Stars and Stripes
By Dianna Cahn
Published: December 22, 2015
No one – not the top warrior nor the highest star admiral - is immune to war’s toll.
“Ever since I’ve come back it’s been like that,” McRaven said later, during a brief interview. “I’ve told one story a dozen times and I still can’t get through it.”
Chancellor of University of Texas Adm. William McRaven (Ret.), former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command and longtime Navy SEAL, gives an address in San Antonio on Dec. 1 during a federal health conference. McRaven currently serves as chancellor of the University of Texas Systems.SAN ANTONIO — The former commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command got personal during a conference of federal medical professionals.
DIANNA CAHN/STARS AND STRIPES
For most at the conference, it was an opportunity to share advances in science and medicine and the latest tools in treating the prevalent or the confounding wounds of war.
Adm. William McRaven offered up a story. He took his audience to a day in 2010 when he was at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and got word that two of his SEALs had been shot in a close fight.
McRaven ran across the road to the combat hospital and watched as the doctor struggled in vain to save each of his men. Unable to do so, the young doctor slid to the blood-soaked floor and simply wept.
A year later, McRaven met the widow of one of the SEALs and shared the details of that day. It gave her closure, she told him, to know that people who cared were present when her husband died.
The story was emotional, one told in order to drive home to his audience of medical professionals the power of compassion in medicine – even when it can’t save a patient’s life.
But in its telling, McRaven was forced to stop in his tracks and take a long pause before he could complete his story. For 10 seconds, the audience sat in silence as he struggled through his own emotions to find his voice. It drove home yet another lesson: No one – not the top warrior nor the highest star admiral - is immune to war’s toll.
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