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Mail can be sent to Dan at:

Lt Dan Berschinski
PO Box 4180
6900 Georgia Ave NW
Washington DC 20307


Update 10-29-09

Sorry for the delay in posting.  When my parents and I first arrived at Walter Reed to see Dan two and half months ago, one of the welcome staff there told us about how we and Dan would all adjust to the “new normal” of our lives.  I remember thinking at the time that that was an absurd statement, but as with most things we’ve been told by Walter Reed’s staff, it has been proven true over time.  In keeping with the idea of the “new normal,” while Dan continues to make huge strides on a daily basis, I haven’t felt as compelled to share every little breakthrough and setback now that we’ve moved beyond the life-and-death stage.

So with that as a preamble, here are some of the goings on:

First, for those of you in the Fayette/Coweta area, as you can see in the poster below, the Chick-Fil-A at Starr’s Mill (1222 Highway 74 South in PTC) has been kind enough to host a benefit night for Dan this Thursday, Nov 5, from 5:00-7:00pm.  A portion of the proceeds from the event are going straight to Dan’s Fund, so please come out, have some good food, and show your support.

After proving that car rides were no issue over the weekend (see my last entry below), on Tuesday Dan made his first foray into non-Walter Reed America since deploying in July.  To mark the occasion, Sabrina, Dan, a mutual friend who shall remain nameless, and I had dinner at Red Lobster.  Over last weekend, a great group of alumni from Dan’s regiment representing every American conflict from the Iraq War all the way back to WWII stopped in to hang out with him and swap war stories.  The guys also handed Dan a rather large gift certificate to the local Red Lobster, so thus we had little choice but to celebrate Dan’s first night out over plates with names like “Admiral’s Feast” and “Shrimp Your Way.”  Our waiter, noting that we were something of a lively bunch, asked us if we were celebrating anything.  We gave him the short version of events, to which he replied “well, usually we sing a song for birthdays and whatnot, but we don’t have a song for that.”

In other news, the staff here approached Dan last week to be the subject of Walter Reed's upcoming PR campaign aimed at attracting more nurses to military service.  He posed for a photo shoot with a couple of his favorite nurses and will be adorning some of Walter Reed's future brochures and posters!  It also looks like he may be getting some press coverage in the near future, and though I won’t spill the beans on any of that quite yet, I will let everyone know if/when something comes out in print.

On the medical front, in the last couple of days Dan has had both of his legs “casted,” which is the first step he’s taken in his quest to reclaim the title of tallest Berschinski brother.  For those of you keeping score at home, I held the title from 1980 to approximately 2002; Dan then claimed it from 2002 to Aug 18, 2009; and now I own it again, though I fear I won’t hold onto it for long this time around.  Dan seems to think that his injuries entitle him to an upgrade in the height department; the words “six foot two” keep coming out of his mouth.  As those of you who have seen a Berschinski in real life already know, this is something of a stretch (no pun intended).  I keep pulling the docs aside and saying “five foot five” is what he really wants…we’ll see whose advice they ultimately take.

As I write, Walter Reed’s technicians are using the casts to craft custom-made sockets unique to Dan’s body.  The sockets will then form the basis of his new legs.  We’ve been told by the docs and physical therapists that Dan may be vertical as early as next week.  We’re also well aware that the rehab process for double amputees takes a long time, so “vertical” isn’t at all synonymous with “walking.”  With that said, Dan is already putting in lots of time at Walter Reed’s state-of-the-art Military Advanced Training Center (pronounced Mat-cee), and the wonderful folks there are the best in the business at what they do.

To close on a somber note, all eight of the soldiers that died Tuesday in southern Afghanistan were returned to American soil today at Dover Air Force Base. All eight [correction:  I have learned that seven of the eight came from 1-17, while one soldier came from a sister battalion, the 2-1] came from Dan’s battalion. Three months into a year-long tour outside of Kandahar, his unit has now taken 20 KIA, with many others, like Dan, grievously wounded. As you think about this one soldier that I know so many of you care about, please pause and reflect on the difference between meeting a loved one at Walter Reed and meeting him or her at Dover. We, indeed, are the lucky ones.


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