Back Home: Roseville Vet's Road To Recovery

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(Roseville, CA)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Inside David Frame’s modest Roseville home a few toys are strewn about and the walls are covered with family photos. His kids are at school and his wife is at work. Frame comes in from his backyard patio and heads for the kitchen sink.

(sound of screen door opening and closing….water faucet turning on)
You sure you don’t want some water or something?

The wounded vet is out of a job and hasn’t been able to find construction work because of his injuries. Dressed in a plain white t-shirt and khaki shorts, Frame loosens the Velcro-straps on his leg brace and applies two Lidoderm patches around his right knee.

It’s like a novacaine kind of thing. My knee just started hurting some more so I figured I’d put these on.

The Army National Guard Sergeant was injured in 2004 while serving with the 10-72nd, a transportation company trucking supplies in and out of Fallujah to the Marines. The convoy he was riding in was ambushed in a village near Abu Ghraib prison.

We all should’ve died that day. There were a couple hundred insurgents out there shooting at us. We’re lucky, all of us. We only had four wounded and only two of us severe enough to get sent home. 

Shrapnel penetrated a large part of Frame’s leg.

Yeah, I caught a round. Came through the door and it hit part of a handle and that exploded and a majority of it went into my knee. I remember a couple of other things that I’d rather not talk about.

Now, 3 years after he was injured, the 35-year-old husband and father of 3 says he’s still in immense pain. He can’t run; it’s difficult for him to walk and sitting for more than 30-minutes is uncomfortable. Frame says his doctors at Travis Air Force Base are reluctant to replace his knee.

Too young they said because you can only get so many, I guess you can only get a couple and then you lose your leg. It’s gotten to the point now where I’m just so fed up with not being able to run or keep up with my kids. I told the doc basically if they don’t want to replace the knee because I will eventually lose it anyway and I said just take it then, just take the whole leg.

After he was wounded, Frame was discharged from the military. He says the medical insurance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs isn’t enough. Frame has filed a case with the American Legion and is hoping the V-A will increase his benefits by 10%.

I need that 10%, I need 30(%) so I can be retired and maintain my doctors. I have six months of TriCare which is the medical insurance and after that I’m screwed because they only gave me 20% I don’t have medical, I mean my knee’s covered through the VA but the rest of me and the rest of my family, we’re ass out come July I guess.

Beyond his physical pain, Frame is dealing with Post Traumatic Stress. He says it’s funny - when he was in Iraq, he got used to the nighttime mortar attacks pretty quickly. But since he’s been back home, he’ll hear a helicopter at night and panic.

I mean it scared you over there but it becomes kind of an everyday thing and you’re kind of numb to it. But when you’re home in the states where we’re safe and it happens, it’ll scare the piss out of you or helicopters overhead. Like when you’re driving it’s just la-dee-dah, Sunday drive but a lot of us coming back driving down the road it’s like you’re still on alert, you’re looking for that spot, is there a sniper up there, you know what I mean. It’s weird.

Despite his injured knee and the post traumatic stress, Frame says if he was physically able to, he’d go back to Iraq to finish his tour of duty. He worries about the Iraqi civilians he met on base, especially one man in particular, and what would happen if the troops left now.

This guy just loved Americans, just loved us. He’s like ‘don’t leave, don’t leave,’ and kissed me on both cheeks, ‘America’s great.’ All these regular Iraqis that just want a job and we’re paying them to come and do whatever on base to take money home to feed their families and they’re going to die if we leave. Once you have a guy like that just hug you, kiss you, do the cheek thing, it’s a different perspective. So, I would go back.

Three years after he was sent home, David Frame is still a casualty of war. He plans to consult with a civilian doctor about a knee replacement. Then, he says he’d like to return to school, learn a new trade and get on with his life