a day of remembrance

War commands sacrifice — often the greatest sacrifice — one’s life. While we remember those who have given their lives in service of our country on this Memorial Day, there are others still who are fighting for their life not on the battlefield, but in their mind.

Last night, 60 Minutes aired “Honoring Our Soldiers.” If you have a few minutes, it’s certainly worth a watch.

Part of the segment highlighted a program called Operation Proper Exit, which is a therapy program that provides a way for soldiers to return to Iraq or Afghanistan to revisit old wounds, to face demons, to heal.

“They were taken from Iraq,” said Rick Kel, who coordinates Operation Proper Exit. “When they arrived home last time, there were no homecomings. Many woke up after comas of three weeks or more, significantly different in many ways.  A lot of it was blur, and they have to put those pieces back together. And they do. Many do. But the one piece they couldn’t put back was exiting, was leaving. The way they thought they would leave with their team, their battle buddies.”

Steven Cornford left Iraq and was awarded the Silver Star of Valor, but at a great cost. Cornford has post-traumatic stress disorder and is fighting for his life, once again.

“A lot of people don’t understand,” Cornford said. “I always hear people complain about stuff, and it makes me mad because a lot of people don’t understand. They just go about their daily lives while there’s people dying everyday for them, and it upsets me a lot.”

The piece follows a group of eight men on their week-long journey re-visiting the hospital, battle sites, each stop bearing a specific purpose.

“Each man came for a different reason — to remember piece of mind, to see again, to walk out of Iraq,” Scott Pelley said, CBS News Correspondent. “Before their return, the enemy had the last word. But now after a week they have rewritten that history. This was their proper exit. They were guided by the eyes of others or walked on artificial legs, those things would not change. But as they left on their own terms now, the enemy was retreating from the battlefield of their minds.”

For more info on Operation Proper Exit, click here.


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