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I'm probably one of the few who weren't surprised that Ray got injured, even less so that he's going to get sent home. I get the feeling he's going to have a harder time adjusting than B.D. or Toggle.
I just noticed that the "enlarge" feature has been restored to the site. I don't know how long it's been back, but I appreciate it. it's a godsend for these 75-year-old eyes. Thank you very much from an old sailor who has been reading your strip from day one.
Just click on the word ENLARGE, right under the strip.
Please bring Ray home, please. He's been there too long and he's earned the right to stop being GT's symbol of the USA. Let him start rebuilding his life with BD's help. I'm certain the rest of the crew can also lend a hand.
How do you do it? How do you address a soul-wrenching issue like battlefield traumatic brain injury and make it poignant and funny at the same time?
Ray is at an intersection and intersections are dangerous. When you tell the soldier, sailor, airman or marine that the show is over, it's a dangerous time. They do desperate things.
War is simple. Life is complex. Makes sense to me. Seems like Ray got it right.
Sometimes I feel helpless in the face of all that has been done in my 52 years of life (so far), supposedly "in my name." The story of Ray brings it home in a way that body counts and patient numbers cannot. Thank you for staying with your work for so long, and sharing your gifts so beautifully.
"AT&T bills and couples counseling." Hey! That's why I do my job, too! (Fortunately, mine's only schoolteaching.) Been reading the strip since '72. Boola Boola. Thx!
I absolutely love this story, one which needs to be told more than many others because the wounds are not visible. Unfortunately the cause of these injuries is also in the early stages of understanding, and it is not always enemy action. I have watched a fellow SF Soldier who I have known for 20 years get to the same place by riding explosive breaching charges in as the #1 man.
I like Ray, and hope this week's storyline is GBT's device to get him out of there and into treatment before it's too late.
For readers who might not know, a specialist is an E-4, the rank equivalent of a corporal. It's a holdover from the 1960s and '70s when the Army had SP4s, SP5s, SP6s, etc., as an alternate to the hard-stripe NCO ranks. These days, Army recruits who have earned a four-year degree or have civilian-acquired job skills will enter as a specialist. I'm guessing that Miller is a college grad with a technical skill, possibly medic since he brought Ray in for treatment after the explosion.
I have TBI from multiple blast injuries. Thanks for getting people to understand that even though we were not tornup and bleeding, that over time and throughout multiple deployments and exposure to numerous blasts (many not reported) we have developed injuries that are difficult to deal with, and at times for us to accept.
Ray has been representing the more subtle, and thus largely unseen, side of war ever since our first adventure into Saddam-land. It hurts to see his current condition, but this story must be told and no one but GBT can tell it with heart and humor. I'm not looking forward to Ray's story going ahead, but go ahead we must.
Ray, I've met your type. See, back in the early 80s at community college, I was an honorary member of the vet's club -- the only place I fit in (not all who face combat serve, you see). My "big brothers" were all Vietnam Vets. It's time to think about coming home, honey. Think hard, because I don't do funerals.
You go Ray! Look, the world just handed him a steamer. He's taking the ball (figuratively) and he's making his play. No doubt the nick 'Boomer' will stick for the rest of his life. Or, about six months, whichever comes first. A few "get it," where Ray is at, but they have no patience with VA Outreach centers. Gawd help those poor citizens at the VA help centers. They do not, cannot, will not ever, get it. Ray is on a different trip. Patronizing a mentally ill soldier could have disastrous consequences. Blowing off a body part might be the only thing that pulls Ray back from the edge. Thanks for taking this whole thing seriously.
Regarding this week's strips involving Ray, at least we can take comfort in the revelation that Ray possesses the same (if not superior) super-human powers of immunity to death that Jeff Redfern and Duke have. Surviving as many explosions as he has with no injury? That's a super-human feat that, while not based in reality, at least makes me confident that Ray will manage to survive while he's out in the battlefield.
Actually, it is based in reality. GBT recently met an Army sergeant at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany who had been blown up 16 times. His nickname was "Ten Seconds", which was how long he ordinarily lasted on patrol. He wanted to return to duty, but his commander ordered him home for good.
Ray is starting to remind me of a Sergeant I had in Advanced Infantry training before I went to Nam. He had a nervous tic and, while inspecting the troops, his head would shake. Then he'd berate the poor SOB in front of him for moving. Someone said he was involved in a friendly fire incident in Nam. Get Ray home. Maybe it's not too late.
I knew it, I knew this would happen to Ray. GBT knew it too. He used to visit the patients at Walter Reed, he was very kind to them but he knows how it is. Now Ray will not, I repeat, not get around this on his own. This will not go away. No budget cuts, no VA-DOD sharing agreement, no congressional re-election mandate that looks good on paper will fix this. Ray needs his buddies, maybe Toggle even. Damn it, I knew this would happen...
You were brilliant when I was a liberal, 40 years ago. You are still brilliant, today, now that I am a conservative. Thank you.
I love the look on Earl's face in today's strip. He looks like he's totally going to enjoy this!