BETWEEN THE DIAGNOSIS

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Ready for PT in Fallujah

Life is full of stressors

I, adamant about not being called disordered…

Don’t ask – Don’t tell

Leave me alone

Do ask – Do tell

For I am caught in a place in-between heaven and hell

It’s as if I am in a humvee in a small insignificant convoy…

Aimlessly driving…

The lead vehicle hit…can you say “I-E-D”?

The third and last vehicle has disappeared from my dream and in reality

So I am stuck in-between the convoy

“in” and “tween” either demolished or ousted

only I “be” left or is it right

damn politics add to my jam

“Con-Voy” – like “Em-manu-el” – without.

“man-you” alone “with” out “El” – even God

without “con” in “voy” – I am nothing!

I am in-be-tween diagnosis: PTSD – TBI

Something not right

Don’t ask me to take drugs prescribed by pharmacology

Don’t tell me I’m disordered

My stress is post traumatic

Spiritual, emotional, psychological and in-between

How about Post Traumatic Stress Disabled…or even Dead?

Part of me is dead to something about life

Something that not even suicidal death will heal

Could be a good thing – don’t know

I thought I had this “thing” beaten like my president said:

“Mission Accomplished!”

            Oops!

Thought I was unscathed

Macho and strong enough to shake it off

Told my story in a book I published

But whiney anonymous people kept speaking

Through their patriotic hypocrisy:

“Don’t tell me the truth of an unjust war. – Don’t ask me to look at my part.”

 

Yep! The lie is simple – we never learned from Vietnam, Cold War or Korea

War sucks… the life out of our given world…and for whatever its worth…me

Throughout the years war has been glorified…even if undeclared or unjustified

            O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand

            Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation

Blessed with victory and peace

May the heaven’s rescued land praise the Power that has made

And preserved us a nation…

Then conquer we must, if our cause it is just…

I be still caught in-between my founding fathers…

and the pursuit of liberty, justice and peace for all

enemies real or perceived are part of all

Throughout the years of our young nation, war has been glorified

Fight is might

Our Founding Fathers (and might I add Founding Mothers?)

handed down to us anxieties, constitution, stress, land, freedom

and making a living off war like in the sales… or aid

of weapons of mass destruction…yes, U.S…Ah!

Using, not loving our enemies

Using, not seeing how we enslave other countries to terror and devastation

I HATE WAR – War is Hell – Just ask FDR and the Memorial

Close to Arlington National where over 20 men I held are buried

The Founding Fathers didn’t find or found anything…

Except a beacon of hope

To live in peace where…

All people are not created disordered, but

All men and women are created ordered and equal

Our country we love was born of wars and glory

Our country is still seeking peace

…but we haven’t found it yet

The hope of course is in our Founding Mothers, at least in spirit…

Who will have enough of Gold Star Mothers and Fathers

Who will have enough of wounded warriors and disordered children

returned to struggle and demons and suicide

When and if we recognize that,

“War is the defeat of humanity” to quote a pope JPII of late,

If all are created equal             –not disordered, not partisan

not more or less patriotic

                                                –not even richer nor poorer

Then we have a chance of being founding fathers and mothers

of the first nation that does not crumble, disorder or collapse from within

The Founding Fathers and Mothers

encourage us to keep Amendments coming

until we find the right path to a true homeland security

and a motto, “In God We Trust!”

formed and made of inalienable rights

for all people of good will – all faiths

all Native Americans

and the rest of us all immigrants

brought here weary of oppression, slavery and lost

all enemies no more…foreign nor domestic in the post traumatic

Until then…

I be “in-be-tween” the diagnosis…like my wounded country

The brain in-be-tween the traumatic—injury.

Life is Good in GITMO Jumping in Cuba Bravo-Surgical

ron moses camarda +

***Ron served as a catholic chaplain in the fierce battle of Fallujah from October to December in 2004. He received casualties every day from 9-11 to 12-24 while at Bravo Surgical – a M.A.S.H. type Marine Medical Battalion. He personally received over 1500 casualties and 81 deaths; over 12 died in his arms. He also journeyed into the city of Fallujah many times while the battle was still raging and in the aftermath to minister the sacraments to the Marine, Navy and Army troops. He has not been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). It could be a thing of pride or maybe, just maybe, it is something much deeper and mysterious.

