It was a very festive celebration when Freedom Alliance brought together therapists from the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Inpatient Program (PTRIP) with their patients for a last hurrah before their Christmas break.
PTRIP is a specialized treatment program for active-duty and retired military. The unit at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, is only one of five facilities in the country, which is crucial because it treats all kinds of injuries, resulting from combat, vehicle, or training accidents. The therapy regimen is customized to the patient, and it can persist from one month up to a year, depending on the demands of the trauma.
Freedom Alliance asked PTRIP staff members Felix and Curtis to gather their patients and meet us at The Hard Shell, a seafood tavern in historic downtown Richmond. There, the restaurant manager started our guests with complimentary appetizers: fried oysters, calamari, and crab dip. For the main course, patients selected from a menu of she-crab soup and lobster chowder, crab cakes, lobster, filet mignon, and more.
Providing dinner out was not only a kind gesture, but these types of affairs are vital to the “transitional” part of the rehabilitation program. Service members participating in PTRIP must learn how to cope in public after sustaining severe injuries—essentially after relearning how to walk and talk.
The Richmond patients were getting ready to go home for the holidays and all were happy to be treated to dinner. One service member was being discharged the next day and wouldn’t be returning to the hospital, so it was a very special goodbye.
We concluded the night with cheesecake and chocolate pecan pie. Before parting ways with wishes for a merry Christmas, Freedom Alliance gave each patient a “Santa Sack,” which held a box of chocolates, an ornament, and a note of gratitude from one of our supporters.