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Their Arms and Legs, Your Hearts and Minds… By Tom Tierney11 August 2011We were standing at tables at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, sorting through shorts and shirts thatwould be used by wounded Marines (also Navy and Army) recovering and rehabilitating at the hospital.The shorts and shirts were being sorted into piles “left arm”, “right arm”, “left leg”, “right leg” and “bothlegs”: Velcro enclosures had been added to the openings for the respective appendage(s), these clotheswere for use by Marines missing arms and legs, now learning to use prosthetic limbs.If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine seeing these piles of clothes and thinking about theyoung men and woman who through war in Iraq and Afghanistan, IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)and even accidents, are beginning a new stage of life, much like everyone’s first stage of life: learningto walk or use one’s arms and hands all over again.If you live in the San Diego area, because of a large Marine and Navy presence, you’ll see these youngpeople walking around from time to time. Given the yearly warm climate, you’ll see people in shortsmost of the year and invariably, if you are strolling in a coastal town, it doesn’t take long to encountersomeone in shorts with a prosthetic leg (or two), a prosthetic arm or other injury.There is also what you don’t see: those who’ve had TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) from IEDs or other blastswho have a more insidious injury, one that isn’t as visible but even more disabling.I’m writing about arms and legs to hopefully capture some hearts and minds. Aside from those whodirectly choose to serve in the military and their respective families, the sacrifice made over the last 10years (and yes, many years before by past veterans) is sometimes invisible to most Americans.Whether you agree or disagree with what a particular political party chooses to do with the military, themilitary doesn’t get to pick or choose, their sacrifice of personal choice gives us the ability to havefreedom of personal choice.If you have the financial ability to donate or can offer some time to volunteer, seek out local woundedwarrior organizations to contribute. San Diego has a great organization the “Warrior Foundation”(http://www.warriorfoundation.com/aboutus.html) that is a non-profit 501c3 through the Navy League(see web page for more information along with a pointer for donations if you are able to contribute orvolunteer).We all may sometimes take for granted much that we have available here in the United States, butfreedom as they say, doesn’t come “free”. Please keep these young Americans in your hearts andminds: donate money or time where you can to help, hire them if you are an employer, but at least saythanks when you have the opportunity and keep them in your thoughts (and prayers).Tom Tierney lives in Encinitas, CA and is a member of Tech Coast Angels (www.techcoastangels.com).Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tech_coast_angels for more background information on the TCA.