OPEN LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA ON HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY “A PROMISED LAND” Part 149 PRESIDENT OBAMA THANK YOU FOR ENCOURAGING OUR WOUNDED WARRIORS!! “The service members I met were adamant that they had no regrets about sacrificing so much for their country and were understandably offended by anyone who viewed them with even a modicum of pity”

Timothy Payne, who provided this image, visited with Mr. Obama and shared a laugh.
Timothy Payne, who provided this image, visited with Mr. Obama and shared a laugh.

President Obama Speaks at the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride Event

Former President George W. Bush gives a tour of his gallery of Warrior Warrir paintings

https://youtu.be/34mx9lRXobk

President surprises wounded warrior

April 19, 2021

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066

Dear President Obama,

I wrote you over 700 letters while you were President and I mailed them to the White House and also published them on my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org .I received several letters back from your staff and I wanted to thank you for those letters. 

There are several issues raised in your book that I would like to discuss with you such as the minimum wage law, the liberal press, the cause of 2007 financial meltdown, and especially your pro-choice (what I call pro-abortion) view which I strongly object to on both religious and scientific grounds, Two of the most impressive things in your book were your dedication to both the National Prayer Breakfast (which spoke at 8 times and your many visits to the sides of wounded warriors!!

I have been reading your autobiography A PROMISED LAND and I have been enjoying it. 

Let me make a few comments on it, and here is the first quote of yours I want to comment on:

ONE AFTERNOON a couple of months after the Af-Pak announcement, I walked alone across the South Lawn—trailed by a military aide carrying the football and my veterans affairs staffer, Matt Flavin—to board the Marine One helicopter and make the brief flight to Maryland for the first of what would be regular visits to Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. On arrival, I was greeted by commanders of the facility, who gave me a quick overview of the number and condition of wounded warriors on-site before leading me through a maze of stairs, elevators, and corridors to the main patients’ ward.
     For the next hour, I proceeded from room to room, sanitizing my hands and donning scrubs and surgical gloves where necessary, stopping in the hallway to get some background on the recovering service member from hospital staffers before knocking softly on the door.
     Though patients at the hospitals came from every branch of the military, many who were there during my first few years in office were members of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps that patrolled the insurgent-dominated areas of Iraq and Afghanistan and had been injured by gunfire or IEDs. Almost all were male and working-class: whites from small rural towns or fading manufacturing hubs, Blacks and Hispanics from cities like Houston or Trenton, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from California. Usually they had family members sitting with them—mostly parents, grandparents, and siblings, though if the service member was older, there would be a wife and kids too—toddlers squirming in laps, five-year-olds with toy cars, teenagers playing video games. As soon as I entered the room, everyone would shift around, smiling shyly, appearing not quite sure what to do. For me, this was one of the vagaries of the job, the fact that my presence reliably caused a disruption and a bout of nervousness among those I was meeting. I tried always to lighten the mood, doing what I could to put people at ease.
     Unless fully incapacitated, the service members would usually raise their bed upright, sometimes pulling themselves to a seated position by reaching for the sturdy metal handle on the bedpost. Several insisted on hopping out of bed, often balancing on their good leg to salute and shake my hand. I‘d ask them about their hometown and how long they’d been in the service. I’d ask them how they got their injury and how soon they might be starting rehab or be getting fitted for a prosthetic. We often talked sports, and some would ask me to sign a unit flag hung on the wall, and I’d give each service member a commemorative challenge coin. Then we’d all position ourselves around the bed as Pete Souza took pictures with his camera and with their phones, and Matt would give out business cards so they could call him personally at the White House if they needed anything at all.
     How those men inspired me! Their courage and determination, their insistence that they’d be back at it in no time, their general lack of fuss. It made so much of what passes for patriotism—the gaudy rituals at football games, the desultory flag waving at parades, the blather of politicians—seem empty and trite. The patients I met had nothing but praise for the hospital teams responsible for their treatment—the doctors, nurses, and orderlies, most of them service members themselves but some of them civilians, a surprising number of them foreign-born, originally from places like Nigeria, El Salvador, or the Philippines. Indeed, it was heartening to see how well these wounded warriors were cared for, beginning with the seamless, fast-moving chain that allowed a Marine injured in a dusty Afghan village to be medevaced to the closest base, stabilized, then transported to Germany and onward to Bethesda or Walter Reed for state-of-the-art surgery, all in a matter of days.
     Because of that system—a melding of advanced technology, logistical precision, and highly trained and dedicated people, the kind of thing that the U.S. military does better than any other organization on earth—many soldiers who would have died from similar wounds during the Vietnam era were now able to sit with me at their bedside, debating the merits of the Bears versus the Packers. Still, no level of precision or care could erase the brutal, life-changing nature of the injuries these men had suffered. Those who had lost a single leg, especially if the amputation was below the knee, often described themselves as being lucky. Double or even triple amputees were not uncommon, nor were severe cranial trauma, spinal injuries, disfiguring facial wounds, or the loss of eyesight, hearing, or any number of basic bodily functions. The service members I met were adamant that they had no regrets about sacrificing so much for their country and were understandably offended by anyone who viewed them with even a modicum of pity. Taking their cues from their wounded sons, the parents I met were careful to express only the certainty of their child’s recovery, along with their deep wells of pride.
     And yet each time I entered a room, each time I shook a hand, I could not ignore how incredibly young most of these service members were, many of them barely out of high school. I couldn’t help but notice the rims of anguish around the eyes of the parents, who themselves were often younger than me. I wouldn’t forget the barely suppressed anger in the voice of a father I met at one point, as he explained that his handsome son, who lay before us likely paralyzed for life, was celebrating his twenty-first birthday that day, or the vacant expression on the face of a young mother who sat with a baby cheerfully gurgling in her arms, pondering a life with a husband who was probably going to survive but would no longer be capable of conscious thought.
     Later, toward the end of my presidency, The New York Times would run an article about my visits to the military hospitals. In it, a national security official from a previous administration opined that the practice, no matter how well intentioned, was not something a commander in chief should do—that visits with the wounded inevitably clouded a president’s capacity to make clear-eyed, strategic decisions. I was tempted to call that man and explain that I was never more clear-eyed than on the flights back from Walter Reed and Bethesda. Clear about the true costs of war, and who bore those costs. Clear about war’s folly, the sorry tales we humans collectively store in our heads and pass on from generation to generation—abstractions that fan hate and justify cruelty and force even the righteous among us to participate in carnage. Clear that by virtue of my office, I could not avoid responsibility for lives lost or shattered, even if I somehow justified my decisions by what I perceived to be some larger good.
     Looking through the helicopter window at the tidy green landscape below, I thought about Lincoln during the Civil War, his habit of wandering through makeshift infirmaries not so far from where we were flying, talking softly to soldiers who lay on flimsy cots, bereft of antiseptics to stanch infections or drugs to manage pain, the stench of gangrene everywhere, the clattering and wheezing of impending death.
     I wondered how Lincoln had managed it, what prayers he said afterward. He must have known it was a necessary penance. A penance I, too, had to pay.