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Samsung

war and sleep cartoon

WISDOM of the CROSS

Pope Francis reminded me that we should expect heavier crosses as we transfigure more into the image of Christ. The more I love and walk as Jesus walked, the more I will be rejected, insulted and humiliated. Just like Jesus was, is and will be.

When Saint Ignatius asks us to meditate upon the “three grades of humility,” his aim is to lead us to this anointing in its utmost radicality; the culmination of wisdom–the Cross of Christ (Sp. Ex., 165-168).

The field of combat, so to speak, where the election of a state of life takes place, is in reality a dramatic battle-ground of desire: it is where we desire insults and contempt, or are disposed to accept them, all for the love of Christ. this is the Glory, this is the Wisdom, and this is the anointing that teaches us the way to go without fail.”

God so loved the world that He GAVE his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have life in abundance. This Christmas, I am really excited to receive a Christmas Gift from Jesus…

My gift from Jesus is a Cross fitted perfectly for me. At first I will be disappointed. Jesus will PRESENT me with this gift.

I love Jesus so much that I want to be just like him. That means I must have courage to get on the gift of my Cross beside him with my Mother looking on.

In my dream last night I met a man who was insignificant, wounded, and disabled. I was so caught up in my own ministry that I believed it was not for me to do. I didn’t have enough time to do what I needed to. I was being practical and looking at the bigger picture. But somehow I began to clean up the man’s vomit and tended to his needs. I glanced at his eyes… it was Jesus in this ordinary differently-abled man.

I am reminded that if the paraplegic was not suffering, he would never have met Jesus.

Have you accepted the gift of your sufferings today?

Accept the beautiful nail!

Accept the beautiful nail!

Seven Years since the Battle of Fallujah

I guess I have been quite negligent in this blog.

Here I am on the 7th anniversary of being in the Battle for Fallujah.
My view of life is different.
It has been tough.
It has been wonderful.
It has been a long journey.
Since I last posted, much has happened. June 2011, I was elected the State Chaplain of the VFW for Florida.
This past weekend I went to the Fall Meeting in West Palm Beach.

What I realized is that the Veterans of Foreign Wars must someday close their doors. This will only be accomplished if we don’t participate in any more wars overseas. I truly do desire for World Peace. WE MUST BE PEACEFUL first in our own families.
Can you imagine the joy if 100 years from now we would no longer need an association of war veterans? It would be a celebration.
No more Tears!
This is my dream and hope.
Just imagine!
Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron

Imagine World Peace

BATTLE FOR FALLUJAH

Battle for Fallujah

7 November 2004 Phantom Fury- Vigil

Here I am, somehow caught up in this battle in the desert. Our President believes it is specifically to conquer terrorism and the evil forces of the enemy. He truly believes God is on his side. I don’t think terrorism will ever be conquered. It is like trying to eliminate hatred. Brothers have been hating brothers since the beginning of the human race. It is part of us. God help us.

10,000 troops from the United States of America are staged here in Fallujah. We say this is a coalition force. I see American troops, some Iraqi troops but hardly any troops from other countries.

I am the Catholic priest at Bravo Surgical. I am the only Catholic priest here. The injured and the “Angels,” or the dead, funnel through here.

Surgeons, doctors, nurses, corpsmen and Marines are staged and ready. Bravo Surgical has a motto: “Cheaters of Death.” We are moving to say instead, “Ready to Receive.” We have already experienced quite a few casualties.

This whole thing is bloody and confusing. If an enemy insurgent arrives whose injuries are slightly worse than an American’s…we must treat the insurgent first. O how I want to go home, yet I am dragged into this mess. I want to run away like Jonah. I know God will prevail. I know God is planning something beautiful. I don’t fear death.

St. Ambrose: Office of Readings

“Death” in this context is a Passover to be made by all mankind. You must keep facing it with perseverance. It is a Passover from corruption, from mortality to immortality, from rough seas to a calm harbor. The word “death’ must not trouble us; the blessings that come from a safe journey should bring us joy. What is death but the burial of sin and the resurrection of goodness? Scripture says: “Let my soul die among the souls of the just,” so that I may cast off my sins and put on the grace of the just, of those who bear the death of Christ with them, in their bodies and in their souls.

