By Jacquie Cadorette
Veteran Kirstie Ennis is recounting the story behind her harrowing hospital stay when her leg was amputated below the knee after a helicopter crash.
In the second episode of “To War and Back,” journalist and Navy veteran Phil Briggs dives into the traumatic war experiences that shaped Ennis and two other vets. The podcast is a RADIO.COM Original, created in partnership with Connecting Vets.
It begins with Retired Marine Corps Sergeant Kirstie Ennis, who revealed, “Everything takes a conscious effort now."
Beyond the obvious challenges that come with learning how to use your body without a major limb, Ennis revealed the mental strain her healing took on her. “I needed anything to get out of the hospital,” she said. “Emotionally, I’m struggling, because I don’t know who I am anymore.”
The episode cuts to veteran Boone Cutler, who revealed previously the traumatic and bloody experiences he had in Sadr City, Iraq. Immediately, listeners are transported into a relatively quiet moment for Cutler, when he recalls hearing his buddy shooting outside. That’s when the base came under attack.
“We were on the base. I had no gear on, so I had no protection. I just took the heat,” he said. That’s when a series of explosives hit the camp. “I didn’t think that the blast had really hurt me,” he recalled.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later during a home raid that he really started to feel the effects of multiple head injuries. In an attempt to stand up during the raid, Cutler immediately fell backwards. “I was having cognitive issues and balance issues from the blast,” he said.
“I woke up on a rooftop in Sadr City after being knocked unconscious,” he revealed. Multiple head traumas later, Cutler knew he was only getting worse. He suffered from memory issues and severe headaches, and that was only the beginning.
And then listeners hear the story of Marine Corps Major (Ret.) Scott Huesing, who didn’t suffer physical injuries, but the pain of losing a friend to the dangers of war and being responsible for telling their loved ones is an unbearable kind of trauma for him.
“You write the letter, and you send it off and you hope and pray that the person that reads it can understand a little bit,” he said. “For me it was always not enough…I had to make a phone call.”
He described the moment he had to call the family of a man in his unit. “When I had to call the parents of Cpl. Dustin Libby…it was tough,” he revealed. “There are really no words to describe it other than gut wrenching.”
To this day, he still reaches out to the families he’s contacted to let them know they’re still in his thoughts. Listeners are left wondering how things could possibly shape up for these heroes.
“To War and Back” can be found on the RADIO.COM app and everywhere you get podcasts.
Follow Phil Briggs @philbriggsVet