Well earned thank yous

Published 5:53 pm Friday, May 11, 2012

Several years ago, I was filling up my truck at a local gas station when the man in the car next to me started yelling.

“Hey,” he screamed as I turned around to see what was going on. “Hey!”

He began to run toward a man in a military uniform who was walking into the store. I thought surely something bad was about to happen when suddenly, as the man ran closer to the soldier, the chants of “hey” turned to “sir.”

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The soldier turned around about the time the man got to him.

The man stuck out his hand and said, “Thank you. I appreciate what you’re doing.”

The soldier shook the man’s hand, they talked for a few seconds and both went on about their way.

What I at first thought was going to be a scuffle turned into a gesture that I have remembered for the past several years.

It’s probably not something we think to much about; thanking a soldier.

Over the past 10 days, 70-plus soldiers have been entrenched in our little county and have provided access to healthcare to thousands of our friends and neighbors.

To those with insurance or the financial ability to pay for a doctor’s visit, this entire exercise probably didn’t seem like a big deal.

To those who don’t have access to regular or affordable healthcare, it was a godsend.

Regardless of whether you have insurance or not, this exercise was a big deal.

That Demopolis was included as one of three sites that dolled out more than $3 million in free healthcare is also a big deal.

The 10 day mission provided countless hours of training to soldiers who one day will be charged with providing this level of care under adverse conditions.

As these soldiers were providing this access to care, they were training.

One day they will face the kind of influx – likely greater – of people who needed medical attention far worse than those they’ve seen this month.

It may be in a humanitarian mission or in a disaster recovery effort, but these men and women were sharpening their skills come a critical need.

We owe them all – all 70-plus who spent the last 10 nights sleeping in the old New Era building – the heartiest of thank yous for reaching out to our neighbors and providing them them with the care they otherwise may have missed.

Statewide, more than 12,000 were served across Hayneville, Selma and Demopolis that otherwise likely would have not received any kind of medical attention whatsoever.

That is quite an accomplishment.

Thank you.