Mother Applies Skills to Help Son,
Other Wounded Troops
By Donna Miles
FORT SAM HOUSTON,
Texas — Debby Schick arrived here at Brooke Army Medical Center
sad and afraid of what lay ahead. Her son, Marine Cpl. Jacob Schick,
had been medevaced here after his Humvee hit an anti-tank mine in
Iraq, severing his right leg just below the knee.
Capt. James Watt, an occupational therapist at Brooke Army
Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, worked with Debby
Schick to create a center where wounded troops can train
in day-to-day activities they’ll perform in their homes.
by Donna Miles / DoD Photo
With a long
recuperation ahead for him, Debby left her Dallas home and put
her career as an interior decorator on hold to be by her son’s
side as he began the long process of treatments and therapy.
What she didn’t
expect was that she’d get the opportunity to put her professional
skills to use to make life just a little bit nicer for her son
and other servicemembers being treated here for wounds received
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
by side with the medical center staff, Schick volunteered her
services to transform the center’s assisted daily living center
from a cold, institutional office into a homey environment where
wounded troops can practice the skills they’ll need when they
leave the hospital.
James Watt, an occupational therapist at the hospital, described
the new center as "a lifelike obstacle course" where
patients can learn to do the day-to-day activities they’ll perform
in their homes.
bedroom area, with a carpet patients must negotiate across, a
fully stocked kitchen with a washer and dryer and dining area
and a living room — all decorated in a style that looks
fresh out of a designer magazine.
she wanted the new area to feel welcoming to patients, many learning
to do chores that have become far more challenging with wounds
and, in some cases, prostheses. She chose warm, soothing colors,
modern furnishings and art and lots of mirrors that not only make
the space look larger, but also give patients an opportunity to
watch their movements.
the best possible environment for the young men and women who
had been injured — something they would enjoy being in,"
she said. "Now it’s a great place for them to interface with
each other as they recover and build their confidence."
hard to believe that this was nothing more than a glorified break
room," Watts said as he surveyed the area. "Now it feels
like home. It’s a place where patients can temporarily step out
of the hospital experience and work on the skills they’ll need
so they can go home and be independent."
she’s hopeful the new center will bring recovering troops comfort
and a temporary escape from the institutional hospital environment
as they prepare to return to their homes. "Hopefully this
will bring the patients a lot of joy," she said.
the project "a way to give back" for the "five-star
treatment" she said her son is receiving at Brooke while
helping her work through her own emotions. "It’s been a lot
of fun, and it’s been very therapeutic for me," she said.