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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Proper Exit

Veterans Day is this Friday. 60 minutes had a moving story on veterans who return to Iraq after being injured. Called Operation Proper Exit, injured soldiers are given the opportunity to return to Iraq in an attempt to confront the traumatic memories that forced them to leave. They are given the opportunity to leave on their own terms.

 In 2007, Corporal Steven Cornford, was hit in the left shoulder while under attack by an enemy machine gun nest in Iraq. Severely injured, he ran to grab his Lieutenant who was also hit. Corporal Cornford ended carrying the Lieutenant over a mile to a medevac helicopter. The Lieutenant died. Corporal Cornford underwent surgery and survived.. He was 18  years old at the time.

Three years later, he still cannot forgive himself. He thought he could do more. He was awarded the Silver Star for Valor. In his early 20's now, he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Corporal Cornford returned to Iraq to try to put to rest the guilt and anger:
Operation Proper Exit helps Cornford and the others lay down some of the burden by bringing them back not just to a place but to a time, a time they were proud of. The trip is a tour and every stop is part of the therapy. Back with the troops, the machines, and the weapons that were their strength. 
This post doesn't have much legal significance (Although I am confused by the fact that our country sends a 18 year old into battle, but doesn't let him buy a beer). However, it reminded me of the important reason behind the court holiday this Friday. Also, the importance of not only a proper exit, but a proper homecoming for soldiers that were never given one.

Here is the link to Troops First Foundation.


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