Saint Paul to Timothy in his second letter (2:11-12):

Here is a saying you can depend on: If we have died with
him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer with him,
we shall also reign with him.

God was preparing me for what was to come.

10 & 11 November Phantom Fury: Al Fajr

Two Marines were in serious trouble. I had planned to go to bed but decided to hang around. I am almost deliriously tired. In fact, I may be too tired to cry. Even my tears feel dry and lonely. Gene and Joseph were in Trauma Beds One and Two. At first, there were too many people in the room. And then I saw their dog tags, both of which said, ‘Roman Catholic.’ I love the Church, especially the notion that at the moment of death, we can shout, “I am Catholic! I want my Father!” How can I be Father? I’ve not raised these boys, yet at the moment of need, they beg for strength, courage and the life of Our Father; “You O Lord! Father, Dad, Beloved!”

“I can’t do it!” I shout to God in the core of my being.
“You can do it!” God shouts back to me.

O no Jesus! They must let go of everything! I believe, I believe, I believe! But they don’t always believe. It seems they must be taught in the fleeting moments woven with terror and fear…your love. Their last contact with this wretched world needs to be love.

Gene’s friends were hovering as the docs and nurses searched for fragments of his life. However, I didn’t know they were his friends. I didn’t know this Marine was a member of Bravo Surgical just a few months ago. How would I know this? I moved away from Gene when I read his eyes…his body would no longer hold onto his soul. The tattooed dragon on his right shoulder would remain until his skin was no more, but Gene was moving forward. God promised. God is faithful. Today you will be with me in paradise.

Gene passed out after I anointed him, and I moved to Joseph in Trauma Bed Two. Joseph was the son of Monica. I encouraged Joseph to breathe in and out. Joseph was getting cold, and I stood near his head. It seemed my place was reserved, yet I didn’t understand. O Jesus, I didn’t know what to do. Somehow, I felt so inadequate, like I didn’t know what I was doing. The stones covering our hearts are so terrifyingly big.

The most important matters in my life at this moment were saying the Jesus prayer and teaching Joseph to breathe. Here I was, coaching again. I rubbed Joseph’s head, held his hand, searched for ways to warm him, and encouraged him with whispers. He was so thirsty, and I couldn’t give him anything. I desperately wanted to give him a drink, but he was going into surgery. I felt ill-prepared for this. I felt I hadn’t fasted or sacrificed enough for my prayers to be answered. The doctors cut Gene’s side to massage his heart. He couldn’t breathe, so I returned to him. My words were jumbled…they are for the living…I knew Gene would die…yet I said nothing…I couldn’t…Help me to understand!!!!!

Joseph was then moved into the operating room…and I carried things that needed to be moved, and I found myself in the room. I talked to Joseph all the way but not before seeing the doctors were letting Gene go.

I left the operating room and returned to the trauma room as Gene’s face was being covered. I rushed into the room silently saying, “No!” I held his head in my hands that break the sacred bread of the Body and Blood of Jesus…and I prayed; I don’t know what…
I prayed the prayer attached to Gene’s dog tags that also stated he was Roman Catholic:

Dear Lord Jesus, I realize I am a sinner. I repent for my sins and right this moment I receive you as my Lord and Savior. Amen. I will be strong and courageous. I will not be terrified, or discouraged for the Lord is with me Wherever I go!

I bent down and kissed Gene’s forehead. I truly loved him even though I had just met him. Later, with Mortuary Affairs Marines and with his friends, I prayed and then sang.
Into your hands O Lord, we commend the Body and Soul of + Gene Ramirez. If God is for us, who can be against us? Give us rest O Lord!

* Joseph Heredia died in Germany ten days later, on November 20. I didn’t hear the news until over a year later as I was writing this book at Prince of Peace Monastery in Oceanside, California. I really loved this kid and expected him to make it. My heart breaks for his poor mother, Monica. Please lift her up in prayer.