In 2004 we followed the excellent Minneapolis Star Tribune series on Army Staff Sergeant Jessica Clements by medical reporter Maura Lerner. In the series Lerner wrote in detail, with great humanity, about the devastating brain injury suffered by Clements in Iraq, and her near-miraculous recovery-in-progress. The series also inclulded remarkable photographs by Star Tribune photographer Jim Gehrz.
We noted the articles in the series and posted a few representative photos from it here as the series appeared in the Star Tribune beginning in August 2004. We noted Lerner’s articles in “A purple heart for Jessica” (covering Jessica’s injury by a roadside bomb and her initial life-saving treatment); “Putting Jessica back together” (reporting on Jessica’s August 2004 surgery and on the physicians who performed seemingly miraculous feats); and “In which Jessica keeps her promise.” The third and final (so far) installment of Lerner’s series was “There’s no place like home,” published in October 2004. Here it is:
From her hospital bed, Jessica Clements made her grandfather a promise in June.
“I will be at your birthday party,” she said.
At the time, it seemed unlikely. Jessica, an Army Reserve staff sergeant from Ohio, had awakened from a coma only a few weeks before.
She could barely sit up in her bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. She had a devastating head injury and a tornup hip from a roadside bombing in Iraq in May. A long stretch of rehab lay ahead. Her grandfather’s 79th birthday was only three months away.
Yet on the day before the party, Jessica clutched her cane and climbed into her fianc