Messages Home: Notes from Alabama

August 2, 2009 by

Sister Loretta Jasper is serving as a “military life counselor” at Fort Rucker, Alabama, for six weeks this summer. This is her second “Message Home” about her time there. To read her earlier report, click HERE.

Sisters, Agregees, Associates, family and friends—

I am currently “de-steaming”, following my walk and shower. We’ve had lots of rain this past week, and thick a.m. knife-cutting fogs. If I could just figure a way to tote my towel and shampoo while walking, I’d be set.

Anecdotes re: my motel digs
— A group of about 30 National Guards from Arizona who have been staying at “my” motel left a few minutes ago. They had a week of helicopter training in anticipation of being deployed to Iraq come Oct. At least several of this group are being deployed for the first time: one indicated he is retiring upon his return from Iraq.
— One of these a.m.’s I walked into the breakfast room for a refill of coffee after my walk, into this mass of camouflage-attired testosterone eating sugar coated cold cereal and toaster-heated waffles. Get back LO-Reh-Tah!!
— Last Saturday I happened to be in the lobby when they were checking into the motel. I could tell one soldier was having difficulty breathing. His commander indicated: “Anxious about being here?” I did the chat thing with the distressed soldier. He had been to the Emergency Room: MRI, and walked out with a bucket load of meds, etc. I stated: “Sounds like pleurisy to me.” It was. He called his Physician’s Assistant Mamma who concurred. Thurs., he was fine, after another trip to medical assist, and having the right medication in hand.
— Also, one of the soldiers also staying in this motel, was walking his dog, Dizzy, a cocker spaniel (need I say more for you cocker walkers). I did the chat thing again. This soldier was trying to move toward not needing to take his trauma stabilizing medications following a rather life threatening helicopter crash some time ago so he could resume piloting a helicopter. Without wearing the sign, Dizzy was his care dog. Dizzy, was most attentive to the soldier…responded to any unexpected movements around us. This soldier is here from CO. Springs.
— One of the chaplains who returned from Iraq three weeks ago, and family leave this past Friday evening, was checking into the motel. He recognized me as one of the supporters and assisters of his welcome home gatherings from Iraq. He had been visiting in California. Familiar faces are always so important and welcome!
— This a.m. while fending the knife-cutting fog during my walk, one of the soldiers from Arizona (with a New York accent) was running. He lost our motel. I’m guessing he might have missed the van leaving for the airport, had our paths not crossed at that point. Chatting serves so many purposes in the course of a day.

Updates and anecdotes, overall:
— This past Friday, I was stopping into the various areas of support and assist my predecessors and successors will continue to tend.
I stopped into one of three chapels at Fort Rucker to leave brochures and to chat a bit. The soldier who was tending the desk provided indications of having the desk assignment due to physical and emotional challenges.
— I also visited the child development center, chatted with various staff and said hello to children. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to translate the message which accompanies the various and sundry children who come and sit beside me when I arrive.
— This past week, I met with a couple who is here due to Compassion leave from Hawaii to be near her family. Married two years, buried their 19-month-old two months ago following their 10-month struggle with infant’s illness/death. Fortunately, soldier is being reassigned as a helicopter flight instructor here at Fort Rucker vs. deployed to Iraq in order to tend to the grief.
— This coming Friday as a farewell to me, the staff with whom I share people tasks, within the same large room of cubicles will join together for cookies and milk. This is a precedence created by my first colleague here at Fort Rucker when he completed his rotation in mid-February ’09. We will be eating chocolate chip cookies made by one of the staff. Fun, huh!
One week from today, Aug. 9, I will be returning to Concordia for the greater part of August before beginning a semester length rotation in a Fort Riley based elementary school.
I will be slipping in a bit late for the (bobbin) Lacemaking Retreat at Manna.
Your prayerful support remains invaluable to me. Know that those who wish they could join me, truly are doing so.
Loretta Jasper

Comments

One Response to “Messages Home: Notes from Alabama”

  1. Bette Moslander on August 3rd, 2009 6:19 am

    Loretta, It will be good to see you here in Concordia. I am sure these “tours of duty” have been challenging and in some ways satisfying, just knowing “the dear neighbor” in a different setting. Hope you are up to “lace making” when you arrive. We look forward to seeing you. Love

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