The following is an update from Dr. Jon, who is serving in Iraq. I forwarded a few questions to him, and he was very kind in answering them last week already. I am sorry it took so long to post them, but I was out of town over the weekend. If you guys want to know anything else, just let me know, and I’ll make sure Jon gets the questions.
I do ask, though, that if you are willing, you would remember Jon and his family in your prayers. Thank you.
1. As you serve there, do you have any feel for how long it might take until US soldiers are able to go home again?
Our US soldiers generally rotate with their unit every 12 months; they serve a 12 month deployment then go back to their home base if they are active duty or to their civilian life if they are reserve or National Guard.
As far as our military presence here in Iraq (and Afghanistan), my information is no more complete than what has been publicly reported. We will be here until the insurgency is ended and an elected government, supported by a loyal national military force, is able to maintain peace and stability. My sense is that this process will take years to accomplish, although I am hopeful that we will be able to decrease our military presence after the upcoming elections.
2. Could you share your opinion, or if you have facts, as to why some areas of Baghdad seem so against the US occupancy?
Although the majority of the country is stable, there remain pockets of insurgency throughout, presently most active within the Sunni Triangle. This region includes Baghdad, Falluja, Sammara, and Mosul amongst other less active areas of fighting. I do not claim to understand all the motives behind the insurgency, but I believe they are largely rooted in cultural and religious differences. Most Iraqis, I believe, simply want peace.
3. How many Iraqis have you treated? Have they all been due to results from terrorism? Are there some you treat who just need surgery as the result of an accident, or anything like that?
Most of the Iraqi patients we treat are soldiers injured in combat. Along with taking care of our US soldiers, this is our primary mission as a Combat Support Hospital. Nevertheless, we have treated many civilians--US, Iraqi, and other foreigners of all ages with a variety of injuries and illnesses. Occasionally an injured combatant is brought to our hospital for treatment. Regardless of an individual's nationality, allegiance, or loyalty, our response remains the same to provide the best care possible.
4. Can you tell us of anything you believe was maybe a miracle? Have you seen God at work there? (That one is my question). I guess what I am saying is, do you have any feeling that God is doing mighty works in Iraq.
I could relate many stories where soldiers escaped life or limb threatening injuries seemingly by divine protection. One example is a young soldier who was guarding the front gate at a small base when a mortal shell exploded only five feet away. While this would normally cause serious casualty or death, he suffered only superficial shrapnel wounds to his arm and leg.
Another example occurred when a suicide car bomber detonated alongside an armored troop carrier. The soldiers inside were protected by the armor, but the soldier working the turret (lookout/gunner hole on the top of the vehicle) was directly exposed. Miraculously, he suffered only a soft-tissue arm wound.
There have obviously been many injuries and deaths during this war, and none are insignificant. Though difficult to justify, this is the nature of war. All of our soldiers make tremendous sacrifices. With very few exceptions, they serve with utmost integrity and honor. Many of the men and women in our military forces have strong Christian faith. Living in a combat environment and faced more directly with one's own mortality tends to strengthen one's faith. I believe that God is at work in Iraq, protecting our soldiers and civilians and bringing many into His service. I pray and ask that you would join me for God's continued protection and blessings for our troops, our military leaders, and for progressive peace and stability in Iraq.