Maine Army Sergeant Returns to Medical Center

Updated 1 year ago

After spending six weeks with family and friends here in Maine, Army Sergeant Helaina Lake is returning to Walter Reed Medical Center.The Livermore Falls native is recovering from the injuries suffered during a bombing attack in Afghanistan last summer.Lake says it feels good to be moving around again.She’s been at her parents’ Livemore Falls home for six weeks now, enjoying the holidays with friends and family and spending time with her three-year-old son Aden, who was tired out from spending time with his mom.”That’s what my big motivator is,” said Lake, “is when he said, ‘I want to go outside,’ and I said, ‘ok. Let’s go!’ He said, ‘You can go? You gonna go, momma?’ ‘Yeah! Let’s go!”The last time we saw the twenty-four-year-old Army Sergeant, she was coming back to Maine for the first time since a suicide bomber’s blast nearly killed her on June 20th.The military policewoman remembers a lot about that attack.She was in a city street just outside her base in Afghanistan when she heard her squad leader yell. “And I didn’t even have time to look. It’s like my brain was still processing ‘hey! Look!’ I didn’t even have time to turn and just… Boom.”Lake was about twenty feet away from the blast.She was knocked to the ground.”It was just so quiet except for the ringing in your ears, just like the movies. It’s that high-pitched ring, but it’s so quiet. I mean, you’re in a busy city and you don’t hear cars, you don’t hear kids, you don’t hear anybody, and it’s really eery.”Lake spent six days in a medically-induced coma.She woke up in Walter Reed Medical Center.Here she is with her mother and President Obama.Out of the hospital now, Lake’s body still bears scars from her injuries.Ball bearings from the suicide bomber have left round marks on her leg.She lost a finger and has nerve damage.It will be years until she knows how full her recovery will be.”It’s hard to be that patient. Patient to me is: wait a week or tomorrow, not: in three years, we’ll get your hand working, and it’s my dominant hand of course.”But, she always remembers her three fellow soldiers who didn’t survive that June attack.”I wish we could just change it. I wish we could go back and fix it. Do things different. They were all good guys. Being in a small squad, you’re with them every day, throughout the night if we run mission. You’re close to them. You’re relying on them to protect you. That is your battle buddy. Those are the guys that you trust and they have your back. You get close. It’s hard to lose them.”After all she’s seen and all she’s been through, Helaina Lake’s goal is still to return to military service.”I feel like I didn’t finish what I started. It’s kind of unfinished business.”Lake left for Maryland on Friday.She’ll be living with her son in an apartment close to Walter Reed.


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