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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Veterans Recall and Rehab

Published May 28, 2010 10:47 AM by Cheryl McEvoy

Break out the grill, Memorial Day weekend is just hours away. Some of the staff has already jetted off to the Jersey Shore, and I'll soon be battling traffic right along with them.

The past week of small talk has revolved around who's going where and doing what over the long weekend, but I've hardly heard a peep about our armed forces. Sure, war's a heavy subject for water cooler chat, but it still stands to think about our soldiers and veterans somewhere between the burgers and beach.

On Monday, we'll post a feature called "A Hero's Welcome" on our homepage to commemorate Memorial Day. The article takes a look at veterans' health care, with specific attention to rehabilitation for those who served and survived. The veteran population is changing, and fortunately, so are health services--especially for those previously neglected. Check it out on our homepage starting May 31. 

In the meantime, here are two stories that show how far we've come to help our veterans survive and thrive:

Retired physical therapist Carol Kelm is not only a WWII vet, she also served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Now 94, Kelm joined the war effort at 29 years old, when she enrolled in a free physical therapy certification class through the Mayo Clinic. As part of the deal, Kelm had to enter the service upon earning certification. She provided physical therapy overseas and in the States, including a stint at Walter Reed in Washington, DC.

Kelm probably encountered some amazing cases, but I doubt she saw anything like this guy. Brendan Marrocco survived a roadside bomb attack in Iraq and is now a rare rehab patient--a quadruple amputee. The bomb destroyed his arms and legs and severed his carotid artery, but in an odd twist of fate, it also saved his life. The heat from the blast cauterized the very wounds it caused, reducing the loss of blood. Now, Marrocco is undergoing physical therapy to regain his independence. It's an incredible story, and a great conversation starter for this weekend. 

If those topics sparked your interest, there are plenty of stories about veterans' health care and rehabilitation services in our archives. Read up, then get the latest news in "A Hero's Welcome" at this Memorial Day.


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