By Debbie Gregory.
Americans love their wounded warriors. There are scores of foundations, organizations, government initiatives and private crusades to honor U.S. service members who were wounded or otherwise disabled as a result of their military service.
Wounded U.S. service members are deservedly treated as heroes. They put themselves in harm’s way and paid the price for our freedom.
Television shows, movies and ads glorify the sacrifice of the American wounded warrior. There are even instances where wounded warriors still serve. Among them are Army Ranger, Sergeant First Class Joseph Kapacziewski, who completed five of his ten combat deployments with a prosthetic right leg, after a grenade wounded him in Iraq in 2005.
Unfortunately, in other countries, those who are wounded in service to their country are not as recognized, honored or appreciated. Even those who fought alongside our own wounded warriors against common enemies are often forgotten and left to fend for themselves after they are wounded.
Afghanistan is one such country where wounded warriors are often forgotten. Many of our allies, who were wounded while fighting on our side against the Taliban, are forced to leave their service, some with and some without pensions.
But a senior enlisted leader from Afghanistan’s special operations forces is trying to change that for his comrades, modeling a program in his country after those found in America.
Command Sergeant Major Faiz Mohammad Wafa, Afghanistan’s top enlisted commando leader, brought a small band of his brothers to South Texas on a mission to learn the basics of starting a wounded warrior program in their country. Wafa has twenty years of combat experience, and is more than qualified to lead his men into battle. But the best leaders know when to seek additional resources, and that is what Wafa is doing. With the cooperation of U.S. Special Operations Command and NATO Special Operations Component Command Afghanistan, Wafa brought four Afghan commandos, each of them missing a leg, to Texas for a weeklong visit in March, 2015.
The Afghans were coached on how to open up, both privately and publicly, about their injuries, and how to fundraise for their cause. The men also received training on how to counsel and care for other wounded warriors.
Back in the States, we may tend to lose sight that there are even more Afghans fighting, dying and sacrificing for their country’s freedom than there are U.S. service members. And the men who serve in Afghanistan’s military are patriots, just like the men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces. They may come from different places, serve under a different flag and wear a different uniform, but in the end, they all have the hearts of warriors.
When wounded, they deserve the same honor and recognition from their countrymen that we proudly bestow onto American wounded warriors.
At MilitaryConnection.com, we commend Wafa and his efforts, and hope that his campaign to highlight the need to support wounded warriors in his country is successful.
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Military Connection: Afghanistan’s Wounded Warrior Campaign: By Debbie Gregory