Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Re-enlistment rates higher than before war

I saw this article this morning, and it echoes what I have seen in the Army: people are choosing to stay in:

Most of us in the Army love to complain about the Army (me included). If you've ever tried to submit a travel voucher, if you've ever had to "hurry up and wait," if you've ever had to learn a new set up acronyms, if you've ever sat at the Baghdad airport in the 100+ degree heat waiting to get on a C-130.... only to have your flight canceled.... those sorts of things... then you know what I'm talking about. The Army can be incredibly frustrating at times.

But guess what? We stay in. After having almost 6 months to reflect on my time in Iraq, I can say that I'm proud of my service. While there, I felt like we were making a difference, and now, with all of the good news from Iraq, my views seems justified.

As a chaplain, I have no contract. Officers don't re-enlist in the same ways as enlisted Soldiers. I didn't receive a signing bonus, and I don't "have" to stay in. But I am. And as the article shows, that is the trend Army wide.

Of course, if there were bonuses available right now, I wouldn't mind those either. :) But I'm staying in until either my body can't take it, or God shows me a different path, or my wife wants me out. But none of those have happened yet. I suspect my body will be the first to give out. :)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

An amazing story

I got this from my wife via email, so I'm cutting and pasting. Pretty amazing stuff:

Born at just 22 weeks - Amilla is not yet allowed home

By NICK McDERMOTT - More by this author » Last updated at 16:12pm on 22nd February 2007 A girl born after just under 22 weeks in the womb - among the shortest gestation periods known for a live birth - will remain in a hospital a few extra days as a precaution, officials said. Amillia Taylor, who weighed less than 10 ounces (283 grams), had been expected to be sent home this week. However, routine tests indicated she was vulnerable to infection, said Dr. Paul Fassbach, who has cared for the baby since shortly after she was born. "She has been fine," Fassbach said, but doctors are being extra cautious "now that she's going into the world." Video...the tiny baby who survived against all the odds
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Doctors say she is the first baby known to have survived after a gestation of fewer than 23 weeks. But full-term births usually come after 37 to 40 weeks. Amillia was just 9 1/2 inches long and weighed less than 10 ounces when she was delivered by Caesarean section. She now weighs 4 1/2 pounds. She has suffered respiratory and digestive problems, as well as a mild brain hemorrhage, but doctors believe the health concerns will not have major long-term effects. "Her prognosis is excellent," said Dr. Paul Fassbach, who has cared for Amillia since her second day. Amillia was conceived in vitro and has been in an incubator since birth. She will continue to receive a small amount of supplemental oxygen even after she goes home. Scroll down for more...
Her parents Sonja and Eddie, from Homestead, Florida, were visiting friends in Miami when Mrs Taylor went into labour at just over 19 weeks pregnant, having conceived by IVF. Doctors attempted to delay the birth but eventually were forced to carry out an emergency caesarean.
Amillia Taylor weighed just under 10oz and was only 91/2 inches long at birth
Dr Guillermo Lievano, who delivered Amillia, said he was not expecting her to survive. "I was prepared for the worst and prepared to break the bad news to the mother." Amillia responded to treatment, however. During two months in an incubator, she even had plastic surgery after her left ear was partially torn off during the delivery. "I'm still in amazement," said Mrs Taylor, 37, a teacher. "I wanted her to have a chance and I knew in my heart that she was going to make it. "It was hard to imagine she would get this far. But now she is beginning to look like a real baby. Even though she's only 4lb now, she's plump to me."
scroll down for more
Ten ounces of determination: Amillia was little longer than this pen
William Smalling, neo-natologist at Baptist Children's Hospital in Miami, said: "She's truly a miracle baby. We didn't even know what a normal blood pressure is for a baby this small." Amillia's incredible story will reignite the debate over Britain's abortion laws, which campaigners say must be updated in the light of recent medical advances.
Babies can still be aborted for non-medical reasons at up to 24 weeks. Recent evidence shows that, of those born at 25 weeks, half of them manage to live.

A New Year

Well, I started blogging again in November and... it just kind of didn't get going. There are lots of excuses, but mainly it has to deal with: a) Being really busy during the pre-Christmas season and, b) finding myself far less interesting now that I have redeployed! My blog is as an Army Chaplain, and now that I have redeployed home, there is just less to talk about.

But I've enjoyed looking back over 2007 and thinking about what has changed in a year. At this time last year I was sitting in Baghdad, excited that the new year meant I could say "I'm going home this year." Just a mind trick, but it made a difference.

I'm also struck by the change in the situation in Iraq. So much has changed that most of the political campaigns (both Dem and Rep) have moved from focusing on Iraq, to a more ambiguous theme of "change."

As I begin this year, I think I'm going to have to transition my blog to a wider focus.... from just army stuff to a more devotional focus, as well as commentary on issues. It's a trick balance. I feel compelled to comment on social and political issues, but I don't want the fact that I have "Army" in my blog name to allow comments to be construed as military endorsements. So, I'll make clear, if and when I make such comments, that they will be as a private citizen (since this is a blog, and not a military site).

Speaking of which, I've ended up in the news quite a bit lately. I feel very passionately about supporting our troops and leaving Iraq as a stable secure nation (i.e., finishing the mission). So I've been involved in the political campaigns and participated in my first Iowa caucus this month. I have sought to support a candidate who is in line with my social and fiscal beliefs, but also my views on the military. In the search, I've ended up getting interviewed and photographed a handful of times, including an interview on CBS News, by Bill Whitaker. So, it's been interesting.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm going to get back to watch the BCS Championship, hoping that Ohio State can come back from behind and represent the Big Ten well!