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Secretary Gates and the Wounded Navy SEAL


This is an update on two previous posts: the one in which I said that Bob Gates had been inspired by our military men and women, and the other in which I posted a sign that a wounded Navy SEAL had put on his door.

This is from a speech that Secretary Gates delivered in October, in which he refers to that Navy SEAL, one of many wounded warrior that “lifted you up.” That’s a concept that is hard to accept for those who haven’t actually visited Walter Reed or Bethesda Naval Hospital, but Gates is entirely right.

To our wounded warriors: I have been amazed by your grit and resilience. To be honest, when I first learned that part of my duties as Secretary of Defense was to visit the wounded at Walter Reed and other hospitals, I wasn’t sure I could handle it – or what I would say. Seeing firsthand the incredible sacrifice our men and women in uniform had made, I wasn’t sure I could keep it together. But people kept telling me, “You don’t understand, they’ll lift you up.”

And they did. And they do whenever I visit there and other facilities. Like the wounded officer Lt. Dan Moran at Brooke Army Burn Center who reminded me that I handed him his diploma at Texas A&M in August of 2002. He also told me he had the doctors play the “Aggie War Hymn” during his surgery. Former President Bush and I presented him with a medal for valor at half-time at a Texas A&M home football game in front of 85,000 wildly cheering admirers – the kind of public acclaim all our wounded warriors deserve.

Or Lieutenant Jason Redman. He is a SEAL – part of the Navy’s elite Special Ops team – who took rounds from a machine-gun in his face and arm in Iraq last year. Jason posted a bright orange sign on the door of his hospital room at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. It read: “Attention to all who enter here. If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20 percent further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.”


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