. Military-Civilian: Hot Jobs, Events, and Helpful Information for Veterans Seeking Civilian Careers: Wounded U.S. Army Captain Goes To War Zone In Afghanistan

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wounded U.S. Army Captain Goes To War Zone In Afghanistan

Why would an already wounded soldier return to the War Zone? Captain James Van Thach, retired from the United States Army in March 2009, decided it was time to return to a war zone on Operation Proper Exit, a program sponsored by the Troops First Foundation.

Captain Thach a Vietnamese American law graduate of Touro Law Center volunteered to serve in the Infantry and was wounded twice in Iraq, once by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED); second time by a Katyusha rocket and was awarded the Purple Heart for his wounds.

Since medically retiring from the United States Army, he has undergone physical and mental medical treatments for the numerous injuries that he sustained: Traumatic Brain Injury, migraine headaches, photophobia, diplopia, blurred vision, sciatic nerve damage to left leg, injury to his neck, back and spine and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“When I returned from the Iraq War to the United States and received treatment, my health has gone up and down several times which has lead me to be admitted into the hospital several times,” said Captain Thach.

“After three long years my health finally stabilized. After watching a CBS 60 Minutes story about Troops First Foundation that was providing a trip called Operation Proper Exit for wounded Veterans returning to Iraq, I felt that this was for me to receive final closure,” said Captain Thach.

In December 2011, the United States military’s combat role in Iraq ended and Captain Thach was not able to return there. His doctor agreed that it would benefit him to go on Operation Proper Exit and help to heal his mental scars, anxiety attacks, depression, hyper vigilance and nightmares which still linger on after more than 3 years. As long as he took his daily dosage of 20 pills and was injected with his bi-weekly injection before he left, going to the war zone in Afghanistan would be tremendously advantageous for him.

“Once my doctor gave me clearance, I contacted Rick Kell, the co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Troops First Foundation that sponsors Operation Proper Exit. I provided him documentation of my military service in the war zone and medical records of my injuries. Rick thanked me for my military service in Iraq and said he would notify me when the next planned trip to Afghanistan would be in 2013. Rick Kell contacted me two weeks later to notify me that I would be scheduled to leave in 2 weeks.” said Captain Thach.

Troops First Foundation’s program Operation Proper Exit‘s itinerary stages a meet-and-greet tour to numerous forward operating bases throughout Afghanistan with a group of wounded warriors. They speak to hundreds of military men and women about their combat experiences and healing from their traumatic combat injuries.
The wounded warriors are also briefed by General Officers and Command Sergeants Major at various commands throughout Afghanistan about the progress and challenges that the U.S., NATO and Afghanistan Security Forces face in their current situation on the ground and in the near future.

Additionally Captain Thach said, “Operation Proper Exit has helped me tremendously going into the war zone in Afghanistan with 8 other Veterans that have been wounded. We formed a brotherhood and interacted with troops throughout Afghanistan, shared our stories of our wounds and how we persevered and moved on with our lives despite our injuries.”

In conclusion, Captain Thach stated, “Our injuries don’t define us. We control our own destinies and set the example on how to live our lives positively and be inspirational to our fellow Americans as well as an asset to our country.”

Captain Thach, your bravery to return to a dangerous war zone in Afghanistan despite your debilitating injuries speaks volumes about your character. You are a shining light of what makes our country great, we are forever in your debt for your sacrifice.

No comments: