March 1, 2007
FORT GORDON, Ga.---The Army has fired the 2-star general in charge of Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington.
This follows a series of Washington Post reports showing poor conditions in the building where US troops come home to heal and bureaucracy in getting them the treatment they need.
More than 23,000 American troops have been injured in the Iraq war so far, with that number climbing almost daily.
One soldier left Walter Reed to get better treatment here in Augusta...and Fort Gordon is offering her family a home away from home while she heals.
SPC Crystal Davis was barely out of high school when she joined the Army.
"A life change," she said of her decision. "I needed some balance in and responsibility in my life."
The Army trained her to fix tank engines. Within eight months she was on the ground in Ramadi, about 60 miles outside Baghdad...but she was never afraid.
"You know, you get scared, you get butterflies in your stomach or nauseous. I never felt that. Even the day I got hit, I never felt it," she said.
It was January 21, 2006. She'd been in Iraq two months when it happened.
She was driving the Army's equivalent of an 18-wheeler, the seventh and last truck in a convoy. It was 2 o'clock in the morning and she was on the lookout for IEDs--improvised explosive devices.
"I went to grab my glasses, this hand on the wheel, and I see a red flash come up and I heard a boom, and I closed my eyes and I put both hands on the wheel and hit the gas," SPC Davis recalled.
The next thing she knew, the armored door had been blown off and she was crushed into her seat.
"I heard TC Webb saying, 'Davis, are you all right?' And that's when the pain hit me all over me, and I started screaming, 'My legs hurt, my legs hurt'."
Later, she would find out how close to dying she had come.
"They had said that I had died in the helicopter, and they had said I had died in Baghdad."
And that's when Crystal says she heard a voice giving her a choice--to fight and live or let go.
"And I said, 'I'm a fighter.'"
Now, 13 months after her attack, Crystal's still fighting to recover. She lost her right leg and could still lose her left.
"I still don't know if I'm going to end up keeping this leg or not."
In Washington, she started physical therapy but got frustrated with long delays for treatment.
"Walter Reed is a good place. I have no faults with that," she said. "It's just that there's too many patients for not as many therapists."
It's much better for her here in Augusta at the VA, where she sleeps and gets physical therapy...and even better, she has family now in town to help.
Crystal's mom Carolyn has been at the Fisher House on Fort Gordon for a month, and she can stay as long as Crystal's getting inpatient treatment. As it looks now, that could be a number of months.
Carolyn says the Fisher House has made all the difference in the world.
"It's a lifesaver to me, because I can be here when she calls," Carolyn said. "I can jump in the car and be there in 5 minutes."
And as for Crystal, she now says what happened to her has given her a new appreciation for life and a desire to give even more...from a woman who's already given so much.
"My goal right now is to stay in the military and to be a physical therapist to help other amputees like me...and right now I think that's my reason, my purpose."
The Fisher House has seven rooms, and they stay full most of the time. Last year, occupancy was 92 percent.
The Fisher House relies heavily on donations and volunteers. To find out about their upcoming golf tournament fundraiser or how to help in any other way, click here.