ANNAPOLIS, Md., Dec. 28, 2014 —
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised military medicine yesterday during festivities for the 2014 Military Bowl here.
Speaking during a United Service Organizations reception at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, Battaglia said that the military medical system can make all the difference in the recovery of injured troops -- whether their wounds are visible or not.
“The state-of-the-art medicine that we have nowadays in our U.S. armed forces,” he said, “has allowed these men and women to return their mind, body and spirit to some level of optimal performance where they can either serve … in the military or serve their communities, if, in fact, they go back home.”
Sharing a Story
The sergeant major shared a story which served as an example of the level of quality care wounded service members receive.
“Since we’re in Navy country, allow me to give you a quick snippet about the team and the way our medicine is in our military,” Battaglia said.
“I was overseas at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Fisher House Foundation, [which] was doing a ribbon cutting at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital for the British,” he said.
“During the course of that ribbon cutting,” Battaglia said, “there was a Wolverine captain who approached me and said ‘Sergeant major, I am wounded -- I was fighting with the Marines in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and I’m wondering if you may know a corpsman, because I hadn’t seen him since he rescued me from the battlefield.’”
While the likelihood of knowing this corpsman was slim, Battaglia shared what the British solider told him.
“‘I really owe, forever, a debt of gratitude,’” the captain told the sergeant major, “‘and I just want to tell you my story, sergeant major, if you’ll listen.’”
The British officer told Battaglia he was shot in the abdomen and “really knew and felt that was it.”
“‘I was getting close,’” the officer said, but then, he said, “‘I finally gained what little composure I had and knew deep down within my heart I would be okay.’”
Battaglia paused, noting it was a “pretty severe gunshot wound to the abdomen, and actually, the lad was bleeding out.”
“I said, ‘What made you feel you were okay?’” the sergeant major asked. The British officer replied “‘Because I knew not too far behind me was an American medic.’”
“It just goes to show,” Battaglia said, “the care that we take of our wounded ... And I think it’s a standard that we’re all proud of.”
Thanking the USO
Battaglia also thanked the USO and other Military Bowl sponsors for hosting a tailgate and a parade where he served as Grand Marshal. The sergeant major also later participated in the coin toss.
“While you say ‘thank you’ to every serving and former serving American service member,” he said, “their reply is simply ‘proud to serve,’ because none of us look for fanfare.”
The USO certainly deserves a notable recognition, Battaglia said, since they have been quietly supporting service members and their families for almost 72 years.
“You know what they’ve done for us and continue to do for us here in the continental United States,” he told the audience.
“Without the USO, our troops and families certainly would not be as resilient as they are,” Battaglia said. “So, thank you USO from the bottom of my eagle, globe and anchor.”
(Follow Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallDoDnews)