General Rainville visits injured soldiers at Walter Reed army hospital

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(Host) Three members of the Vermont National Guard remain hospitalized as a result of injuries received in fighting in Iraq. Vermont Adjutant General Martha Rainville joined family members who traveled to Washington Thursday to visit two of the injured men.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) In the past three weeks, three members of the Vermont Army National Guard have been killed and eight wounded in Iraq. The deaths were the first Vermont Guard losses in hostile action since at least the Korean War. Five of the wounded have returned to duty. Three others are still hospitalized.

Specialist Thomas Brooks of St. Albans and Sergeant Gary Jackson of Colchester have been undergoing treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland. Vermont Adjutant General Martha Rainville joined family members who visited the two Thursday. Speaking by cell phone afterward, Rainville said Brooks and Jackson are in good spirits.

(Rainville) “It’s great to see them both with such strong attitudes, very positive. They’re really dealing with the physical challenges that they have extraordinarily well.”

(Zind) Linda Brooks of St. Albans has visited Walter Reed three times since her son Thomas was flown there from an army hospital in Germany. Brooks says her son’s condition has improved since the first time she saw him.

(Brooks) “He couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t move. He was very drugged with painkillers. And slowly he’s come out of that and his spirits have been pretty good all along. He started physical therapy last week and they set a goal for him for the end of the month and he passed that on his second day.”

(Zind) Both Brooks and Gary Jackson sustained serious injuries in a mortar attack south of Baghdad on May 25. The two men have undergone extensive surgery. After a recovery period, they will have at least two months of physical therapy. Gary Jackson’s wife, Lisa, says she’s grateful for the support of the guard and the community, but she says it’s been a difficult two weeks.

(Jackson) “It just made everything very real. Obviously I’m thankful that he’s here, that our circumstances aren’t as bad as some.”

(Zind) Vermont National Guard Specialist Roy Harper of Crown Point, New York, who was injured Monday in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded, is scheduled to be flown to Walter Reed this week. The same attack took the life of Sergeant Jamie Gray of East Montpelier.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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