1 minute readMilitary Support, Volunteers

Four Absolutes Disproved at Walter Reed

Erin SikorskiThis post was written by Erin Sikorski, who has spent the summer in DC, working as a communications intern for the Service to the Armed Forces department. Erin is a junior at the University of Georgia, majoring in public relations.

As a summer intern at the Red Cross National Headquarters in DC, I recently had the opportunity to go to Walter Reed National Military Medical Facility to see what Red Cross volunteers do at military medical facilities. Below is what I observed.

1. Internships aren’t always about making copies. Morgan Oxenrider is a Red Cross intern in the prosthetics lab. Her tasks don’t include running errands for her supervisors, but rather working directly with them to make new limbs for amputees wounded in combat. She definitely has something significant to share with her classmates who will ask what she did this summer.

Morgan Oxenrider shapes a cast for a prosthetic leg under the supervision of Todd Slegman. Oxenrider interns for the Red Cross in the prosthetics lab at Walter Reed National Military Medical Facility.
Morgan Oxenrider shapes a cast for a prosthetic leg under the supervision of Todd Slegman. Oxenrider interns for the Red Cross in the prosthetics lab at Walter Reed National Military Medical Facility.

 

2. Celebrities aren’t always jerks. While visiting the occupational therapy unit, we met Brendan Marracco, who lost all four of his limbs in Iraq and underwent a double arm transplant. He waited patiently as we interviewed his therapist and probably cut into his appointment time. After meeting this soft-spoken man, I was told he was featured on the front page of the New York Times for his incredible story and I realized that I was the only person who didn’t already know who he is.

3. Videogames aren’t always a waste of time. We were lucky enough to see the CAREN Lab during our tour, standing for computerized assisted rehabilitation environment. This room containins an enormous videogame screen sitting behind a platform where patients directly interact with the game they are playing. The game we saw involved using body movements to navigate a boat. The CAREN Lab aids in treatment for amputees and those with a traumatic brain injury, or both. It also looks like it’d be pretty fun.

4. Age doesn’t always inversely correlate with energy. Steve Peth is a Vietnam veteran and a beloved bi-weekly Red Cross volunteer at the hospital. To say that Steve exceeds the expectations of his job description would be an understatement. Walking through the hospital with him for the whole day rendered me exhausted, and I went to bed several hours earlier than usual that night.

Volunteer Steve Peth and Capt. Bradley Ritland pose for a photo in the physical therapy unit of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Department of Rehabilitation. Peth coordinates the volunteers for Ritland’s unit
Volunteer Steve Peth and Capt. Bradley Ritland pose for a photo in the physical therapy unit of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Department of Rehabilitation. Peth coordinates the volunteers for Ritland’s unit.

For information how you can volunteer at your local VA or military hospital, contact your local Red Cross!

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