With all the high-tech methods the military has for controlling pain, pillows would seem of little significance.
But for Marine Cpl. Anthony Szekely, shot in the neck in Afghanistan, a pillow meant his neck would be supported during the nine-hour flight to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
On his flight Friday, stretchers were stacked tightly in rows of three, and Szekely’s litter was placed on the bottom rung.
“Without a pillow, you can feel pretty helpless,” he said. Having the pillow “lets you see what is going on.”
I’m a little astonished that after an entire decade of improving medical care for our wounded, it is only now occurring to some folks that a comfy pillow might have some therapeutic value.
What’s even more astonishing is that folks are having to scrounge for donations to provide pillows! Money spent on treating our wounded is money well spent. There have been routine instances of a C-17 making an evac flight from Afghanistan to Germany with a single critical case aboard. And I think that’s great. But if we’re gonna spend $50,000-$100,000 for that flight, can’t we spend a couple grand to buy some damn pillows?
I’ve never been wounded, thank God. But I did portray a casualty during a mass casualty exercise once, and was strapped to a litter with no pillow for about 3 hours. I was incredibly miserable.
Back in 1987, The Wolfhounds flew to South Korea to partake in a major training exercise with our allies. I snagged an airline pillow from the Tower Air 747 we flew over on. Tiny little thing. But having just that little pillow made the month of sleeping on the ground sooooooo much more comfortable. It was a hassle fitting it in my rucksack, but it convinced me that taking a pillow was the way to go.
There’s a fine line between hardcore and stupid. I was willing to be hardcore. Stupid? Not so much. The pillow stayed with me a looong time.