I—

I really enjoyed this article below about your visits to the soldiers!

Obama’s sacred duty: Visiting the wounded at Walter Reed

Published Nov 29, 2016

BETHESDA, Md. — President Barack Obama stood outside the room, rubbed sanitizer on his hands, set his face into a smile and knocked on the door.

No one answered. He looked at the hospital floor polished to a sheen and knocked again. Still no answer. So Obama turned the knob and gently pushed his way inside.

“Hello? Jeremy, what’s going on?” Maj. Jeremy Haynes remembers the president saying as he came into his room at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center two years ago.

It was the first of several visits the president paid Haynes, an Army officer who was told he would never walk, feel below his waist or have children again after his spine was hit by a Taliban bullet in Afghanistan. The visits, Haynes said, “were truly inspiring to me” and gave him hope for the life ahead of him.


On Tuesday, for his 23rd and probably last time as president, Obama will helicopter to the military hospital to spend another afternoon with the wounded from Afghanistan and Iraq. The visit is likely to unfold much as Haynes and hospital officials described the ones the president paid to him.

Obama will arrive at the hospital in suburban Maryland on Marine One with a minimum of ceremony, having memorized the names of the wounded he will visit from a list he received the night before. At a side entrance to the hospital, a military aide will update him on their conditions. If he visits those still hospitalized, he will climb the stairs to 4 West and 4 Center, known as the soldiers ward. After greeting the doctors and nurses on duty, he will begin his rounds with a knock. If instead he visits the physical therapy center, he will wander one giant room filled with exercise machines and patients learning to live without limbs.

