Gala Honoros Wounded Warrior
It is a staggering figure. The number of U.S. servicemen and servicewomen wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: more than 47,000. And that number keeps growing.
In Washington D.C. Wednesday night, a few of those wounded warriors were honored by an organization called Hope For The Warriors.
U.S. Army Captain Larkin O’Hern, a triple amputee who walks around with just a cane, is one of the honorees.
“I have a beautiful wife and that helps,” Capt. O’Hern tells us. “We both believe that there is a God out there that looks out for us. Got us this far. That’s going to keep taking us.”
Hope For The Warriors is recognizing not just Capt. O’Hern’s sacrifice – he was blown up by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan 17 months ago – but also the way he inspires his fellow soldiers.
“Pretty much from the beginning, I’ve known I wanted to stay in the Army,” O’Hern explains. “And I’m working that packet right now. And that gives me that same kind of mission. And I’ve also wanted to be as independent as I can so that my wife can continue doing her thing.”
What O’Hern says he doesn’t want is pity.
“While I’m grateful and thankful for all the help I’ve received, at the same time, we’re not victims,” he says. “We went into this eyes open and knew this could be an outcome.”
The Got Heart, Give Hope Gala organizers are also honoring a pooch named Rufus. He’s a stray dog whose barking broke up a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan two years ago.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that myself and several others guys definitely wouldn’t be here today,” says former National Guard Sgt. Chris Duke, who was hurt in that attack.
So, too, was Rufus.
“You can see here where he took some pretty serious shrapnel wounds,” Duke says as he points to Rufus’ back.
But life has been pretty good since then. Six months after Duke returned home to Georgia, he adopted Rufus. They had to cut through a great deal of red tape and with help from the non-profit Hope For The Warriors, Rufus was flown out of Afghanistan.
Now Rufus, too, is being recognized for what he did in the war.