JUNCTION, Texas – Five Afghan commandos who have survived traumatic combat injuries visited the Eagle Summit Ranch, a nonprofit rehabilitation facility in Junction, Texas March 30 – April 3, 2015.
Their goal is to bring back best practices and lessons learned to Afghanistan in the hope of building support programs similar to those available to U.S. wounded veterans.
Sgt. Maj. Faiz Wafa, Afghan National Army Special Operations Command sergeant major, is leading the way in developing a wounded warrior program for ANASOC in Kabul, Afghanistan, near the command headquarters.
“My hope is for my soldiers who have lost their eyes, arms or legs to be able to support themselves and their families. Some of them have lost hope because they can’t support their families, but with a wounded care program I am confident that their hope will be restored,” said Wafa.
“The purpose of this week-long trip is two-fold,” said Sgt. Maj. Larry DeBusk, U.S. advisor to the ANASOC Senior Enlisted Advisor. “The first part of the trip is to bring the Afghan wounded warriors here to help them learn how to accept their injuries and learn how to live a new normal life. The second part of the trip is to become the advocates for the wounded warrior program and to take what they learn at the ranch and help fellow Afghan soldiers with their injuries and move the program forward.”
The war in Afghanistan continues for Afghan soldiers, and as a result, they will continue to have wounded soldiers who need treatment, said DeBusk.
“As of now, they do not have a wounded program like we have in the United States. With that being said, in essence, we need to help them develop a similar program so they can take care of their wounded warriors like we take care of ours,” said Dave Roever, founder and president of Operation Reconnect, a nonprofit organization whose single focus is to reconnect warriors and their families to a whole and productive life.
Roever uses his life-changing experiences in Vietnam to help others cope with their own injuries.
“When you show compassion and help other people, other people will help you; when you give of yourself, other people will give themselves to you; when you care, they care,” said Roever.
The Afghan commandos, all of whom have lost limbs in combat, shared their stories in public for the first time during the training program. They plan to one day share their stories to give hope to other wounded Afghan veterans and gain support for programs to help fellow Afghan soldiers and their families.
Roever announced his plans to assist and his commitment to the Afghan National Army by partnering with the U.S. military.
Upon completion of the weeklong course, the Afghan soldiers will head back home to work on changing perceptions and gaining support in their country for their wounded veterans. Once back, they will become the advocates for themselves and others, learning how to start and sustain wounded warrior support programs.