By Military analyst
msnbc.com
updated 3/24/2008 4:22:16 PM ET 2008-03-24T20:22:16
COMMENTARY

Last week in a teeming San Antonio downpour, there was a brief ceremony that accompanied the opening of the first two buildings of a project called Operation Home Front Village. Although there was some local media coverage, attendance at the event was sparse, mostly workers from Operation Home Front and the organization’s clients. Maybe it was the rain that kept the crowd small, but more likely it was that charities like this operate largely under the radar of the majority of Americans.

San Antonio is the home of Fort Sam Houston and Brook Army Medical Center, a place where many wounded soldiers are saved, treated and rehabilitated. Many of the troops who have suffered hideous, debilitating burns are brought here, most of them the results of the improvised explosive devices that plague our forces in Iraq. But there are others, victims of gunshot wounds, shrapnel or both. Quite a few are missing limbs. Soldiers who are ambulatory often walk with the aid of canes, young men and women old and bent before their time.

The Village provides housing for soldiers who are undergoing outpatient treatment, with room for spouses and children so that families can be nearby to assist in the long, arduous and always painful healing and rehab processes. Our troops are not particularly well-paid, and so Operation Home Front Village assists by stocking food and other necessities of modern life, too. The company CDW has donated computers and other equipment, and workers and volunteers are available for counseling or anything else the troops and their families require.

Wounded, but not dejected
I was lucky to attend the opening and to speak with some of the soldiers the organization is serving, and my report echoes those of many others who have spent time with wounded warriors. One can’t help but be motivated by the energy and maturity of these young people. It’s not a fatalism that grips them. It is a real world understanding of the difficult circumstances in which they find themselves, the effort they know will be required of them, and the determination they have to prevail. They don’t intend to merely play with the bad hand they have been dealt. They intend to win with it.

Like the splendid Fisher Houses, Operation Home Front is one of a number of grassroots organizations that, with the help of private citizens and corporate America, insure that our wounded veterans receive the kind of assistance they need and deserve. I spoke with Operation Home Front personnel, and the dedication they have to assisting the troops is palpable and moving, the same strength of love one finds among the troops’ brothers-in-arms and the doctors and nurses caring for these kids.

Many of those involved in the charitable organizations that help veterans are themselves veterans or relatives of veterans. But one would hope, if not expect, that the millions of Americans for whom these valiant troops are sacrificing would share the passion of charity; these wounded are the children of all of us.

Jack Jacobs is a military analyst and a retired U.S. Army colonel. He earned the Medal of Honor for exceptional heroism on the battlefields of Vietnam and also has three Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars.

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