CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - Service members welcomed back to Iraq seven wounded warriors who are participating in Operation Proper Exit X at Al Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Iraq June 26.
Operation Proper Exit is a mission designed for wounded service members of all branches of the military that helps them in the healing process.
“It’s an opportunity for wounded soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines to come back and see how the country has changed since they were here last and to see all of the hard work, effort and investment here is paying off,” said Richard Kell, the executive director of the Troops First Foundation which spearheads Operation Proper Exit.
During the ceremony in the rotunda of the palace retired Marine 1st Lt. Denis Oliverio, retired Army Staff Sgt. Robert Henline, retired Army Sgt. Kurtis Edelman, retired Army Sgt. Saul Martinez, retired Army Cpl. Jesse Murphree, retired Army Cpl. Steven Patterson and retired Army Pvt. Joshua Joseph each spoke to the more than 200 service members in attendance about the injuries they sustained and how they trying to overcome them.
Motivation is the word that came to mind for Spc. Sonia Zamorra-Chavez, a medic with a personal security detachment on Camp Victory who attended the ceremony.
“They keep going physically and mentally,” she said. “They don’t let anything stop them from doing whatever they want to do. They let all of us know that what they did and what we are doing here now, isn’t done in vain.”
“The warriors understand when they come back here that the sacrifices they made and their battle buddies that didn’t return has real meaning,” said Kell.
During their trip to Iraq, the warriors will be visiting multiple bases and speaking to service members from the north to as far south as Basra. Most of the Warriors will also be able to do a fly-over above the exact spot where they were injured.
They absolutely motivate the troops here by their willingness to come back and hopefully can put to rest some demons and memories that they have been living with since they were injured, said Kell, who has been on every Operation Proper Exit since it started in 2009.
Kell said there have been 77 troops that have made the trip back to Iraq, 77 different and unique stories about closure and what it means to them.
“Closure is an individual thing, but they do get to see a changed Iraq,” he said.
This work, Wounded Warriors road to recovery, by SSG Joseph Vine, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.