Operation Proper Exit: Returning to Iraq to Heal


Retired Army Sgt. Alexander Reyes (right), from Miami, responds to applause at Camp Liberty in Baghdad after sharing the story of how he was wounded by an IED in 2007. He is one of seven wounded veterans who recently returned to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit, a program aimed at helping soldiers heal from traumatic injuries. Deborah Amos/NPR

The Troops First Foundation focuses on listening to veteran warriors’ needs to develop relevant programs for healing that don’t duplicate current efforts. National Public Radio’s Deborah Amos reports on one of foundation’s effort called – Operation Proper Exit where wounded warriors return to the site of their injury in Iraq.

A portion of the NPR story: The idea for the program came from wounded veterans themselves. Rick Kell, who volunteers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and runs a foundation called Troops First, helped make it happen. He won approval from the military command and the Army’s surgeon general.

“I’ve seen 49 men change in front of my eyes, the week that they were here,” says Kell. “I’ve received letters from wives thanking me for bringing their husbands back from Iraq after they had already been home for two years.”

Other initiatives by Troops First include Operation Coaches and Warriors and Operation V.I.P. – Visit Important People.


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