Corinne Reilly is probably someone most Evergreen residents have never heard of. She is a reporter who completed three tours in Iraq, reporting on military affairs, in 2008, 2009 and 2010. More recently, in 2011, she spent two weeks reporting on the daily lives of medical personnel and patients at a military hospital near the front lines in Afghanistan. She wrote a five-part series on that experience, for which she was recently named a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in feature writing.
She does have a strong connection to Evergreen, as she graduated from Silver Creek High School in 1999 and her parents still live here. Her sister, Erica, also graduated from Silver Creek, and was actually a reporter for Silver Creek’s student newspaper, the Raider Review. Reporting and great journalism must run in the family. She graduated from Silver Creek, studied communication at UC Santa Barbara and eventually moved on to reporting local government news for several years. Then it was off to the Iraq War in 2008. She currently is a reporter for The Virginian-Pilot.
The series she wrote, “A Chance in Hell”, provides a close-up view of the military doctors and nurses, and their patients, at a NATO hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan. This was a hospital where the most critical casualties of the war were taken; three quarters of its patients came directly from the battlefield, most flown in by Black Hawk helicopter. Life there was like the most horrible scenes you may have seen in a movie like, Platoon, and Corinne’s story brings the vivid reality front and center. The military base’s hospital trauma care also involved Afghan civilian casualties brought there, including children.
Her story details the human toll of war with incredible intimacy; and in sometimes painfully graphic detail. She tells of the heroic efforts and overwhelming mental and physical fatigue that the approximately 100 medical trauma staff dealt with on a daily basis, as they tried to save an average of 200 patients a month, with the worst types of traumatic injuries. Says Corinne about the experience, "I was truly blown away by the sacrifices I witnessed at the hospital, by both patients and caregivers and by both Americans and Afghans. I decided early on that the best way I could honor those sacrifices was to document them as faithfully as possible and show them to people in a way that was honest and real. If the recognition the series has received is any indication that I was successful in doing that, then I couldn't be any prouder."
I strongly recommend you read the entire story; it will forever imprint the reality of war in your mind. The link is www.hamptonroads.com/achanceinhell . Read it and reflect on it. And maybe, when Memorial Day comes this year, skip the shopping mall sales and do something, instead, to honor our military. It’s ok to want peace or question the political processes that fund wars, but don’t forget that both our troops and our dedicated military medical support teams, are in many cases, far from their loved ones and home, doing incredibly dangerous and heroic jobs.