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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Now the West Point grad leads a different fight: Iraq veterans' health care

After his commission from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2000 and basic training, Marc Giammatteo was deployed to Iraq in April 2003. In nine months in Iraq, Marc led 100 combat missions before he was severely injured by a rocket-propelled grenade during a January 2004 ambush. The grenade penetrated his vehicle, tore off the outside half of his right leg from knee to ankle and caused multiple shrapnel wounds to his body.

Over two years he had more than 20 surgeries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. Surgeons saved his permanently damaged leg. While recovering from his wounds he became an unofficial patient advocate, testified to the Committee of Veterans' Affairs and consulted with the secretary of the Veterans Administration, the secretary and deputy secretary of Defense, and two chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on behalf of wounded service members from operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Earlier this year, President Bush named him to his Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors. Under his leadership, the Commission recommends creating comprehensive recovery plans, restructuring the disability and compensation system, aggressively preventing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury, strengthening support for families, rapidly taking patient information from the Department of Defense to the Veterans Administration and recruiting and retaining first-rate professionals for the Veterans Administration.

Advice to injured veterans: Become strong advocates for yourself and your fellow veterans, like Marc.

Read another Iraq story, or read more from the source article by Scott Whipple in New Britain [CT] Herald.

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