29 October 2008

More on the burn pit

Last month, I was driving home from the hospital, and something caught my eye as I made the turn from 90 onto 410. There to the west, a car had overturned and caught on fire. The firetruck and ambulance were already there, but what struck me was the column of smudgy smoke rising into the sky. I looked at that plume of smoke rising into the pale afternoon sky, and I was instantly transported back to Balad, trudging to work through the mud and gravel, staring at the smoke trail of the ever-smoldering burn pit. The memory was a full wave of sensation. I could smell the acrid smoke in my nostrils, taste its bitter motes in the back of my throat, and feel the teary sting in my eyes. When I bid farewell to Balad earlier this year, a glance over my shoulder was all it took to know that it would burn on after my departure.

On Monday, Army Times reporter Kelly Kennedy published a piece on the burn pit.

Although it was good to know that progress was being made to reduce the amount of garbage burned there to 147 tons/day, I hope the day comes soon when it is closed down for good. Even one troop suffering ill health effects from the pit it is too many.

If you don't recognize Ms. Kennedy's name, she is the one who was able to bring the American public news of the conditions for injured veterans at Walter Reed.

Even if you knew that, you might not know that she is a veteran herself, having served for all of us in the Middle East before establishing herself as a journalist. It is no wonder that she wants make sure that veterans get the best. They deserve no less.


Kelly Kennedy said...

Thanks Chris. And thanks for your help in getting the news out -- your guys should know you're looking out for them.


Chris said...

Dear Kelly,

Thanks for reading. It's important point to remember that we are all on the same team. Even though 1/2 of 1% of the population is active duty (and 1.5% military when including the reserves and guard), you don't have to go far down any street in America until you get to a troop's family.

Best wishes,


Ms Sparky said...

I wanted to let you know I just blogged about this and linked to your blog post as a reference. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I have forwarded it to Senator Dorgan and Congressman Waxman. Hopefully we can get this stopped.

I have been heavily involved with improving the electrical conditions in Iraq and stopping these accidental electrocutions.

If you are interested in linking to any of my Soldier Electrocution posted let me know.

Thank you for serving!

Ms Sparky

Chris said...

Ms. Sparky,

Thanks for visiting. Yes, I would definitely like a chance to learn more about the shower electrocutions. I used those showers, and at the time I blogged about how incredibly slipshod the electrical techniques were. And that work was done at a premium price. Thank you for trying to keep troops out of harm's way, especially for something so preventable.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Coppola How are you. I worked with you as a surgical tech. in Balad i came across this site because i have been looking up information on line about the pit. After having nasty bronchial infections in Balad i came home and was always getting sick. I was diagnosed last week after being hospitalized with cyclic neutrapenia. it doesnt run in my family. I am so scared Dr. Coppola. I think it was the burn pit. I wish you knew how depressed and scared i am. I have been sick alot since i been back. i just got out of the hospital and i dont know much about this disorder. I am scared. Dr. Coppola I will never forget that child with all the burns. Remember the one that was completely burned. I will never forget your face and your eyes and the frustration you had in your eyes when we had to take the burned skin off knowing there was not much we could do. You and all the doctors where so amazing . I never got to tell you but i will never forget all that you and the other doctors did. I would pray for you every night and i would have died for you because you have the knowledge and a gift to save lives. Sgt. P

Chris said...

Sgt P: I'm happy to hear from you, but it's terrible you have a health problem to deal with! Don't let fear in, go day by day and feel as well as you can. Contact me at ccoppola at pol.net if there is anything I can do for you. We will always be on the team together C