By Elaine Sanchez
Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO – FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, April 26, 2013 – When I saw the Boston bombing events unfold, my heart broke for the victims of this senseless act of violence.
I thought about how their lives would be forever altered. How the victims who lost one or more limbs were robbed, at least temporarily, of the ability to walk or run.
These are the types of injuries I see each day when I walk into work at Brooke Army Medical Center — single, double and even triple amputees striving to overcome immense challenges. They, perhaps more than any others, can relate to the devastating aftermath of an explosion and the emotional and physical pain of lost limbs. And they know firsthand the courage and strength required to heal.
Marine Cpl. Sebastian Gallegos was browsing a store in South Texas when he overheard a passerby talking about his robotic arm.
The man approached the Marine and asked him a question that Gallegos still cringes about today: “Is that a Halloween costume?”
The typically laid-back Marine immediately “took him to task,” explaining he had lost his right arm in an explosion in Afghanistan.
Due to insensitive comments like this one, the Marine now wears a jacket outside, despite the sweltering Texas heat. “I just want to avoid the stares,” said Gallegos, who is undergoing rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid.
At Brooke Army Medical Center, we’re accustomed to the sight of Wounded Warriors with prosthetic limbs or visible scars. Rather than stares or whispers, their presence evokes a deep sense of pride and gratitude.
However, as Gallegos has discovered, this sentiment isn’t always echoed elsewhere. When he’s out in short sleeves, people either stare or shower him with a torrent of personal questions that he’d rather not broach.
“It’s embarrassing,” he said. “And, to me as a Marine, it shows a lack of respect.”
These people typically see just a disability, he said, rather than a symbol of courage and sacrifice.