Sharon in Kuwait – Part 3
Here’s an update from Sharon. I’m pretty far behind on posting her communications, but don’t want to bury you with information, so I’ll continue to inject these as time/space allows. If you want to catch up on previous posts, go here.
“Yesterday, when I came into work we had a message from a wife who reported that her husband had told her he was wanting to end his life. This is a desperate situation for a soldier with a gun. We began to work on locating this soldier. We found his command in Baghdad about 30 minutes after we received the emergency message. Command will find the soldier and take steps to protect him from himself. I hope we found them in time. I may have made a difference to that one.
Through out my shift I pass messages relating to the death of grandparents, actively dying parents, brothers and sisters in ICU and children’s tragic accidents. Any form of tragedy, illness or death in every form imaginable passes through the Red Cross and we handle the cases for all of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. We also assist Afghanistan and Iraq by locating service members with a secret security locator program that is supposed to track all service members. Here in Kuwait we pass about 30 emergency communication messages per day.
At the end of my shift yesterday, I was sent a message from Afghanistan that they were having difficulty locating a soldier. The address provided by the family was in Afghanistan, the locator system provided data indicating he was in Kuwait. I was torn on how to focus this search. I made two phone calls here to reliable connections and they did not see him anywhere in the system. The locator system for this soldier had not been updated since April so it was hopelessly outdated and unreliable as a resource. In the meantime his mother was actively dying and I wanted desperately to help him get home before it was too late. It is important! But I did not know where he was and my resources were wearing thin. I made a decision. I believed that since the locator system records for him had not been updated for him since last April, he was probably here when he first came into the theater and had moved out to Afghanistan. I dispatched the emergency message back to Afghanistan with a few more bits of information that I had picked up from the locator system. I hope they found him. I hope he got home in time to see his mother before she died…I hope.
I went home last night with specters of soldiers wandering lost and alone in the desert darkness. I know that this is probably not true, but it feels that way from here sometimes. The Air Force is always able to locate its members, they have a very good system.It takes us only 2-3 calls and as many minutes to locate Air Force service members. The Army has much to be desired in this area. Sometimes it takes as many as 20 hours and as many phone calls to locate an Army Soldier, but 99% of the time we do find them. Sometimes they get to go home and spend the
last few minutes , hours or days with there loved ones or they are able to pay their respects and attend the funeral. It makes a difference to those ones.