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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tasha Dillon
Medic Cares for Youngest Victims of War
By 2nd Lt. Lisa L. Kostellic
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Aug. 28, 2006 — A medical technician at the Air Force Theater Hospital here never expected to be caring for children while she was deployed. 

Although she was well prepared for her deployment, Staff Sgt. Tasha Dillon has never worked with children in a medical environment. Dillon, who works in the cardiology clinic at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, said it was her own four children that made her new role easier.

"You only get one chance to interact with the family when they come here to pick up kids, and they just want to leave, to take kids home, but they have said things like ‘thank you, we love you, America is good, you are good,"
Staff Sgt. Tasha Dillon

According to the hospital's patient administration division, the staff has treated 40 Iraqi children ages 3 months to 15 years in the past six months. Most were injured from the blast of an improvised explosive device or a mortar attack; about 15 percent were from gunshot wounds. 

About half the children who have come to the hospital during her deployment are accompanied by a parent or adult family member who also needed medical care, Dillon said. 

When the children arrive for treatment, they are sometimes frightened, but they know the doctors and nurses are trying to help them, she said. 

"This has been going on for so long. They've lived in this type of environment all their lives so they know what's happening," she added. 

Care and attention is something hospital staff members and volunteers are anxious to provide the children the moment they arrive at the hospital. 

"Once they get here and we hear about it, we go see them," Dillon said. "They feel the love. It takes away from the feeling of being afraid." 

Although Dillon has not had a lot of interaction with the children's families, she said she has received gratitude and appreciation from the few she's been able to communicate with. 

"You only get one chance to interact with the family when they come here to pick up kids, and they just want to leave, to take kids home, but they have said things like ‘thank you, we love you, America is good, you are good,’" she added. 

When the children leave, Dillon said she finds herself longing for a final chapter. 

"It's good to know that they get back to their family, but I still wonder what happens to them," she said. "It's difficult. I want to know the end of the story, but I never will." 

Maj. John Ginnity, the director of patient administration division operations, said tracking the children and their families is not easy. 

"Villages don't have phones so you can't call a family to tell them their relative is at the hospital. Even if you could, they don't speak English," Ginnity said. 

Regardless of the final chapter, hospital staff members and volunteers are committed to providing the best care for anyone who is brought to the hospital.


Last Updated:
08/28/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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