01 February 2010

Operation Proper Exit: Fourth group of wounded vets return to Iraq

But first, here's a video about SFC Michael Schlitz's participation during OPE-III. We've been able to read about him during coverage of that event, but it's great to get to know a little more about him as a person and a Soldier in this profile.

SFC Schlitz arrived in Iraq again yesterday as a mentor with the OPE-IV group.

Rick Kell, executive director of the Troops First Foundation, has done it again. Six wounded warriors arrived in Baghdad in C-130 Hercules, Jan. 31, and took their first steps in Iraq after being severely wounded the last time they were here.

This is the fourth time Kell, with support from the USO, has returned wounded service members to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit, a program aimed at helping the warriors find emotional closure after being injured.

Although this is the fourth trip, this set of Soldiers differs from previous groups; all six Soldiers are retired.

They include Capt. Ferris Butler, Capt. Lonnie Moore, Master Sgt. Tom Carpenter, Sgt. Omar Avila, Sgt. Jay Fain, and Cpl. Charles Dominguez.

You can read their profiles in the full story at the link.

Also returning in the role of military mentors are Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Olson and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Schlitz. This is the third Operation Proper Exit trip for Olson, who had his entire right leg amputated in 2006 after being struck by a RPG. Schlitz, on his second Operation Proper Exit tour, sustained burns to 85 percent of his body and lost both hands when his vehicle hit an IED in 2007.

The Soldiers will travel throughout Iraq for the next week with Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Wilson, United States Forces-Iraq command sergeant major. Wilson has worked with Kell for nearly a year to continue to bring troops back to the places that had changed their lives forever.

"We welcome these warriors. This is going to be a great trip for these guys, and we thank everyone for their support in getting them to his point," he told a crowd of service members gathered to welcome the warriors.

I just love this project. What a great experience for these wounded warriors!

No comments: