Monday, June 18, 2007

Perspective: Finding comfort at dark journey's end

Sylvia Blackwood

Everything in Ward 3D East is locked, even the windows. Located inside the District of Columbia VA Medical Center, only three miles from the Veterans Affairs headquarters where national health policies are made, the psychiatric ward is a refuge for mentally ill homeless veterans and those plagued by drug and alcohol addictions. This is where Lt. Sylvia Blackwood drove herself before the sun came up one April morning and stayed for seven grim days.

Blackwood, a reservist with the 356th Broadcast Operations Detachment, survived two tours in Iraq, first as a military journalist, then as a State Department spokeswoman. "The possibility of death was so ever-present and terrifying that you just couldn't think about it. Everyone was dying. It was a constant barrage," she said.

She saw a severed arm and a stabbing victim. She survived an attack from a makeshift bomb and a bombing near her quarters. But Blackwood is not a typical example of a soldier who flips out after witnessing one gruesome event.

Read the rest at the Washington Post