American Soldiers: People Helping People

April 13, 2009

The media has filled our television screens with visions of war in Iraq. Most of the times, what they show us isn’t pretty, nor is if very often favorable to our Troops. Often our Soldiers are portrayed in a less than favorable light and made to appear as if they’re nothing more than a rag tag bunch of blood hungry hoodlums. They never tire of telling us about the bad things that happen and often seem to be attempting to portray all of our Troops in a bad light, when in reality it’s only a few who do bad things. The media never fails to pick up on the occasional instance of one of our military members doing the wrong thing while they’re deployed, yet they rarely tell us about all of the wonderful humanitarian things that our Troops accomplish on a daily basis. In fact, I’d venture to bet that those instances far outweigh the instances of wrong doing by our soldiers. I’d like to introduce our readers to one Army Reserve Soldier who is going above and beyond to help an Iraqi citizen who is in desperate need of a lifesaving operation.

Shadia is a 30 Iraqi female who serves as a security guard at the entrance to the Abu Ghraib warehouse. Because of fears that her life might be in danger, her last name and photos can’t be released. Shadia is employed by a security company and her job is to search any women who come to the entry point of the 58 acre warehouse site. Her job is an important one, as she and others like her work hard to ensure that the 1500 people at the site are safe form suicide bombers and others who would possibly attack them. Shadia works hard to provide for her family. Out of 8 children, she is the only one working. Without lifesaving surgery though, Shadia may not be able to continue to support her family.

Shadia has a tumor that is pressing against her brain and the optical nerve. When the tumor was diagnosed, Iraqi doctors said that they were unable to perform the surgery she needed. One man, Col. Thomas Cain, commander of the warehouse site couldn’t just sit back and do nothing, allowing her to die. So he began searching for someone who was willing to help.


Col. Cain was very determined that he was going to do whatever he could to ensure that Shadia got the surgery she needed. After making hundreds of phone calls and more than 40 requests, he finally got an affirmative answer from a hospital in Tennessee. Once she has obtained her medical visa, then a neurosurgeon in Tennessee will remove the tumor.

“She is my first line of defense,” said Col. Cain. “She was brave enough to come out here every day. There’s huge risks.”1

Unfortunately, in Iraq, those who work with American and coalition forces, often find themselves in danger from al Qaida and others in their country. Because Shadia is a woman, she’s at even greater risk. Many of their fellow Iraqis have been killed when it was discovered that they were working with or for the coalition forces.
Col. Cain explained how it was discovered that Shadia had the tumor in her brain. One day about 6 months ago, she collapsed at work. The Iraqi doctor wasn’t there that day, so US military doctors checked her instead. They discovered a tumor that was at the time, about the size of a quarter. She’s apparently suffered symptoms from this tumor for about 6 years. The tumor is located in such a place that it’s crushing her optic nerve and has caused blindness in one of her eyes. Now she’s also losing sight in her other eye.

“Every day this thing is growing. It’s putting pressure on her brain,” said Cain.2

While the danger from the tumor wasn’t immediately life threatening, the news nonetheless, wasn’t good news. Doctors said that in order for Shadia to survive, she would need brain surgery. If left in place, blindness is inevitable and death is probably. Appeals to the Iraqi government did no good.

“Her government said they didn’t have the budget,” Cain said. “The problem is, this girls out of time. Something has to be done right now or she’s going to lose her life.”3

Not willing to just sit back and watch Shadia die, col. Cain decided that he would do everything within his power to find someone who was willing to help Shadia. He immediately started calling doctors in the US and other countries. Surprising to Cain, was the fact that almost every doctor that he talked to said they were wiling to do the surgery free of charge. Finding a hospital that was willing to do the same, wasn’t near as easy and on the approximately $800 a month that Shadia makes, she wouldn’t be able to pay those hospital bills anytime soon, considering she’s supporting her entire family. Col. Cain estimated that hospital fees for the surgery and aftercare, could top a half million dollars.

Needless to say, when the hospital in Tennessee agreed to do the surgery free of charge, Cain was excited. So much so that he did a touchdown dance in his office. Since then, there have been offers from 3 other hospitals in the US. While she waits for the paperwork that will enable her to fly to the US for her surgery, Shadia keeps busy learning English so that she’ll be able to communicate more easily with staff during the 15 hour flight as well as staff at the hospital.

Cain and his wife Deedy planned to pay for Shadia’s flight out of their own pockets, but they won’t have to do so, as the company that Shadia works for, has agreed to pay for her air fare, as well as her salary while she’s recovering from her surgery. Though the surgery is risky, Shadia is excited at the prospect at the second chance on life that she’s being given.

“She knew she was in bad shape. She knew she was really sick and nobody was helping her,” Cain said. “Through an interpreter, she told me, ‘You’re the only one who cares. Period.’”4

Deedy Cain is of course, extremely proud of what her husband has done to help Shadia. I think that Mrs. Cain summed it up best, when speaking about our Troops and the job that they’re doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries around the globe.

“They’re not just over there at war. They’re over there trying to help,” she said. “American soldiers are trying to better the lives of people who are over there, and make their lives better.”5

As I researched this story, I was amazed to find only a few small references to it in the media. While that doesn’t surprise me, it does upset me that our Troops aren’t given the credit for the positive things that they’re accomplishing, sometimes at their own expense.

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3 Responses to “American Soldiers: People Helping People”

  1. Pages tagged "venture" on April 13th, 2009 3:49 pm

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  2. Roman_Arch on April 19th, 2009 4:14 pm

    If you beat up a guy for 23 hours and 45 minutes, then spend 15 minutes treating his wounds — which activity should the media cover?

    Or put it another way …

    You invade a country and spend $2 billion per week on things like ammo, fuel, construction materials, salaries, food, contractor services, vehicles and all the things your military needs.

    You also spend $1 million per week on things that directly help the people of the country you invaded.

    Which line item is significant and worthy of media coverage, and which is insignificant?

    I have no doubt that our soldiers want to focus on the positive things they have accomplished in Iraq. I certainly did when I considered my Vietnam service. But when I looked at the totality of what America did in Vietnam, death and destruction outweighed constructive efforts 1,000-to-1.

    The same is true in Iraq.

  3. Terri on April 19th, 2009 5:41 pm

    RA, you’re totally missing the point of this post and honestly you’re not worth my time trying to explain it to you on a level that you might understand.

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