CAMP VICTORY, Iraq (Army News Service, June 23, 2009) -- Six amputee combat veterans put their uniforms back on and returned to Iraq Sunday for the first time since sustaining their injuries in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In the rotunda of Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory on the outskirts of Baghdad, they introduced themselves to hundreds of their brothers and sisters in arms in support of yet another operation, "Operation Proper Exit."
Operation Proper Exit is a pilot program being introduced by the Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing lives of disabled veterans. The program is supported by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston.
The program is run by the Troops First Foundation, which is supported by the USO. It allows troops who sustained injuries in combat to return to the camps or bases at which they were stationed when injured.
"This was their idea. They wanted to come back," said Staff Sgt. Alejandro Perez, the administrative noncommissioned officer for Multi-National Force-Iraq's command sergeant major. Working directly with and for Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Wilson, Perez has planned and orchestrated the week-long visit of wounded warriors back to Iraq.
Brig. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, deputy commanding general, Mulit-National Corp-Iraq, introduced herself to each returning servicemember and gave each one a coin. She said she was glad they came back and that she hopes their visit here "closes the loop."
The troops and their entourage are scheduled to visit seven locations in Iraq during their visit this week.