuum but are normally assigned to medical treatment facilities in the United States. As they depart to serve abroad those left behind continue the mission of caring for our military, their families, and military retirees going back to the Greatest Generation and other combat wounded veterans still entitled to medical care.   The workload back at home does not let up and the professionals back here work harder and longer to provide the quality care that our beneficiaries deserve. Dealing with patients and families I always hear about how much they appreciate the kindness and superior care that they get from our physicians, nurses, corpsmen and other medical professionals.

Boarding Team from USS Hue City

If you do not believe that these men and women are a “global force for good” then I am sorry that you cannot see the labor of love that these men and women provide to those entrusted to their care.  I am ashamed when I hear prominent media personalities call these “meals on wheels” missions. Personally I think it is hateful and demeaning towards the proud professionals who serve in these human tragedies and care for God’s people.  Likewise those that claim that this is being done to further US influence in Haiti are so clueless, in Haiti there is no payback even from a military or strategic point of view and even with our forces stretched thin around the world we still go out and do what no other country can do when we use our military to care for those afflicted by disaster.

In Haiti we are working hand in hand and side by with numerous Non-Governmental Organizations and other military medical professionals from the United States, Canada and other nations who are giving of themselves to serve the Haitian people.

USS Hue City 565 Feet of Naval Power on Patrol

I think that for once a recruiting phrase actually captures the essence of the Navy.  This is not about just being a better individual or improving your life or getting an education and experience.  It is about serving our nation and people as well as others around the world whether that mission is combating terrorists, pirates, protecting our vital interests or like in Haiti, or during the Indonesian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina or at the World Trade Center and hundreds of other places, this Navy is a global force for good.

Tonight as you go to bed and sleep soundly after eating well and spending time with family, friends or enjoying some form of entertainment remember those of our Navy who serve at sea, in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan, the cities of Iraq, the desolation of the Horn of Africa and around the world defending our interests, caring for our military personnel and their families and deploying to serve in harm’s way and in areas of devastation.  They are America’s “Global Force for Good.”  They are my shipmates.  They are the United States Navy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Military, national security, US Navy

Pat Robertson the Devil and Haiti

Devastation in Haiti (TelegraphUK photo)

Well just when human tragedy couldn’t get any more tragic Pat Robertson decided to get into the act. Following the 7.0 earthquake that devastated that impoverished country leveling the capital of Pot-O-Prince and killing thousands with estimates going into the 100,000 to 1.000.000 range with hurricane season approaching. Not being able to keep his mouth shut my neighbor in the Tidewater has decided to blame the tragedy on to poop people of Haiti on the alleged actions of people who lived over 150 years ago.  Robertson on his 700 Club show commented:

Pat Robertson Hears from God and Tells us about it

“They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story. And so the devil said, ‘Ok it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another….”

This is absurdity of course but something that has been spread by some Fundamentalist Christians for years.  Robertson is not alone, blogger Tom Barrett of “The American Daily” says: “Haiti is the only country in the entire world that has dedicated its government to Satan. Demonic spirits have been consulted for political decisions, and have shaped the country’s history.” Thus speaks Reverend Doug Anderson, who grew up in Haiti with missionary parents, and served there along with his wife Dawn as a missionary until 1990. The leaders of Haiti make no attempt to hide their allegiance to Satan. Haiti’s government is a government of the devil, by the devil, and for the devil.”

Unfortunately crap like this has been floating around for years in the United States among some more conservative and fundamentalist Christians for many years.  I can remember in a number of churches where former “missionaries” to Haiti spoke the same tripe.  Unfortunately this is more common than any of us would like to admit and even allegedly educated and “spiritual” people who have money and power like to spout forth such hateful and un-Christian ideology.

Of course such comments are absurd as Jean Gelen of “Black and Christian.com notes:

“Obviously, the idea that Haiti was dedicated to Satan prior to its independence is a very serious and profound statement with potentially grave consequences for its people in terms of how they are perceived by others or how the whole nation is understood outside its borders. One would agree that such a strong affirmation should be based on solid historical and scriptural ground. But, although the satanic pact idea is by far the most popular explanation for Haiti’s birth as a free nation, especially among Christian missionaries and some Haitian Church leaders, it is nothing more than a fantasist opinion that ultimately dissipates upon close examination.”

In fact the issue is less related to a pact with Beelzebub than the American and French governments of the time.  As historian Alex von Tunzelmann wrote in the Times Online in his article “Haiti: the land where children eat mud” said and I apologize for the long quote but I cannot say it better:

“History tells a different story. The appalling state of the country is a direct result of having offended a quite different celestial authority — the French. France gained the western third of the island of Hispaniola — the territory that is now Haiti — in 1697. It planted sugar and coffee, supported by an unprecedented increase in the importation of African slaves. Economically, the result was a success, but life as a slave was intolerable. Living conditions were squalid, disease was rife, and beatings and abuses were universal. The slaves’ life expectancy was 21 years. After a dramatic slave uprising that shook the western world, and 12 years of war, Haiti finally defeated Napoleon’s forces in 1804 and declared independence. But France demanded reparations: 150m francs, in gold.

