I've been in San Antonio for about a week and a half now. I came to escort some Japanese to some military medical sites around the area, and stayed to do a little house hunting. I even squeezed in a weekend trip to Houston to see Melody's Mom and Dad.
So far, it's been a good week, if a bit busy. The time with my Japanese counterparts went well. We had a chance to visit the new Center for the Intrepid, a rehabilitation center for our Wounded Warriors. It was a humbling experience to walk around and see the guys and girls there who have sacrificed themselves for our country. Funded totally by private donations, the Center was completed in about 18 months, and then turned over to the Department of Defense, to avoid the incessant red tape and bureaucracy that comes with military construction projects.
The Center has a full range of state of the art rehabilitation facilities, including an indoor pool and Flowrider (like a perpetual wave for surfing or body boarding, a fun and effective rehab technique), and even a rock climbing wall. Many of the Wounded Warriors are from the "younger" generation, and are into extreme sports. Judging from the facilities, losing a leg or two doesn't stop them or even slow them down.
They also have simulators to replicate daily tasks like walking in traffic, or even shooting a weapon, essential to regaining soldiering skills for those staying in the military (a surprisingly high number).
We saw the world-class burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center, as well as spent a short bit of time at the Fisher House, sort of a home away from home for family members and Wounded Warriors who are in an outpatient status.
Part of the week we spent up at Fort Hood, talking with Soldiers who served in and treated combat casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Japanese Soldiers really enjoyed hearing some of the "war stories" because it validated that the skills taught really work and save lives. Part of the tour included a medical simulation center styled after a Baghdad street. Realistic situational training in treating patients under fire is a lot different than the training I received when I was in troop assignments, and much, much better.
All in all, it was a very successful trip.
The past few days, I have been looking at house after house, searching for a place for us to live. Melody has spent the past seven or eight months on every real estate website in San Antonio, and has showed me countless homes as well. We almost went back to a property that we had placed a bid on (and subsequently pulled based on the home inspection), and finally settled on one that we think will work. We've placed an offer, and are waiting to hear what they say. Hopefully, the long search is over, and we'll have a home when we arrive in April.
We'll let everyone know.