By Charmain BrackettMay 14, 2009
Charmain Z. Brackett Correspondent He called them the "Sports Center at 2 a.m." moments. "Whatever is going through your head at 2 a.m. - that's what you need help with. It's watching SportsCenter at 2 a.m., and you probably have a drink in hand," said 1st Lt. Ed Salau, who knows firsthand about those Sports Center at 2 a.m. moments. Salau, who lost his leg in Iraq and now works for the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp LeJeune, N.C., spoke to members of Fort Gordon's Warrior Transition Battalion on May 6 at the Signal Theater. Salau served in the Marine Corps for 11 years before joining the Army National Guard. In February 2004, his unit deployed to Iraq. The unit's first casualty occurred on its first day in theater. In November 2004, Salau, part of a mechanized infantry platoon, was on a reconnaissance mission when his vehicle was hit with two rocket propelled grenades. Both of the RPGs hit the tank at the same spot. The second one entered the vehicle taking his leg and the leg of his sergeant, Andy Butterworth. Within minutes, medics were on the scene, and the two were out of harm's way. They ended up being roommates together at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They decided to face their treatment as a mission and had a checklist of items so they could get back home to their Families as quickly as possible. The standard hospital stay for patients such as Butterworth and Salau was about two years. They were discharged in March 2005, but the world they returned to wasn't the world they'd left. Butterworth had been an electrician and was having difficulty working because he could no longer climb ladders. Both men faced marital problems and divorced. It was those types of situations that led to Salau's Sports Center at 2 a.m. moments. At first, he'd thought asking for help was a sign of weakness. "The more I asked for help, the further ahead I could get," he said. Salau said his life has improved. He remarried in September. "Her husband was killed in Iraq six months before my accident. I found someone who understands loss. There's no time for excuses. You've got to move through it no matter how long it hurts," he said. "I can't complain around her. I've not lost what she lost." He encouraged those in the audience to ask for help because there were those in their lives who really did care about them. Salau said he was one of those people who cared about them and to prove it, he gave them his personal cell phone number.