Operation Route 66 – serving those who served us.

Alex Velez's situation is more complicated. He wears dark Oakley sunglasses indoors and out to prevent extreme headaches – a feature I've learned to associate with traumatic brain injury, the hallmark wound of our most recent wars. In addition, after being dislocated, his leg never healed properly. He drags the half-dead limb around waiting for our over-burdened VA to get around to an 'optional' amputation. A prosthetic will give him much greater mobility.

A year and a half ago my son and I started down a path that changed our lives. As a country we had just learned there was going to be an end to Combat Operations in Iraq, but there was a lesser-reported story emerging: veterans were starting to die by their own hands at home, at a higher rate than on the battlefield. We decided then that we were going to meet the men and women who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, document our experience and talk about how we – Americans – can serve those who served us.

When we first began, we realized there was a disconnect. We didn’t know a single veteran and initially we had trouble connecting with them. After exhaustive research; tapping out friends, families and social networks we began to find them. At the beginning we would go on 26-32 hour road …

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