Written by Greg Bailen, OSI Stillwater Clinic Director:
I am writing to you all in the middle of a 10-day sandstorm. Needless to say, things are a little slow around here for training right now so I thought I would take a little time to write to you all. I wanted to write a brief article/blog about my time on deployment thus far and some lessons that I have learned and continue to learn while deployed. But first, I want to thank everyone who has offered support and reached out to me and/or my family, that is SO appreciated and it makes me feel very fortunate to be able to work at OSI. I have received some great cards and packages and it brings me such joy when I receive them and read through all the messages. I have also had the pleasure of being able to FaceTime with the leadership crew and the Stillwater team which is always a treat. Modern technology is truly great! I can remember when my cousin was deployed in the early 2000s and we were lucky to even get a 5–10 minute phone call once or twice a month from him if we were lucky and the satellite phones were working. I am very lucky to be able to call my family every day.
Life is ok here (minus the 125 degree temps which combined with the wind makes it feel like we are in an air fryer) and our unit has some great people that are fun to work with. We made it to Kuwait from Fort Bliss (Dona Ana Training Center) which was a GREAT change! The pre-mobilization process was one of the longest months we have all experienced and frankly not fun at all. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and the housing situation at Ft. Bliss we were put up in make-shift tents powered by these insanely loud generators the size of a semi-trailer in the middle of the New Mexico desert eating MREs while we prepared for deployment. This pre-mobilization site was where we went through initial processing (medical, dental, hearing, vision, finance, legal, etc.). It was also a place where we were issued gear, took classes on various topics (IEDs, drones, Muslim culture and traditions, basic Arabic, field medicine, etc.) and went to various ranges to get tested as a unit to make sure we were competent and ready to deploy. Now that we have been overseas for almost two months we are starting to get into a good daily rhythm as we carry out our mission independently (we overlapped with an outgoing unit for about 1 month). Our Company’s mission here is to provide medical support (including COVID management, isolation and quarantine) to the 1-194 armored brigade and to be ready to deploy anywhere in the area the area if needed.
Day-to-day consists of getting up around 0530, getting some of that sweet sweet breakfast chow (usually an omelet and oatmeal), going over to the combined aid station (or CAS) and seeing patients at morning sick call. We get anything from common colds to stomach illness, rashes, lacerations, etc. My job is to see and treat all the musculoskeletal injuries or concussions that come through. From sick call I will then head over to the PT clinic where we will see those that require additional follow ups or more 1:1 time. In the military, PTs usually will carry out all evals and re-evals and the PTAs will do a majority of the follow-up visits so I spend my day primarily doing evaluations and re-evaluations. Then in the evenings I work on various projects where I will look at injury trends and try to manage them on the front end (i.e. we are seeing a lot of low back and shoulder injuries so I am pushing out preventative back and shoulder exercises). I also work with the unit commanders to assess mitigate risk for training events to reduce injuries. Then we go to bed and do it all over again the next day! Throughout the week(s), we have the occasional range where we get to fire our weapons or have/host classes which helps to break up the monotony a little. Now however, like I said, we have been in a two week sandstorm so lately the training has been non-existent.
Looking into the future we hope to get out and explore other areas and there are talks of us being able to go to various cities for a one or two day pass. We also hope to work and train with other local countries and U.S. branches (Navy, Marines, Air Force) in some more complex training missions and events. Also, as I write this, I realize it is also starting to turn into a long post so I will save the second half of this blog (lessons learned) for next week so keep an eye out for that!
Again, I want to say I miss everyone, hope you and your families are all doing well, and I am tremendously grateful for all of your support and well wishes. I cannot wait to come back, get back to work, enjoy some fishing, football, smoking (meats) and bon fires! We’re over halfway there!
Below are some pictures of our time here thus far to give you all a little glimpse into our daily life!