For Haiti, this debt did not signify the beginning of freedom, but the end of hope. Even after it was reduced to 60m francs in the 1830s, it was still far more than the war-ravaged country could afford. Haiti was the only country in which the ex-slaves themselves were expected to pay a foreign government for their liberty. By 1900, it was spending 80% of its national budget on repayments. In order to manage the original reparations, further loans were taken out — mostly from the United States, Germany and France. Instead of developing its potential, this deformed state produced a parade of nefarious leaders, most of whom gave up the insurmountable task of trying to fix the country and looted it instead. In 1947, Haiti finally paid off the original reparations, plus interest. Doing so left it destitute, corrupt, disastrously lacking in investment and politically volatile. Haiti was trapped in a downward spiral, from which it is still impossible to escape. It remains hopelessly in debt to this day.” http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6281614.ece

One has to look at the practical implications of statements such as Robertson has not only on the people of Haiti but also on how people around the world view the Christian faith.  To his credit Robertson’s “Operation Blessing” charity has done much good, however his statements, even when retracted or clarified by his spokespeople as was done today, damage the efforts of well meaning Christians who go to Haiti not simply to evangelize but to serve and help local churches.  Additionally such statements do immeasurable harm to his fellow Christians of all types as many people who are not Christians assume that such views are characteristic of all Christians.

The reaction to Robertson’s remarks have been predicable, as usual he has played right into his detractors and the critics of the Christian faith. His words will echo far louder than all the Christian aid workers who are already in Haiti or on their way, many at their own expense.  My old training sergeant when I was in my college Army ROTC made a comment that in the Army that there were “attaboys and aw shits” and that “it took 2000 attaboys to make up for one aw shit.”  The same is true in life and in any form or public ministry. Robertson has as usual managed to drop a turd in the communion chalice and piss on Christians who care for the people of Haiti and spend their time and talent to help these good people.

Robertson’s comments ultimately that God would be so vengeful that he would punish the people of Haiti today for the alleged actions of people who in desperation revolted against harsh and brutal colonial masters over 200 years ago.  Of course this takes Old Testament judgments against the people of Israel for their sins “down to the 7th generation” or judgments on the nations surrounding Israel and applies them to current people by isogeting scripture and outside of its historic context in order to bolster crass prejudice against Haitians.  The Haitians are not viewed as people whose current situation is based on alleged “pacts with the Devil” when the only “devil” that they dealt with were the French, Americans and Germans who placed insurmountable burdens on the Haitians that when coupled with corrupt families who dominated Haitian politics for nearly a century doomed these people to the lowest standard of living in the Western Hemisphere.

Robertson and those like him only make matters worse for the Haitians and the Christians who actually go to Haiti to serve the Haitian people.  It is a sad commentary that men like Robertson who have power, money and influence over millions of Evangelical Christians use their position to posit such crap which assumes that somehow God is angry at the Haitians today for things that their founding fathers allegedly did.  I have to ask if this is so how can God ignore the sins of other powerful nations who not only through their ideology, economic policies and prejudices have exploited poor nations like Haiti for their own nefarious purposes.  The idea that somehow the Haitians are any more under God’s judgment than any other nation is prejudicial at best and demonstrates the height of historical ignorance and cultural arrogance.

Robertson as usual has stuffed his foot so deep down his throat that his big toe is almost visible from another orifice and as usual other Christians will have to deal with his statements as they strive to love and serve God and his people.

God bless those who are already on the ground and those on their way to Haiti to help the Haitian people no matter what their religious faith is or is not.  I do pray that people will do whatever they can to contribute to worthwhile organizations who will use the time, talent and treasure of those who give to actually do some good for the people of Haiti and not simply make themselves look good.

Some links are provided here:

The American Red Cross

https://american.redcross.org/site/Donation2?4306.donation=form1&idb=1696340864&df_id=4306&JServSessionIdr004=9lm1250ur1.app197a

Catholic Charities of Miami

https://secure.qgiv.com/cps_donors/?key=catholiccharitiesofthearchdioceseofmiami&restrict=Haiti%2BEarthquake%2BRelief

Samaritans Purse

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

Salvation Army

http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/www_sa.nsf/vw-news/3BA710B2E3E57078802576AA004D0ED3?opendocument

Episcopal Relief and Development

http://www.er-d.org/ERDHaiti/

UNICEF

http://www.unicefusa.org/news/releases/unicef-urgently-appeals-for.html

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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