Heart of the Battle
Welcome to my new Blog Series entitled Heart of the Battle. This series will be a set of interviews of family members whose loved ones are suffering from illnesses incurred during their military service. This interview is with Rachel Gentle. Enjoy!
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: Rachel, who are you doing this interview for?
Rachel Gentle: My daughter, Jessica Carter. She is 24 years old and a veteran of the United States Army.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: What were some of the earlier symptoms that prompted your daughter to start receiving medical attention?
Rachel Gentle: She started having shortness of breath, wheezing, and asthma-like symptoms. It then progressed to chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). She then had to be medically evacuated, not for her lung problems, but due to an IED blast.
In addition to those illnesses, she now suffers from chemically induced asthma, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), complex seizure disorder (which stems from an injury to her frontal and temporal lobe), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and severe fatigue, just to name a few. Unfortunately, she suffers from other conditions as well.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: When and where did your daughter deploy during her time in the Army?
Rachel Gentle: She was deployed to Iraq in 2006–2007. She spent time in both Balad and Tikrit.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: Do you know what Jessica was exposed to during her time in Iraq?
Rachel Gentle: She was exposed to open-air burn pits and severe sand storms.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: How has your daughter’s health been since her medical problems began?
Rachel Gentle: She has been steadily declining since 2007.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: What can be done to prevent this from happening to future men and women of our armed forces?
Rachel Gentle: The open air burn pits should be regulated by the similar standards as if they were in this country. There should be some type of routine air quality tests performed. There should be more awareness available to the troops so they know of the dangers that burn pits pose.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: What could the military and/or the VA be doing to better take care of those who have been affected by these burn pits?
Rachel Gentle: Listen to the vet or the caregiver. We are with the veterans, so we know what us going on with them. Don’t sweep the symptoms under the rug or try to blame it on other things. For example, I’ve been told my daughter is sick because I didn’t have her tonsils removed as a child. That is absolutely ridiculous.
They need to use all resources available and conduct tests that are actually needed. Hopefully this will get them the care that is needed to possibly improve their quality of life. All veterans need to be treated as a wounded warrior that has served our country, not a discarded person that’s not needed or wanted because they can’t perform their duties.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: What can be done to inform the public about this tragedy that is affecting our military members?
Rachel Gentle: More media coverage! Stories of real life people that it’s effecting.
DanielMeyerBlog.Com: Is there anything else you would like to share?
Rachel Gentle: I want to say that it’s unfortunate the VA has been making things very difficult on soldiers. They have civilians working with them, who seem to have no patience with the veteran. They also don’t understand why the veterans get anxious and uptight while waiting in a cramped waiting room for long periods of time. They have been rude and unfortunately many veterans would rather leave than wait for their appointment or prescriptions. This is completely unacceptable! The highest care possible should be provided to these veterans, most of which have multiple issues going on with their health.
Heart of the Battle
This concludes my first interview of my new Blog Series Heart of the Battle. I want to thank Rachel Gentle for doing this interview. I will continue interviewing family members of veterans who are suffering from major illnesses or disease from their time in service. Thank you for reading and please share this article if you enjoyed it!