For Obama, who has served as a wartime commander longer than any of his predecessors, meeting with the wounded and their families is among the most sacred duties of his presidency. He rarely talks about his trips to Walter Reed, but his aides say that they have affected him deeply.

David Axelrod, Obama’s longtime political aide, said the president often returned to the White House from Walter Reed, first when it was in Washington and later after it had merged with Bethesda Naval Hospital, in a somber mood. After one such trip, he recalled, Obama described a young woman attending to her newlywed husband, whose body was shattered and head terribly wounded

“‘You want to be upbeat and encouraging,’ I remember him saying,” Axelrod said. “‘But they’re just kids starting out, and I looked at his wife’s face and you could see her struggling with what this would mean for the rest of their lives. It’s really hard.’ “

• • •

In his first two years in office, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged and there were many wounded, Obama’s trips to Walter Reed were three- and four-hour slogs during which he donned fresh hospital gowns and gloves outside every fifth room to see patients clinging to life days or weeks after being blown apart. He returned to the White House visibly drained, aides said.

More recently, he has done push-ups and other exercises with newly minted civilians who, instead of struggling to live, are trying to find ways of coping without arms, legs or equilibrium months and years after being wounded.

“The first term, our visits would last for hours because there would be 25, 50, 75 folks that we’d be seeing, going room to room, many with devastating injuries,” Michelle Obama, who has made her own trips to Walter Reed, said recently. “And now, today, just last week he went to visit, and he was there for 30 minutes because there are fewer of our men and women who are being injured in war.”

The afternoon excursions from the White House are in many ways the counterpoint to Barack Obama’s 15 trips offering condolences after mass shootings, when he has openly grieved with families, tears on his face. At Walter Reed, his goal has been to thank and uplift the wounded and their families, whose sacrifices he sees as almost holy and among whom expressions of grief are often unwelcome.

“If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere,” read one handwritten sign outside a soldier’s door, now framed and installed on the soldiers ward.

• • •

Reggie Love, a former aide to Obama who accompanied him on nearly all of his trips to military hospitals in the first three years of the administration, said the president was good at reading the rooms he entered. Not everyone wanted an upbeat message.

“Sometimes the people he met didn’t have any questions for him or really anything to say,” Love said. “Sometimes, they just needed a hug.”

Some of the soldiers whom Obama has visited are more grievously wounded than those seen by any modern president, as improved technology has saved people who even five years ago would have died on the battlefield. The shock of repeatedly seeing such devastating injuries can affect someone’s psyche far more than flag-draped coffins, psychologists say.

“Every time I visit Walter Reed, every time I visit Bethesda, I’m reminded of the wages of war,” Obama said at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 2011.

Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary, wrote in his memoir Duty that seeing the wounded and attending funerals took such an emotional toll that he had to resign. Critics see another effect. Over the course of his presidency, Obama has become increasingly unwilling to commit troops to wars in places like Libya, Syria and Iraq.

The visits end with Obama’s signing unit flags, books and anything else presented to him, and with a photographer taking group and paired shots. Sometimes families ask to have photos taken with their own cellphones, which Obama hands over to his photographer.

• • •

In June, Obama visited the hospital’s physical therapy room, where amputees learn to walk again. One double-amputee gave Obama a push-up challenge, and Obama promptly shed his suit jacket, dropped to the floor and reeled off more than 20. Still wearing dress shoes, he joined another in jumping onto a 30-inch box.

“I can’t even put into words how impressed I was,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Terry, known as Jae, an amputee whose photo of doing lunges with Obama is among his most treasured possessions. “I will remember that day until I die.”

Not every severely wounded patient at Walter Reed meets the president. Some miss him by chance. A few refuse because they disagree with the president’s politics.

But even some of the president’s critics say his presence ennobled their injuries and made them feel part of a larger plan.

As he buckled his two stumps into prosthetic legs at the hospital one day recently, Edward Klein, known as Flip, a now retired Army major, acknowledged that “I wasn’t a big fan of his politically.”

But, he added: “Meeting the president added a feeling of legitimacy and recognition for what I did.”

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733 everettehatcher@gmail.com

Lt. Cmdr. John Terry doing lunges with President Obama at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Commander Terry, who provided the image, said, “I will remember that day until I die.”

Lt. Cmdr. John Terry doing lunges with President Obama at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Commander Terry, who provided the image, said, “I will remember that day until I die.”

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