In a move designed to bring closure to themselves and support to their fellow soldiers, six amputee combat veterans have returned to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit, a pilot program that allows injured troops to visit the field camps or bases at which they were stationed at the time of their injury. The program, led by the United Service Organization (USO) Troops First Foundation, will take the troops and their companions to seven locations during their weeklong visit.
On June 23, Sgt. Kathleen Briere reported for the Multi-National Corps Iraq Public Affairs office that the soldiers had appeared in the rotunda of the Al Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Baghdad, where they introduced themselves to a crowd of hundreds of fellow soldiers.
Retired Staff Sgt. Bradley K. Gruetzner of Palestine, Texas, and Sgt. Marco A. Robledo from Clarksville, Arkansas, were among the six. Both returned wearing i-LIMB hands by Touch Bionics, Livingston, Scotland.
According to Briere, Brig. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, deputy commanding general of the Multi-National Corp-Iraq, met each returning service member and expressed that she approved of their return. Staff Sgt. Alejandro Perez, the command sergeant major administrative non-commissioned officer of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, told Briere, “This was their idea. They wanted to come back.”