E3 and below.
Unqual. "Hasn't paid his dues." etc.
Well, there's a then-Seaman in the upper-right hand corner. Where did he come from?
When he decided to join the U.S. Navy, (Raffetto) was living at home and working in construction, and he craved a more structured lifestyle. His brother had been a Marine and Raffetto was tempted to join the infantry, but his father suggested enlisting in the Navy and learning a useful trade. Becoming a Hospital Corpsman, Raffetto thought, seemed like the right course of action.A serious rating for serious Sailors doing a critically serious job.
Underway time and pre-deployment training is, for a Sailor, a bit different.
The convoy moved through dirt roads where mock IEDs exploded during an ambush.You train hard for a reason. Your future can visit you quickly.
“This is to see our reaction after the explosion,” said Cpl. Michael Kempker, a point man with Co. B. “Someone in the convoy gets injured by the blast and we have to find a safe place to treat him.”
Once at a safe location, Marines followed instructions from a Navy corpsman to treat common injuries seen from IED attacks.
“It’s important for them to know what procedure to follow because if something were to happen to me whether I get killed, or injured in a way I can’t help, they will be able to treat me or anyone else who needs it,” said Seaman James Raffetto, a corpsman with Co. B.
The recon Marines learned how to treat the specific injury each of their patients had during practical applications in a simulated combat zone.
“The main thing is to acknowledge the life-threatening injuries and stabilize the casualty,” said Raffetto.
Marines explained the importance of knowing what to do and doing it in a fast manner.
“Every second counts in this type of situation, so we rehearse and rehearse to change any minor problems to help us in the future,” said Lance Cpl. Ben Eiden, an assistant radio operator with Co. B.
Raffetto spent the bulk of his Navy career in training; he was wounded during his very first deployment. He was assigned to the Marines of 1st Reconnaissance and, while in Afghanistan in August 2010, he was severely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast. The accident resulted in the amputation of both his legs above the knee, an amputation of his left arm at the elbow, and the amputation of three fingers on his remaining hand.There is something about a Corpsman, their view on life - and the women that they marry, often right before deployment.
Though his recovery process was very difficult at first, Raffetto, who now is standing tall on prosthetic legs, feels very hopeful about the future.His Marines didn't forget him either.
“Several factors help me stay positive: first and foremost, my wife – the best part about all of this is that she is with me and I can spend time with her,” Raffetto said. “Organizations like Navy Safe Harbor have made a big difference. And my physical therapists are extremely skilled. Had I been injured a few years ago, walking may have been impossible. But, considering the future of prosthetics, it is hard to not be optimistic.”
Navy Safe Harbor has helped the Raffetto family address a number of non-medical issues, from helping the family get to Raffetto’s bedside immediately after his injury to fixing pay and personnel problems.
“Navy Safe Harbor has been very helpful,” said Raffetto. “They strike the perfect balance of being there when you need them, but not hanging around when you don’t. [My Non-medical Care Manager] CDR Hamilton is phenomenal. She gets results, she checks in often, but she’s not overbearing in any way.”
“From day one James has maintained a positive attitude that sort of says: ‘This is where I fell; I’m going to stand where I am and move forward from here,’” said Hamilton. “He faced many trials in his recovery and rehabilitation but has never given up. He sets goals and strives to achieve them. He’s a champion.”
When they can, Raffetto and his wife Emily like to visit other wounded warriors; they generously offer their company, share their experiences, and offer an ear to listen if needed.
“The most important thing I can do is show the wounded warriors what they can accomplish during their recovery – by seeing me, they learn that so much is still possible,” said Raffetto. “I try to give them a realistic look – but a hopeful look – at what’s to come.”
He lost his legs, his left arm and part of his right hand to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in August, but Navy Medical Corpsman James Raffetto says that's not what's been worrying him.Then Seaman now Petty Officer Ratello; BZ and Fullbore.
"I just wanted to know my guys would make it home OK," he said.
When the 220 troops from Camp Pendleton's 1st Reconnaissance Battalion he served with in the Helmand province arrived home on Wednesday, they were equally concerned for Raffetto.
Dozens of Marines rushed up to the Pennsylvania native, hugging him and asking him how he was doing in a remarkable display of Marine Corps' brotherhood.
"I'm great," he assured them as he stood in a corner of a gymnasium filled with parents and families of the returning troops. "It's a relief to know everyone is now home and all right."
Raffetto explained to his buddies how he's able to get around on prosthetic legs and use the portion of his hand that remains.
He flew from Washington, D.C., to California to welcome the battalion back to Camp Pendleton. After all, he said, it was those he was assigned to protect who saved him, making sure he didn't bleed to death when he was blown up.
"They're the reason I'm still alive," he said. "They used the training that I helped give them, and that's why I'm here today."
WASHINGTON (July 14, 2011) Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James A. Raffetto and his wife are congratulated by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert during the third annual Safe Harbor Awards ceremony. Safe Harbor is the Navy's lead organization for coordinating non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill, and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen and their families. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Dickinson/Released) 110714-N-ZZ999-001