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Brickhouse family aides Iraqi children through son’s outreach


David Brickhouse (left) checks out an Iraqi child at a humanitarian aid station.- Photo Submitted
Former Farragut resident David Brickhouse has seen a lot of tears from the Iraqi people during his military service in Baghdad — mostly tears of joy.

David, a physician assistant with the U.S. Army, started up humanitarian aid stations in the Middle Eastern city, which have been well received.

“The people are at first a little shocked, then they are extremely appreciative … hugs, kisses and tears. It’s great,” David said. “It makes me and anyone who is involved feel awesome.”


David and members of the 1/4 ADA 1st Armored Division help administer medical treatment and give out clothes, toys and other supplies to the Iraqi people.

“I do everything a general practitioner does in the states,” said David, who received medical training in the Physician Assistant Program at Fort Campbell, Ky.

He also took courses at Pellissippi State and became an emergency medical technician before entering the Army in 1997.

Medical supplies for the stations are provided by his unit and the 414th Civil Affairs unit stationed in Baghdad, David said, but other staples come from his friends and family back in the United States.

His parents, Sharon and Ray Brickhouse of Farragut, and the parents of his wife, Shalinka, who resides in Clarksville, Tenn., along with their children, sons Briar, Garrett, Nick and daughter Nicole, all pitch-in to gather supplies to send to David.

“David and the other medics and PA’s give medical attention and give away to children candy, school supplies, small toys, crayons, coloring books and anything else that is sent to him,” Sharon said. “We have sent over 10 boxes. I buy the extra large boxes from Kroger and we fill them with donations from friends from our church, First Baptist Concord, students from Concord Christian School where I work and ourselves.

“Everytime I go shopping I love to buy things for his clinics. His wife’s family and church are also sending him boxes with items for the children.”

David said the Iraqi people are “more grateful than you can imagine” to receive the supplies and medical care.

The humanitarian aid stations are setup about every two weeks and the patient population is 70 percent children, he added.

“We do them in areas of isolation, but also areas we would really like to build stronger relationships, areas hit hard by the war,” David said.

The amount of people attending the clinics increases each time they are setup, Sharon said.

“The first clinic he saw over 300 adults and children and the second clinic there was over 400 people attending, which was mostly children,” she said.

Some interactions have been heart-touching experiences for the 30-year-old Army 2nd Lt.

“We have been able to get three wheelchairs so far. I can’t begin to tell you how good that made me feel,” David said. “Two (of the people who received them) had injuries from gunshots or land mines. The other was handicapped. She was the only one with both her legs.”

David’s mother said helping others is in her son’s heart.

“I think that David saw the tremendous needs of the people in Iraq and wanted to help them in any way he could,” Sharon said. “I believe that God placed the desire to help them in his heart by helping their medical needs.”

Sharon and Ray receive

e-mails from David periodically, in which he tells them the joy he gets from lending a helping hand and how even some Iraqi medical professionals are pitching in.

“He has mentioned that some Iraqi dentists are starting to volunteer their time in the clinics,” Sharon said.

The American troops are “overjoyed” that Saddam Hussein has been captured, David said, but there is mixed feeling amongst the Iraqi people.

“The people he treated well, of course they feel nothing. The other people … who he tortured in some way, be it themselves or family, are very happy,” he said.

Although the troops are happy about Saddam’s capture, David said they know that there is still work to be done.

“Everyone is overjoyed that he is captured, but we know that there is more to get,” he said. “The day (Osama) bin Laden is caught there will be one hell of a party.”

AWAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

David was deployed to Baghdad near the end of October 2003, and was not able to spend the holidays with his family.

“Being away from my family is one of the hardest things, but I know they’re taken care of and doing these missions helps take the sting out a little,” David said.

His family also missed him tremendously, Sharon said.

“The Christmas holidays will of course be lonely and sad without him here and we pray everyday for his safety,” she said a few days prior to Christmas, “but, we are also proud of David in serving his country by keeping us safe in our freedoms, and by blessing others less fortunate. Actions speak louder than words.”

David said he would be back in the United States in May.

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