ASTS welcomes Army combat veteran guest speaker

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Josh Kincaid

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- The lethality of the armed forces largely depends on the ability of its service members to maintain peak health standards. The 94th Aeromedical Staging Squadron here aids that effort by providing care and ensuring medically ready forces are prepared to go out the door at a moment’s notice.

The 94th ASTS welcomed guest speaker Samuel Walley to their facility on Saturday, to speak on the power of resiliency and the effects of traumatic brain injury as part of their Comprehensive Medical Readiness Course.

Walley is the Veteran Outreach Coordinator for the PTSD Foundation of America, former Infantryman for the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, and is featured in the book First Platoon by Annie Jacobsen.

When telling his personal story about losing two limbs to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan he had high praise for the medical team that helped save his life.

“I relied on a lot of people out there,” said Walley. “It’s not just the guys on the ground putting on the tourniquets, but it’s the aeromedical evacuation pilot landing on a narrow gap between trees and the rest of the medical team that saved my life.”

Walley relied on not only his own resiliency throughout this traumatic event, but on the resiliency shown by those ASTS servicemembers that saved his life.

“They pulled me off of that helicopter and put me on the stretcher. Nobody slowed down and they all did their jobs perfectly. That’s why you do all of this training. Then when it gets time for that day your body is going to go into auto-drive, you don’t second guess yourself.”

Members of the 94th ASTS have been on deployments stretching across the globe in recent years and took time to ask questions on how they can be the best medical unit possible to combat injuries and help recovering veterans.

“The ASTS plays an integral part in helping the boots on the ground because if service members get injured, they come to the hospital and our nurses and techs care for them and then they move on,” said Captain Anna Sanchez, the Clinical Nurse for the 94th ASTS. “By hearing from Walley we learned what we can do to enhance the hospital stay from the patient’s perspective.”

The effects of TBI affect each individual differently. Walley described frustration with his recovery at times because it wasn’t tailored to his unique situation. He gave advice to the group on providing the best health care service members with TBI.

“Don’t treat every veteran the same,” said Walley. “We all enjoy different things. Treat us as you would normally treat anyone and it helps us adapt back to society. Care for each veteran as an individual person and make it personal.”

This speaking event was the second of four engagements that will take place over the next two drill weekends at the 94th ASTS.

“Master Sgt. Ebony Butler had the initiative to do the Comprehensive Medical Readiness Course and we were brainstorming the best way to do it,” said Sanchez. “We put our heads together and decided that bringing in people to talk over the next several months would be the most effective way to educate our squadron.”