Fintan Dooley is an honorably discharged US Army paratrooper and Syrian Arabic linguist. Dooley helps battle injured veterans and their families. Five of Dooley’s children have served in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Head injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are the signature wounds of modern warfare. The military command structure does not want to acknowledge the disabling effects of these wounds. The first point of resistance is the commander who does not want to decimate his ranks. Ironically, the second person to resist documenting the head injury or PTSD is the wounded warrior.
Friends, parents and spouses of wounded warriors ought to intervene especially when they suspect their changed loved one is psychologically injured and no longer competent or confident. Family members should not be shy about going to the top and doing so quickly. The greatest disaster is to delay and begin the record assembly process after your loved one has been discharged and stands at the end of the line with an undocumented series of head injuries. Courageous families may save their loved one’s life and assure that the Veteran’s Administration properly cares for their wounded warriors the rest of their lives.
Since 1972, Dooley has served PTSD victims, workplace amputees, catastrophic burn victims who survived despite loss of entire faces and all fingers in petroleum fires. Dooley works effectively with medical specialists including the full variety of specialists in surgery and neuropsychology.
He understands the personal effects of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder because of his own experiences and more particularly because he was hospitalized at Fort Ord, California for repair of his nose, the after effects of brawls in the barracks. His companion on the facial surgical ward was an Iowa farm boy who lost his left eye socket, cheekbone and cheek to a Russian rocket.
Dooley’s poem about that night on the surgical ward was published by the Journal of War Literature.
An Ode to the Survivors
Tears and Wails: A 1970 Night on the Ft. Ord Surgical Ward.
Tears of my sleepless fellow, I do remember.
Every night hour our nurse salved the hole under his unclosable eye.
Adonis was 20, a farm kid, an Iowa football star, loyal,
in love with his high school queen. I was 25, a lonely philanderer.
Russian rocket passed his face. Vietnam kept his eyelid, cheek and bone.
Surgeons propped his eye with gauze and jammed sticks in my fist-broken nose.
And I do remember who scorned me the brawler, our well formed
Don’t give up.
Wails let down her whispers. I saw her press his hand to her breasts.
Always believe in her love! Didn’t she say,
I promise to wait for you?
Let me tell your cheerleader!
Sure, he said, I do remember. She did promise to wait for me….
In July of 2003 a North Dakota National Guard named John Fettig was killed in a rocket attack on his Hummer in Iraq. His passenger, Brandon Erickson, survived. Brandon is a childhood friend of USAF Maj. Jocelyn McCauley Dooley Smith.
Brandon is alive at Walter Reed Hospital! His right arm is in Iraq.